Orienteering FAQs

How Do I Get a LHF Orienteering Course Map?
If you have a color printer, download maps in .pdf format right from this site! If you don’t have a color printer, you can visit the Gray Public Library to download a map and print a copy for 25 cents a page.

When is the Orienteering Course Open?
All the time, starting March 1, 2008! Orienteering is fun in all seasons (except, maybe, mud season). Control features are visible even in snowy winters, but you may need to look a little more closely. In winter, it’s ok to snowshoe on the groomed ski trails; please be courteous and don’t disturb the double track laid on one side of the groomed trail. In the summer, be aware of undergrowth screening features such as smaller boulders. Control markers are almost always posted ~6’ off the ground, so they should be visible at all times. The only exceptions are control locations at Tree ID Signs; these markers are posted on the back of the actual signpost, and signs may be obscured by tall ferns during spring/summer.

What Does it Cost?
There are no fees for Libby Hill Trails. That being said, you can ‘pay forward’ to sponsor more activities and upkeep of Libby Hill by visiting our Volunteer Opportunities and/or Support LHFT pages.

How Many Control Markers are Out There?
There are 15 control markers/locations in the area covered by all the beginner courses combined. Each course only uses 6 or 8 of these markers, so you’ll probably come across markers that are not a part of your particular course and won’t be identified on your map.

Will I Have to Go Off Trail?
No, not for these beginner courses; but you can if you like. For these beginner courses, all control markers are placed either on the trail or slightly off-trail, but still visible from the trail. Control markers (see Intro to Orienteering Maps) are attached either to a tree very close to the feature, or to the back of Tree ID Signs. All controls can be found by staying on the wide, well-marked trails. IF YOU ARE CONFIDENT IN YOUR MAP & COMPASS SKILLS, feel free to go off-trail to take a shortcut.

How Long Will I Be Out There?
The obvious answer is “it depends on how fast you go,” but for a general idea… at a moderate walking pace, staying totally on trails, figure about 90 minutes. If you walk fast, run, or take shortcuts, your time may be significantly faster. Or, if you stop to admire the views, have a snack, figure out what made those animal tracks, or chat with someone you meet on the trail (all wonderful things to do!), it will take longer. If you make a mistake, get turned around, and have to backtrack, it will add time. Orienteering is an enhanced stroll in the woods for some, and a race for others – you get to decide what suits you best!

Do I Have to Do the Whole Course?
No. If you can’t take that much time, omit one or more control locations. The idea is to get out there and enjoy Libby Hill… the orienteering course is just one way to explore!

What Should I Take Along?
At a minimum, take:

  • Your chosen map,
  • Pen or pencil to record the control marker codes for each location,
  • Compass if you know how to use it,
  • Water,
  • Cell phone if you have one, and
  • A small first aid kit (suitable for hiking).
  • Optional items include a gallon-size plastic bag for your map (the ink will run if you drop it on wet ground or it’s a bit rainy). You may also want bug repellent, a small snack, or a camera.

What Should I Wear?
At a minimum, take good footwear and outerwear for weather in the woods in Maine. This means layers, even in summer – weather can change quickly. At the top of the hill it can be windy, and it’s cooler in the shade of the woods. Cotton clothing may be comfortable, but it’s not good for keeping you warm OR cool when you’re wet or perspiring – try the new synthetics for shirts and pants, and wool for socks, even in summer. If you think you might want to take a shortcut here and there, remember long pants protect you against thorny, scratchy branches. And New England is tick territory – tuck your pants legs into your socks to help prevent tick bites.

Do I Need Special Boots?
At every season, wet spots in the ground may be difficult to get around, and wet feet are no fun! In winter, waterproof boots (and maybe snowshoes) are best, especially if you go off-trail. In warmer temperatures, wear closed-toed sneakers or hiking boots – no sandals; your feet need protection from branches, rocks, etc.

What is a “White” or “Yellow” Orienteering Course?
Orienteering courses are classified according to length and difficulty. Our first courses at Libby Hill are considered beginner courses with a “white” or “yellow” level of difficulty. On a “white-” or “yellow-” level orienteering courses, controls lie directly along trails with only a few slightly off-trail (but easily visible from the trail). Don’t confuse the white and yellow blaze markings on trees at Libby Hill with orienteering course descriptions. The blaze marks denote a specific named trail shown on the LHF Hiking Maps, NOT the orienteering course; the color similarity is a coincidence.

Where Else Can I Find Orienteering Courses?
Pineland Farms, in New Gloucester (about 20 minutes from Libby Hill) has a much larger, well-established permanent orienteering course (not available during ski season). Check in at the Visitor’s Center to pay the small fee and get a map, clue sheet (control descriptions and sequence), and course card (answer boxes). You’ll copy the course for the month onto a “blank” orienteering map of the property.

Another permanent course is at Tucker Brook in Milford, NH; at this course, you try to find the control locations in any order you wish. If you’re looking for a single-day event, check the website of UpNorthOrienteers – events are frequent in spring, summer, and fall.

Who Made the Maps?
In keeping with Libby Hill’s spirit of volunteerism and commitment to community involvement, both the hiking maps and orienteering maps are made by volunteers. The orienteering maps were begun from trail maps made a few years ago by teens in a local 4-H club.

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