Brecksville All Seasons Course

We have a permanent course at Brecksville Reservation. Here’s more about it, including maps, instructions, and a bit about orienteering. If you enjoyed the course, let us know. If you had problems because of something that we could correct, let us know that too!

The orienteering course you are about to follow is mostly on interconnecting trails that will bring you back to the general area of the Nature Center and its parking lot. There are, however, some short forays off of the trail included to make the course a bit more interesting, so you should be prepared for that. The course is approx. (6.1 km or 3.7 miles) in its entirety. This is rather long as well as hilly for a beginner level course of its type, so feel free to attempt just a portion of it if your time or fitness level will not allow you to complete it all today.

Brecksville All-Seasons 2010

The object of orienteering is to navigate efficiently to a series of land features that are represented on a detailed topographic map. The land features that you will seek are described for you on a clue sheet, which you see illustrated below. The clue sheet contains both symbols and a narrative description of the feature, but typically it only provides symbols. A land feature can be any reasonably permanent, clear and distinct object identifiable on the land or that identifies the type of landscape –a bridge, boulder, gully, stream, field, building, etc.

To confirm that you have found the correct feature you will find an orienteering control marker at that feature. For this course, the control marker is a 4×4 inch square plate that contains an opposing orange and white triangle on it. In its lower left corner it also contains a two letter code that coordinates to an identical code on your clue sheet. This confirms that you are at the land feature that you sought. Some are on posts. Others are above head height on trees.

It is helpful to orienteer with a compass, but for beginner level courses (truly all courses) the map typically contains more than enough information that allows you to navigate successfully from point to point. Keeping in touch with your map –meaning, frequently examining the area of the map as you move along and seeing those features on the landscape around you– will typically keep you found. And that’s always a good thing.

Download the course map and instruction below. This map is for recreational use only and is intended for use with adult supervision. The park contains dangers both obvious an hidden. It is a good idea to check in at the Nature Center before and after your hike, or let someone you know what you are planning. Most of the markers are on trail, but some are a short distance away from the path. Watch for poison ivy.

Maps & Instructions


  • The Brecksville Nature center is south of Rt. 82 and east of Rt. 21, less than a mile from the center of Brecksville.
  • Google Earth coordinates: 41.319,-81.616 /
  • The Nature Center is only five hundred feet south of the parking lot.

Mapping Resources for Orienteering

There are lots of great tools for orienteering, and mappers interested in creating their own maps. We have put together a small sample of the tool we use in the club for creating maps, setting up events, and so on. Our favorites are probably OCAD (the industry standard) and Purple Pen (for route setting), and many of the club members track their runs using GPS, and then some sort of analysis tool. Visit our Mapping Resources page for more.

Top 5 Tips to Get Better at Orienteering

Here are five basic skills that you need to practice to help you get better at orienteering.

1. Fold your map – Always make sure that you fold your map so that you can easily see the part of the map where you are.

2. Orient your map – Always make sure that your map is the correct way round or oriented. This means that the features which are in front of you on the ground are in front of you on the map. You can also orient your map using a compass by making sure that the north lines on the map point the same way as the north or red end of the compass needle. Each time you change direction you should change your grip on the map so that the map is still oriented to north.

3. Thumb your Map – To help you know where you are on the map it helps if you mark your position on the map with your thumb. As you move along the ground you should move your thumb to your new position on the map. It is common to move your thumb to the new position at a ‘check point’ such as a path junction or some other obvious feature where you will stop or slow down and check where you are.

4. Check your control card – Once you have found a control you always need to check that the code on your control description sheet matches the code on the control. You should also check that the control is situated on the correct feature on your map. You will then know for sure that you have reached the correct control.

5. Have fun and enjoy yourself – This is the most important skill to remember. Orienteering should always be fun and enjoyable!

Orienteering’s Key to Winning: Not Getting Lost (via NYTimes)

via NYTimes:

UPPSALA, Sweden — About 100 yards inside one entrance of the Lunsen forest is a rock ledge formed millenniums ago when all of Scandinavia was covered by ice. A thicket of bushes lines the near edge of a gully that drops down 15 feet. On the far edge, a group of trees rises, like fingers splayed wide, providing the false impression that they are not so far away when in fact, a steep fall awaits anyone who steps off the precipice. To the side of the ledge is a medium-size stone.

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