canmore orienteering

Welcome to the Canmore Orienteering webpage, providing information specific to events and clinics in the Bow Valley.

Much of the orienteering in the Bow Valley is organized by the Foothills Wanderers Orienteering Club (FWOC). One of the club's goals is to provide more opportunities for Bow Valley residents who enjoy outdoor activity to discover orienteering, to develop their navigation skills, and to experience the enjoyment of running in Alberta's wonderful forests. The club will hold a number of clinics and introductory races in Canmore in 2012. In conjunction with the Canmore Nordic Center and Trail Sports, FWOC has installed permanent orienteering courses at the Nordic Center so that locals and visitors can practice orienteering - on foot or on mountain bike or on skis!

Orienteering is a sport that can be done by all ages, all fitness levels, and all levels of experience.

Latest News

Dec 18, 2012 Info about New Years Eve ski orienteering posted

Upcoming Events

2013  events
June 7 - 9   Bow Valley The Barebones weekend will feature the usual assortment of races suitable for experts and novices and everything in between. Full details on the event website.

2012  events
Dec 31   Nordic Centre New Years Eve ski orienteering during the day, Canmore's family-friendly Party on the Pond at night. Cap off 2012 with a day of fun orienteering in the fresh mountain air. Everyone welcome - costs are cheap! Full details on the event website.
March 2012   Nordic Centre

Alaric Fish has designed two short courses for the Canmore Track Attack kids. The courses have been left out at the Canmore Nordic Centre and will be available for everyone at least until the end of the weekend. There is no charge to ski the courses (other than the cost of the Nordic Centre trail pass - $10 for adults, $7.50 for seniors & juniors 12-17, $6 for kids 6-11, and free for kids under 6).

You can download and print the maps yourself from this link: (3Mb PDF file)

The first page is the master map showing all control locations. Then there are two courses:

  • Blue Course – 1.3km course, used as an introduction for the kids

  • Red Course – 2.7km course, used as the second loop for the kids

The Blue course is a great intro for the kids, then the Red course is a good challenge for them with some challenging route choices and navigation. Another option is to use the master map and make your own course. There are flags with pin punches at each control site.

If you are interested in doing a longer course, then send an email to adrian -at- If there are a few requests, then I will be happy to make a longer course using a mix of these controls and the permanent controls further out.

(ps: to hold the maps for the kids, what we did was this:

  • put the map in a clear plastic sheet protector (that has holes for a three-ringed binder)
  • Attached a conference lanyard that had a metal clip at the end to the middle hole
  • Taped the end of the sheet protector so the map didn't fall out

The best lanyards have a rotating metal end so that the lanyard doesn't get twisted when the map blows around) 

May 25 - 27   Nordic Centre & Exshaw Barebones 2012. Exact schedule is not yet finalized. But one and perhaps two events will be at the Nordic Centre and one will be on one of the orienteering maps around Exshaw
all summer   Nordic Centre Orienteering on the permanent courses.
Available all summer. Courses for hikers, runners, and mountain bikers.
Visit Trail Sports, across from the day lodge, to get a map
all winter   Nordic Centre Ski orienteering on the permanent courses.
Available all winter.

The schedule above includes all Canmore events currently scheduled for the Canmore Nordic Centre and Central Canmore maps, and other major events planned in the Bow Valley. Information is preliminary. In addition to those events in the schedule above, there will be other informal events advertised though the Orienteering Calgary email list (visit to join) or on the Canmore Orienteering Facebook group. For any questions please send email to adrian _at_ Or try phoning 403.262.4457. All FWOC club events are open to everyone. For insurance purposes membership in the Calgary Orienteering club will be required (it is quite cheap).

Permanent courses at the Canmore Nordic Center

The Canmore Nordic Center has a great selection of orienteering courses permanently available. There are three courses of increasing difficulty - Green, Blue, Black for orienteering on foot, plus a training course, and also a mountain-bike orienteering course. In the winter three ski-orienteering courses are available. The courses provide increasing challenge as your map reading and navigational skills improve. The courses will be changed through the season, according to demand. To try the Permanent Courses go to the Nordic Center and check-in at Trail Sports where you can rent a timing stick and buy a map for just $5. The permanent courses are suitable for individuals or groups/teams. Special events, training, and team building events can be arranged through Trail Sports.

Visit the Trail Sports website for more information and for up-to-the minute results for the current season.

Wednesday evenings in Calgary

Events are held in Calgary every Wednesday evening starting late April. These are informal events in city parks, and they are a great way to develop your navigation skills and get more orienteering experience. To see the full schedule of events hosted by Orienteering Calgary, visit their website at

Weekend events

Larger events are held around Alberta & BC most weekends. All event include courses for all levels from beginner to elite, and everyone is very welcome to attend. Often weekend events include multiple races or some additional training opportunities.


About the Permanent Courses

The Canmore Nordic Center in partnership with Trail Sports and the Foothills Wanderers Orienteering Club have installed a set of permanent orienteering courses.

There are two types of orienteering course at the Nordic Center: ‘point-to-point’ courses in which you visit all the check-points in the specified order, and a ‘score’ course where you visit as many check-points as you want in any order. The point-to-point courses are great for racing, while the score course is good for exploring at your own pace and developing basic navigation and map reading skills.

For runners and hikers there are three point-to-point courses of increasing difficulty (Green, Blue, and Black) in which check-points are visited in the specified sequence. New in 2010 is the Score course – points are earned for each check-point visited, and you choose how many of them to visit and in which order. Of course, competitive types will want to score maximum points by visiting all controls in the least amount of time. The foot orienteering courses require travel on and off the trail network.

For mountain bikers there is a special longer course using trails only.

All courses are changed up mid-season – to give people new challenges and to take participants into different parts of the park. Timing is done using electronic chips, and fastest times are posted to the Trail Sports website.

The permanent courses are available to individuals or groups to use at their convenience. For a small fee anyone can get a map, a “how to” brochure, and a rental SI punch at Trail Sports.  At the end of their course, participants will get a print out of their splits, and their splits will be uploaded to the Trail Sports website. The Permanent Courses are popular with adventure racers, hiking groups, school groups, birthday parties, corporate groups, summer camp groups, scouts, cadets, and all park visitors.

Course descriptions

Black Course

Technically challenging. with lots of off-trail navigation.
Fastest time expected: 45 minutes.
Blue Course

Controls close to trails, short-cuts through the forest possible, some complex navigation.
Fastest time expected: 35 minutes.
Green Course

All on trails, with simple navigation and limited route choices.
Expected time: 30 - 45 minutes.
Score Course

Variety of control sites. Visit as many as you like in any order.
Expected time: as long as you like. Can you visit all controls in 60 minutes?

Results & Fastest times

Results are available at the Trail Sports website (click logo below). These results will be continuously updated as more people try the courses, so keep an eye out for new fastest times!

Trail Sports logo

Ski orienteering on the permanent courses

Green, Blue, and Black courses of increasing challenge from short and mild (Green), to long, hilly, and adventurous (Black) - the ski orienteering courses will take you onto some of the Nordic Centre's less well know and less travelled tracks. Great fun and very challenging, these courses can be skied over and over again - it will be very difficult to pick the optimal route in the Nordic Centre's complex trail network.

For more information about ski orienteering:


Past Events

Sept 2011 Barebones Festival

Thanks everyone for such a fun and memorable weekend of great socializing & racing. Congratulations to all the new Alberta Champs.

(Sept 20th - WinSplits corrected for Middle Distance event)


Andrea Balakova's photos


Did you reach Gold standard? Or Silver? Bronze, perhaps?
Race by race.


Compare splits. How did you did with "errors taken out"?
Middle - Rafter Six
Sprint - Canmore Nordic Centre
Long - Bow Valley Provincial park


View the map, draw your route, compare route choices,
watch animation.
Middle - Rafter Six
Sprint - Canmore Nordic Centre
Long - Bow Valley Provincial Park (Canada Cup)

Sport Classes

How many points did you get on the Score-O?
Middle - Rafter Six
Long - Bow Valley Provincial Park

Note - the Sport class results are not yet correct for the Long distance race.
May 9, 2009 Canmore Nordic Center - Permanent Courses, Spring Grand Opening

Many thanks to everyone that helped make the Grand Opening a success. Over 90 people took part on an overcast Saturday morning. The event was a big success, with lots of first-time orienteers enjoying their run and the more experienced runners enjoying some technical challenges and everyone enjoying the bbq that followed. There were a few organizational hiccups that I apologize for – the biggest problem was the use of temporary control posts at three locations that did not have the proper code – I know this caused confusion, especially for beginners. The results are online on the Trail Sport website (

Top times were:

  • Green Course: 61:57 David Svoboda

  • Blue Course: 38:20 Stuart & Gaye Harden

  • Black Course: 32:54 Alaric Fish

  • The Mountain Bike orienteering course is not yet open due to muddy conditions.

 A reminder that you can try the courses at anytime by visiting Trail Sports. It costs $5 for map, rental compass & SI stick or just $3 if you have your own SI stick. We encourage you to use the courses for training, for family outings, to teach orienteering to groups, and as one of Saturday’s participants said – this is a great birthday party activity. Please help make the permanent course project a success by encouraging your friends, workmates, clubs, and family to take part.

March 15, 2009 Ski orienteering event
RResults TThe first ski orienteering event at the Canmore Nordic Center in decades. Many impressive results, including an exciting race on the longest course with skiing experts using their skill and speed on skis to challenge the more experienced orienteering crowd. In the end Tim Andrews from Kamloops was the fastest in his first ever ski orienteering event, with Mirka Navratilova from Calgary second overall and fastest woman.

More photos
Jan 1, 2009 Kid's fun event
Results We put our new electronic timing equipment to good use for the first time in the 2009 Inaugural Kids International Invitational fun event. A great big load of fun for our four athletes and their parents. We plan to have many more informal events like this for the kids - and for the rest of us too.

Kids photo Control pickupGreat control-pickup help!
October 4, 2008 Mountain Bike orienteering at the Canmore Nordic Centre
  • Splits times (by course)
  • RouteGadget - draw your route, compare with other people's routes, run the race animation (also you can view maps and races from all across Canada). Also, check out the SplitAnalyzer feature on the main RouteGadget page.
About 30 riders took part in Alberta's first ever Mountain Bike orienteering (MTBO) race. The Canmore Nordic Center is an excellent facility for MTBO races because of its complex trail network and its variation in elevations.

In mountain-bike orienteering competitors stay on tracks and paths. So it is important that the course offers good route-choices. And it is good to remember the shortest route is not always the fastest. For example - one track goes straight over the big hill, but another much longer one goes around it and could be much faster. Which route to take depends on the rider's abilities: if you are in good physical condition, maybe you can go easily over the hill, but if you are not in so good shape, it is better to save your energy and go around. Another example - the shortest route choice in one leg goes through the very dense network area, but there is also a little bit longer route choice along the continuous road, which goes around this tricky network. So, if you are not the best navigator maybe it is better for you to go around this area on the safer way, otherwise you can waste extra time in the complex trails if you get lost.

In Saturday's race Jonathan Winn rode steadily and accurately to narrowly beat Tom Maier of Canmore and Tomas Navratil of Calgary who both had some very fast sections and were in the lead at various points during the race but lost time to navigational mistakes (see the SplitAnalyzer). In the women's race Sarah Brandreth of Calgary finished ahead of Magali Robert also of Calgary in an exciting race in which the lead changed back and forth several times - in the end Sarah's consistency won out. In the team competition Megan Dalrymple's team rode fast with some small time losses to take first place, while Karen Martino's team rode a consistent race to take second. In the youth category Lina Brandreth & Daria Sepandj both from Calgary both rode well.

It was a very fun day of racing. Thank you to everyone that took part. Thank you to our sponsors, Trail Sports & Axis Gear. And thanks to the Canmore Nordic Center, and especially Magi Scalion, for making it so easy to hold events there.

Photo album
Event website Click here: event details

August 30, 2008 "Canmore Pursuit" at the Canmore Nordic Centre
Canmore Nordic Centre - Prolog WinSplits RouteGadget  
Canmore Nordic Centre - Chase WinSplits RouteGadget* Combined prolog/chase
  • WinSplits - see your position on each leg and where you lost time (pink boxes)
  • RouteGadget - draw your route, compare with other people's routes, run the race animation (also you can view maps and races from all across Canada). RouteGadget hint: to watch the excitement of the Chase, when viewing the animation turn off the "Mass Start" option.
Over 100 people from Alberta, BC, and across Canada and the USA took part in the Barebones Pursuit. The men's elite race was won by USA national team member Eric Bone, one minute ahead of Erik Sundberg from Sweden, who was in turn just three seconds faster than another Swede Magnus Johansson who lives in Vancouver. Top Canadian finisher in fourth place was National Team member Patrick Goeres from Manitoba followed closely by Canmore's own Alaric Fish. In the the women's race sixteen-year old superstar Emily Kemp, a member of the National Junior orienteering team from Ottawa won easily. Mirka Navratilova from Calgary was second and Abbigail May from Salmon Arm was third.

Photos from
the Barebones

Alaric running in snowNight OPursuit Winners - Men's Elite

Click here for more photos
Event website This event was part of the 2008 Barebones weekend

May 3, 2008 "Try Orienteering" at the Canmore Nordic Centre
  • Standings on each course (Long & Short)
  • WinSplits - see your position on each leg and where you lost time (pink boxes)
  • RouteGadget - draw your route, compare with other people's routes, run the race animation (also you can view maps and races from all across Canada). Click here to get Help for using RouteGadge
Over 70 people tried orienteering in perfect conditions. The race was won by National Junior orienteering team member Dougal Owen in a blazing time of 28 minutes. Close behind him was Jonathan Winn, but it turned out JW missed going to control number seven, so second place was taken by Clarence Kort. Third place was hotly contested between former Canadian Team member Ken Sydney and newcomers Nick Martin and Colin Davis. Mirka Navratilova was first in the women's category, just 5 minutes behind Dougal. In second was an impressive showing from Rudy Beijer. Thank you to everyone for trying orienteering - see the schedule above for more races and clinics.
Notes Part of National Orienteering Week

Photos PhotoDougalFinishFinishVicO
Event website Click here: event details

Canmore Orienteering Maps

Canmore Nordic Centre

A new orienteering map was made in 2007 after all the new trail construction at the Nordic Centre. The foot orienteering map covers the area from the Day lodge to the Mine Meadow. In addition the map has been extended to the National Park boundary for Ski and Mountain Bike orienteering (the trails are accurately mapped, but the vegetation thickness and contours are not accurate enough for foot orienteering west of the Mine Meadow). Click the image below to see Canmore resident and national team member Charlotte MacNaughton's thoughts on the Nordic Centre map

Charlotte at CNC

Last year in 2007 two races were held on the CNC map. You can see the map, the courses, and the routes of some of the competitors by clicking on the links below. These links surf into the national "Route Gadget" database where you can see maps and courses from many events across Canada (tip: to see courses and routes, when the map opens in your browser choose a course from the "Choose competitors" box).

Central Canmore

This map was made in 2007 and covers part of the Canmore downtown and parks mostly north and east of the river. This map will be used for clinics and for informal introductory events.
 Central Canmore JPEG image

Rocky Mountain YMCA

This map was updated in 2007. At Barebones 2007 several races were held on this map including the Night Orienteering event, the 3-legged race, and the Relay.

Night O picture3 legged raceRelay start

Barrier Lake / Rafter 6

Updated in 2006 this map adjoins the Rocky Mountain YMCA map. The map is known for its nice forest and complex contour detail. This map was used for the 2006 Alberta Championships won by Canmore orienteers Alaric Fish in the men's division and Charlotte MacNaughton in the women's.

Mount Laurie

Known locally as Mt Yamnuska, the base of this famous rock wall is home to one of Canada's very best orienteering maps. What makes this map so good? It has a great variety of terrain, amazingly complex contour detail, very open forest for good running, and it is jaw-droppingly beautiful. Many major events have been hosted in this terrain including several Canadian Championships and the 2002 Asia-Pacific Championships that attracted almost 1,000 competitors from 35 countries. In 2007 the map was used for the Barebones long distance race (click on the link to see the map).


Q. I've got a question - who can I ask?
A. Send email to adrian _at_ Or try phoning 403.262.4457.

Q. Where do I get more information about events?
A. This website will, closer to the event date, have full information. You can of course always email adrian _at_ But the best way is to join the Facebook group (see below).

Q. How do I start? Can I do this?
A.  It is pretty easy to get started orienteering, a brief introduction to the map and the race format is enough to get you successfully around your first course. And then a life-time of refinement of technique and strategy awaits! The Canadian Orienteering Federation has a good introduction to orienteering that you can review before coming to your first event. New in 2009 - you can learn to orienteer on the Canmore Nordic Center permanent orienteering courses. Visit Trail Sports to get the course maps and timing sticks.

Q. What do I wear?
A. Sturdy running shoes or light hiking boots. They will get dirty, so not your favorite new shoes. Tights or long running pants and a long-sleeved shirt. Keep in mind that during the race your clothes might get snagged or torn - so wear old stuff. Bring a change of clothes (including socks!) to switch into after the race.

Q. Why doesn't Canmore have its own orienteering club?
A. Maybe one day it will, when there is enough interest to justify the administration. But for now its great being part of the Calgary club & using their equipment, infrastructure, and maps - not to mention their expertise and officials.

Q. Those orienteering maps are really detailed. How do I learn to read them?
A. It does take time and experience to become comfortable with orienteering maps. When you start you can concentrate on the black features (rocks, boulders, and man-made features such as buildings, trails, and fences) and the various colors that indicate thickness of the forest (from yellow (open fields) to white (nice open forest), to green (thick forest)). Next you should learn to interpret the brown lines (contour features). Finally you as you get more experienced you can check out the International Standard for Orienteering Maps to learn all the small nuances of orienteering maps.

Q. There's got to be some good YouTube videos to help beginners right?
A. Of course - they vary a lot in quality, but check out this one created by the Calgary Juniors

Q. Can my kids join the Calgary Junior development program?
A. Yes, they can join the JDP 2009. Even if they can't make it too (m)any Wed. evening events in Calgary, they would still be eligible for all other JDP benefits, like shirts, compass, binder, whistle, Barebones funding, (likely) also reimbursement for registration for the WCOCs. Click here for more information about the Junior Development Program.

Q. Any other places we can go for tips / tricks about orienteering?
A. Here is a good webpage from the Ottawa club. And another from the Canadian Orienteering Federation



Orienteering Lingo -

Facebook group - Canmore Orienteering news and discussions

Orienteering Calgary - the Calgary orienteering club. They often host races and clinics in the Bow Valley.

Barebones - greatest event in all Canada! Held in Canmore August 30 - September 1, 2008

Alberta Orienteering - news and schedule of events in Alberta & neighboring areas

Canadian Orienteering Federation - many Orienteering resources and links