Orienteering – A Reason to Wander in the Woods

“Not all who wander are lost.” – J.R.R Tolkien

As hikers, kayakers, and general outdoor enthusiasts, Rob and I are always interested in adding to our repertoire of activities that give us the opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy nature. We’ve talked about geocaching in this blog before. It is an activity where participants use a GPS device to navigate to a hidden object, typically a container that has a log book and oftentimes “swag” (trinkets or other small items to trade). There is however another, somewhat similar, sport that requires navigational skills, but this one takes the technology out of the loop.  In orienteering, participants navigate from point to point, using only a detailed map and a compass, to find “control points” marked by a “flag” (a square orange and white marker) or other feature. Orienteering can be as relaxing as a walk in the woods, or in competitive orienteering, you do your navigating while racing the clock and other competitors.

The Monadnock Region is lucky to have a permanent course located at Tucker Brook Town Forest in Milford.  Tucker Brook Town Forest is a 285-acre conservation area with a number of multi-use recreation trails over wooded, mostly rolling terrain.  Features of the area include a number of glacial erratic boulders and the 12-foot tall Tucker Brook Falls. The permanent orienteering course has 13 control points (7 beginner/advanced beginner, 6 intermediate/advanced). When all 13 points have been found, a secret message is revealed. (The map and instructions for the course can be found on the Milford Conservation Commission webpages.)  Although it is not in the Monadnock Region, there’s an additional permanent (seasonal) course in southern NH at Beaver Brook in Hollis, about 45-50 drive from Peterborough.  For more information about that course, visit the Beaver Brook Association website.

Tucker Brook Falls

And it turns out that orienteering is not limited to warm weather months! On March 3rd, Up North Orienteers will be hosting a Ski-Orienteering competition at Windblown Cross Country Ski Center in New Ipswich (weather permitting, of course).

For more information on the sport of orienteering and upcoming events, visit the websites for Up North Orienteers and Orienteering USA.

Happy wandering!