New Year’s Day orienteering tradition returns to Governor Bebb MetroPark

Orienteering Cincinnati has around 40 events per year in parks throughout area.

Community members who want to celebrate the New Year with an outdoor, physical activity will want to take advantage of two opportunities to participate in local orienteering events on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

“We’ve done orienteering events on New Year’s for more than 20 years. Those of us who regularly orienteer thought it would be nice to start the year off with our favorite activity, and the New Year’s Day event always brings out both regulars and newcomers who want to try something new,” said Mike Minium, event director, Orienteering Cincinnati.

Last year, New Year’s Day was very rainy, he said. Despite moderate to heavy rain for the entire day, 51 people came out on New Year’s Day, and 20 participated in our New Year’s Eve Night course for experienced orienteers.

“This is a great opportunity to start the year off by getting outdoors in nature, exploring one of Butler County’s MetroParks. Orienteering can be compared to a treasure hunt — participants get a very detailed map of the park and attempt to locate a series of marker flags that are precisely shown on the map. You can go as fast or slow as you like, and there are six different courses of varying length and difficulty. Beginners can take a one-mile stroll on the park trails, while those who want a more navigational and physical challenge can choose a course several miles in length, which requires mostly off-trail navigation, and an understanding of how the terrain and vegetation is represented,” Minium said.

As an internationally recognized sport, orienteering is an outdoor adventure in which participants find their way using a map. It is like a treasure hunt. Participants will receive a detailed map of the park, which shows a series of checkpoints they must try to locate.

“Orienteering has the same attraction of puzzles and games, where you have to figure out the fastest and easiest way to get to each flag. Even if you are doing a course in a familiar park, the course will be different, with flags in different places and different navigational challenges. It is a new adventure every time,” Minium said.

People of all ages and abilities participate — from families with young children to seniors in their seventies and above. Sometimes you see a whole family completing a course together; other families split up and each do different courses, individually. Beginner instruction will be available at the New Year’s Day event.

“Governor Bebb is a hilly park, so even the easiest course will probably have at least one uphill. There are several trails, a restored pioneer village, a covered bridge, and plenty of woods. The park has a great diversity of bird life, animals, and plants. There will be plenty for any nature enthusiast, as well as hikers and runners,” Minium said.

Orienteering Cincinnati (OCIN) has around 40 events per year in different parks throughout the area. The organization also offers various educational programs to school groups, scouts and others. In late March, Orienteering Cincinnati will be hosting the Orienteering USA National Championships at Carter Caves State Park in eastern Kentucky, bringing in competitive and recreational orienteers from around the country.

The New Year’s events are in partnership with MetroParks of Butler County, where OCIN provides several events per year, including an “Egg Orienteering” course for young kids in spring, and a “Trail of Treats” around Halloween.


What: New Year’s Day Orienteering

Where: Governor Bebb MetroPark, 1979 Bebb Park Lane, Okeana

When: Sun., Jan.1, with start times between 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (The New Year’s Eve event will be 5 to 8 p.m. Dec. 31)

Event Fees: $10 for OCIN members and $15 for non-members.

More info: and Email Mike Minium at with questions. Events are held rain, shine, or snow. Pre-registration for both courses is available online at through Fri., Dec. 30. However, participants may also register on site. Participants are encouraged to dress appropriately for the weather conditions.

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