New Year’s Day Orienteering will return to Rentschler Forest MetroPark’s Camp Timberhill on Wednesday, Jan. 1. Participants can begin anytime from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. CONTRIBUTED

How to spend New Year’s Day with a treasure hunt-like event in Butler County

Orienteering offers participants an opportunity to spend time outdoors on New Year’s Day.

The annual outing will return to Rentschler Forest MetroPark’s Camp Timberhill on Wednesday. Participants can begin anytime from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“While we host orienteering events year-round, we liked the idea of New Year’s for a couple reasons. For experienced orienteers, we do a New Year’s Eve night course — a non-traditional get together for those who have little interest in loud, drunken parties, but want a little quiet time in nature, shared with some like-minded friends when they finish. For those who want to start off the year with their favorite activity running it walking through the woods while solving a mentally-challenging puzzle,” said Mike Minium, event director, Orienteering Cincinnati.

Orienteering is an internationally recognized sport that requires navigational skills using a map and a compass to move through series of check points in a diverse environment, usually in unfamiliar terrain. The sport can be enjoyed as a walk in the woods or as a more competitive activity.

“Orienteering is an absolutely wonderful way to get outdoors and get some exercise while enjoying the natural wonders. Winter orienteering can at times be cold or slippery, but it is a beautiful time to be in the woods and appreciate the natural environment. We offer six courses of different lengths and difficulty, so there is something for everyone, from families with young children to competitive elite runners, to senior citizens looking for a way to stay active and healthy,” Minium said.

He said the course is a little bit like a treasure hunt. You have a detailed map, and at each of the points you try to find, there’s an orange and white flag there, along with an electronic timer that records you’ve found the location and the time you arrived there.

“The format of the event is the same every year, but the courses are always different. We put the control markers in different places, so that it is always a new and different challenge.,” Minium said.

Beginners will receive instructions and pointers from the event leaders. Those that have never participated before can expect to cover the distance of about a mile, all on the park’s main trails. For more advanced courses, the navigation moves off trail, and the distance becomes longer. All participants are encouraged to dress appropriately for the weather conditions.

“We had about 90 individual participants last year. People come for many different reasons. Some just like to get outside and get a little exercise, while enjoying the natural environment that MetroParks strives to preserve. Others enjoy the challenge of competing and trying up complete a course in the shortest possible time,” Minium said

For those more experienced, there will be a New Year’s Eve night course on Tuesday, Dec. 31 at Camp Timberhill, starting at 6 p.m. Pre-registration by email is encouraged.

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