Register | Login
Attackpoint - performance and training tools for orienteering athletes

Discussion: Best Orienteering Scene in the US?

in: Orienteering; General

Aug 30, 2020 7:22 PM # 
My wife and I are considering moving out of AZ and believe it or not, being close to a thriving orienteering scene is one consideration that we would like to budget into our decision.

I need the tribe's opinion here - where in the US we can find the largest concentration of O-clubs and mapped areas. In other words, where can I be orienteering almost every weekend within reasonable driving time? I'm not talking about being close to a specific club, however a few clubs in close proximity will do the trick. I think that you get the point.

Needless to say, yes, COVID-19 has changed things, but one day this will be over and we will go back to our regular O-life. Fingers crossed!
Aug 30, 2020 7:27 PM # 
Southern New England - CT River Valley in CT or MA - you're within 90 minute drive of most meets/events for six clubs - HVO/WCOC/EMPO/NEOC/CSU/UNO.
Aug 30, 2020 8:48 PM # 
I concur, NE is the best place for the most mapped areas and active clubs in the smallest area.

Move to Scranton and help Greg A. get things really going there. He's already mapped (not event-level) a bunch of areas. And it's inexpensive, if that's a consideration, since much of NE is pricey. Easy enough to get to Hudson Valley and the Philly area (the former with fabulous terrain, the latter with a big club and extensive schedule).

Or move to Flagstaff! We just drove through there and the terrain is gorgeous ... But orienteering-wise you'd be pretty lonely.
Aug 30, 2020 9:43 PM # 
O Joy:
Indiana Crossroads Orienteering (Indianapolis), Orienteering Cincinnati (Cincinnati, OH area), Orienteering Louisville (Louisville, KY area), and Miami Valley Orienteering (Dayton, OH area) are within 2 hour drive of each other (except OLOU and MVOC) and many of us are able to orienteer every weekend from October to April. Collectively we have lots of maps and lots of areas still to be mapped. We've even had summer socially distanced in-person and virtual meets this summer.
Aug 30, 2020 9:56 PM # 
For clubs and terrain I'd suggest positioning yourself between DVOA and Quantico with the occasional trip to HVO and Central VA.
But why just one home? Between a typical November and April you can find some sixteen orienteering events an easy drive from the central area of Florida.
And if you designate Florida as your primary residence you can say goodbye to state income tax (but say hello to an increasing network of toll roads).
Aug 31, 2020 3:05 AM # 
I can't argue that southern New England isn't great for a wealth of events and a variety of terrain. Likewise, the DVOA / Quantico area is pretty active.

But, besides having several active clubs and lots of nearby events, the Cincinnati and surrounding area has some great advantages if you're concerned about cost of living and reasonable property values. A disadvantage is that much of the terrain is relatively similar ridge and valley (although the more southerly parts of the area especially Kentucky and southern Indiana have some areas of limestone karst, caves, etc.) Another disadvantage is the heat and humidity in summer - you can't just escape to higher altitude within a couple hours drive.
Aug 31, 2020 4:07 AM # 
Oklahoma is positioned strategically the best. Everything is within a short (6-7 hrs) drive: Colorado, Wyoming, Ozark Plateau, Rio Grande.


People Can’t Flee These US Cities Fast Enough And We Know Why

Washington D.C. is the worst-run American city
Aug 31, 2020 4:20 AM # 
Northern California is hard to beat for the frequency of events. We have 5 organizations that regularly produce events. I quickly counted last year’s total and came up with 52 days of Orienteering of all kinds.

BAOC: 24 days including 4 National Meet Days
Terraloco: 12 Days of Street-O, Sprints and Wilderness events
Nav-X: 7 days of Map Trekking Events (Score-Os)
Gold Country Orienteers: 4 days of Orienteering in the Sacramento Area
Truckee Orienteering: 4 days of Ski-O

Advantage: Mild weather allows a year round schedule.
Disadvantage: Cost of living.
Aug 31, 2020 4:45 AM # 
Also a lot of smoke in CA.

Check out Cle Elum, wa. UsynligO has like 11 events in last 30 days
Aug 31, 2020 4:31 PM # 
Thanks for the shout-out, Peggy.

I have to say without the slightest hint of humility that I think Scranton and Northeast PA in general are at the moment the place to be for elite level training in the US.

But in terms of events we are severely lacking. Although this might begin changing in the months to come.
Aug 31, 2020 6:51 PM # 
I’ve used this site when travelling in the USA to find orienteering clubs/events/permanent courses. It’s a map—a good visual.
Aug 31, 2020 9:23 PM # 
And this page on Attackpoint will narrow down events in a specific area; sometimes clubs don't always post them there, so it's good to use both resources.
Aug 31, 2020 10:15 PM # 
A lot depends on whether you want to be able to orienteer nearly every weekend fairly near where you live between March and November or year round - living between QOC and DVOA (and near SVO) looks much better compared to being in the center of New England in the latter case. To what degree you think terrain with lots of rock detail is the greatest and you could never get tired of a steady diet of it could also be a factor - QOC, DVOA, and SVO together offer a lot of variety in terrain.

ETA: of course, if you're into ski-O or interested in getting into it...
Sep 1, 2020 2:05 AM # 
I would also check USGS for lidar and make KP maps if I lived in the US. You need to do a little searching for the good areas but there is lidar almost everywhere. ANd u need to check land permissions, but I'd look at places with lots of forest with good contours nearby. And with clubs.

But near New York it looks pretty good at least terrain wise. You're close to stuff on the coast and come to Canada too for events.
Sep 1, 2020 6:43 AM # 
Great tip to look at the clubs map - conclusions so far:

I see one big cluster in southern New England (lets refer to Springfield, MA as the center of gravity) with UNO/NEOC/CSU/CRNA/EMPO/WCOC/USMAOC/HVO/LIOC all within a reasonable driving distance.

Another neat cluster around Cincinnati with OCIN/MVOC/COO/OBLUE/OLOU/ICO all nearby.

Looks like the DC area and the Bay Area have mini-clusters as well.

When it gets to events, and that is the real test - plenty around DC and another nice cluster just west of Philadelphia. I wonder if that is the case during regular times as well, looking beyond COVID.

All in all - east coast rules! no doubt.

One thing that I could not figure is how many of these are pro events (include green/red/blue courses) and which are the biggest clubs in the US in terms of members. A great orienteering community is always a treat!
Sep 1, 2020 8:23 AM # 
I am assuming this is a theoretical exercise because if I were looking for a place to live the relative strength of the nearby orienteering clubs would be so far down the list of important factors it wouldn't really register. I'll write why later.
So you have narrowed it down to several choices - New England, Cincinnati, mid-Atlantic, Bay Area "Good choices, sir" as the restaurant server always says.
Which ones talk the talk and also walk the walk? Yes, some club are just there on paper. Some don't put on any or many events. Checking the AP schedule is one way to find out but to the best of my knowledge it is not searchable by area. I also know from personal experience that some club officials just don't get around to posting the schedule to AP even though it is an easy thing to do. My fault!
There are at least three ways tat O-USA might also post their activities - websites, Facebook pages and even MeetUp groups. Check them out and you can usually see how active they are. Now that I think of it perhaps the O-USA listing of clubs could also list the social media sources where they can be found. For instance Suncoast Orienteering - Facebook.
Why would I not care too much about the strength of the local orienteering schedule? 1) Weather 2) Cost of living 3) Friends nearby 4) other activities, sports and culture etc
But the biggest reason to not worry about the existing orienteering activity is that one can always create your own. Finding parks, learning how to and then creating maps, recruiting participants, creating innovative ways to stage and market events in the COVID world or otherwise. There is a lot of fun in that.
Check out WNC Orienteering and Northline Navigation for some very interesting examples of how one can start from scratch. Northline is even prepared to put on an event or events in YOUR backyard, literally.
Sep 1, 2020 10:57 AM # 
Something you can try is changing your location in Attackpoint to one of the candidate spots, and then looking at the schedule. There's some heuristic based on the size of the event and its proximity to you that determines the size of the font. That helps you see what the nearby events are. Of course, this would work better in times when the schedules were normal.
Sep 1, 2020 11:59 AM # 
If you want frequency, move to Melbourne (yeah it's not the US) where last year you had a choice of something like 400 events (lots of midweek street events) across 270 odd days and not hugely far to go to SA or NSW for their events either. Not much happening there at the moment though :-(
Sep 1, 2020 12:30 PM # 
Listen to Gswede. He has given this a lot of thought and effort!
Sep 1, 2020 1:59 PM # 
AP events are searchable by area if you use the EventMap feature - of course with coronavirus there aren't a lot of local events listed these days.

I'm also pretty sure that AP has an algorithm that periodically crawls local club websites (in the US at least) and automatically add events it finds to the AP calendar.
Sep 1, 2020 4:07 PM # 
DVOA, QOC, NEOC, BAOC (and probably OCIN) are all large clubs by membership. You can check out their results pages to determine how many people attend their events.

We used to live in eastern NY (east of the Hudson River) and had access within 2-2.5 hours drive to many events by the local clubs. WCOC is a mature club (not many youngsters) that puts on meets with advanced courses; EMPO is a small club with a few dedicated volunteers that needs help growing, if you have expertise there. Now we live in eastern PA and have access to the long list of DVOA and QOC events, and still are within driving distance of New England events.
Sep 1, 2020 7:14 PM # 
And then there is the criteria of where are the great O terrain and maps. I have been on some fine maps throughout the northeast, west, Rocky Mts, and the midwest (OCIN), but I think many will agree that many of the truly great terrain, which has been used for World Cup and World Champ events, is in the northeast. Especially the terrain in and around Harriman SP (HVO, West Point clubs) and northern MA, southern NH (NEOC, UNO, CSU).
IMHO of course.....
Sep 1, 2020 11:52 PM # 
And the plateau at Moreau in the upper Hudson Valley (hour north of Albany, NY).
Sep 2, 2020 12:37 AM # 
The Trysons retired to eastern PA. That speaks volumes.
Sep 2, 2020 12:38 AM # 
A lot of it comes down to what type of orienteering you are looking for. If you are a young elite looking for serious training for world class competitions, then definitely think NE PA, New England (at least April-Oct, maybe snowbird to GA, AZ, California, or FL if you don't do ski-O).

On the other hand, my first assumption was that you were thinking more recreational, merely looking for O' activity nearby every weekend. In which case any place with a full schedule will do. For example, OCIN land has white thru red courses almost every weekend from late Sept thru March, and a summer series every two weeks, while Louisville (less than 90 minutes away) has a weekly summer "sprint" series. But we rarely have blue courses, and almost never a 15,000 scale.
Sep 2, 2020 2:15 AM # 
+1 mikeminium

One has to be crazy to go out on Moreau-type terrain without being 100% physically fit, healthy and mentally prepared. Healthcare is generally unaffordable in this country (knee, hip replacement, etc)

In Central Florida it is still humid mid-80s in December. IMO the best place for winter guaranteed-snow-free orienteering is Oak Mountain near Birmingham, a large area of superb terrain, which is also very beginner-friendly.
Sep 2, 2020 3:13 AM # 
Moreau is awesome.
Oak Mountain is also excellent.
Sep 2, 2020 4:22 PM # 
Moreau is world-class terrain. There are reasonable trails to get on and off the plateau, especially now that the state released old medium-security prison land to the park.
Sep 2, 2020 10:48 PM # 
You want to see really REALLY nice terrain in the USA I hope you will soon get a chance to orienteer at Wellseley Island State Park in New York's part of the Thousand Islands in the St Lawrence River. But its not a place to settle.
Sep 3, 2020 3:02 PM # 
@JanetT: is that the extreme southern tip? If so, does that add the potential of more of the quality terrain up top?
Sep 3, 2020 3:42 PM # 
SW tip. New access to the plateau terrain is from Wilton Rd/Corinth Mtn Rd via the Lake Bonita trail, taking you to terrain used during the October 2010 Classic Champs meet and 2012(?) Billygoat. That parking area looks to have room for a dozen or more cars, from satellite view. I know the old map included some terrain down to Lake Ann (the smaller lake) and partway to the power line.

Yes, there's potential for more good terrain. I haven't been there, but if we get the chance to visit upstate NY again would love to do the hike and see what that terrain is like.

While EMPO probably has the Lidar from 2010, the Moreau map doesn't include that part because it wasn't public then. EMPO doesn't have the resources to expand Moreau, since they just paid for a new map that was going to be used for an NRE next month that was canceled.

It's likely a km or two hike from the Lake Bonita parking lot to the existing mapped terrain.

On the map snippet below, #5 is the Lake Bonita parking area; #3 is where the bus dropped you on Spier Falls Rd for the 2013 Middle Champs (from there necessitating a mile hike to start, climbing 100m or so). The pointer due N of #5 on the Hudson River is where advanced course participants were dropped off and hiked in for 2010 day 1.

Sep 3, 2020 5:58 PM # 
There are two #3 markers...
Sep 3, 2020 9:26 PM # 
...the northern one, then.
Sep 4, 2020 4:26 AM # 
It would appear that this additional land could significantly reduce the climb to the "good stuff", by using a bus drop off at the Lake Bonita lot.

It looks like #2 on the above map is the campground by the lakes where the event center was located in both 2010 and 2013. What is the distance to there from Bonita across the plateau?
Sep 4, 2020 5:09 AM # 
GuyO, note that there is a bar scale for 3000 ft (not quite 1 km) in the lower right, so you can get a rough gauge on distances from that. Just eyeballing it, I didn't put a ruler up to my screen or account for twisting trails, it looks like approx 6-7 km from #2 to #5. I could easily be off by a couple of km but that gives you a ballpark.
Sep 7, 2020 11:26 PM # 
How far are you willing to drive and how do you feel about snow?

We live in the Finger Lakes of NY, southeast of Rochester and ROC, CNYO and BFLO are within 1-2 hours. If you’re willing to drive a bit further you can get to EMPO in Albany and to the Hamilton & Toronto, Ontario areas.

It’s a fantastic place to live and pretty affordable.

This discussion thread is closed.