Activity Notes

  • Sunday Skill Clinics: Topo Map Reading and Gaia GPS 101
  • Sunday, Oct 8
  • Registration opens Sept 8
  • Note morning class: 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 pm 
  • Note different location: Mt Tabor park, meet at covered picnic area next to playground and visitor center on north end of park
  • Experience level: beginner


The Sunday Skills Clinics happen on the second and fourth Sunday of the month. The second Sunday is more for beginner/intermediate topics, and the fourth Sunday is more for intermediate/advanced techniques.  Registration opens one month before the class. Topics will rotate and repeat, so if you miss one and want to take it, keep an eye out for it again.


This class will be an overview of basic wilderness navigation skills. Yes,those GPS navigation apps are pretty slick, but you still need to know how to read a topographic map and occasionally use a compass. We’ll practice all of them in a morning walkabout at Mount Tabor.


Gear needed: comfy shoes, clothing appropriate for the weather, compass, and Gaia GPS app loaded onto your phone. You can use the free trial version, you don’t need the paid subscription for this class. (If you have another GPS app already on your phone that you want to practice with that’s fine, but I won't offer any support/instruction for it.)


I used to recommend the Suunto M3 compass. However, they have dramatically increased in price, and I no longer recommend them. A less expensive, decent alternative is the Suunto A-10. I will have a few compasses available to borrow if you need one. 


Mazamas member get Gaia GPS for a FREE 1 year free Premium account. Pretty sure that's first time users only.


If you have already used the one free year, you can use this Mazamas affiliate link to get a discount on Gaia.


What we’ll cover:

  • Topographic map overview: Reading contour lines to recognize terrain features like ridges and gullies, determining elevation from contour lines, understanding map scale and measuring real-world distance.
  • Compass: dialing a bearing and walking to it, measuring a bearing from a map, how to orient your map to north with a compass. 
  • Using a “GPS bearing” - getting a bearing from your location to an objective with your GPS and then using your compass to walk to it.
  • Gaia GPS: Overview of using the app, setting up your home screen with relevant stat bars, how to record tracks, drop waypoints, use the “Guide Me” function, and more.


Pre-class study:

If you are new to reading topographic maps, using a compass, and/or using Gaia, you will get much more out of the clinic if you watch a few tutorial videos before class.

I made some YouTube videos (on the Columbia River Orienteering Club channel) and some suggested links are below.


Gaia GPS also made some nice tutorial videos on using their app, and I suggest watching those as well, especially if you are new to using the app.


Thanks, hope you can make it to our class!

 John Godino and Andy Nuttbrock, class coordinators 


Registration is Closed

We’re sorry to report that registration is now closed for this activity and we are no longer accepting applications. The activity has either reached its maximum capacity or the registration period has ended.
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Have questions about registration or your application status?

Email or call (503) 227-2345

Group Information


Have questions about registration or your application status?

Email or call (503) 227-2345