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  Here are some forms to download with course information:

Bluffwoods TRIM Course Map

Course Information

Group Special Use Permit

Here is an example picture of one of the TRIM course signs:



The St. Joseph area now has it's very own Orienteering TRIM Course.  In orienteering lingo, TRIM means a permanent fixed course with permanent  (usually metal) markers as opposed to a temporary event course with flags or ribbons as markers. This course is located at Bluff Woods Conservation Area a few miles South of St. Joseph on Hwy 59.  Enter from Bethel Road.  There are three (3) entrances to Bluff Woods, the one you want is Bethel Road.  Upon entering the MDC land, the course start is on the north side of Bethel Road at the entrance to the Special Use Area.  There is a yellow tubular steel gate viable from Bethel Road.  Park on this gate road or obtain a special use permit and gate codes to drive further up the road and use the camping area.  

Jackson "Jack" Jones of Boy Scout Troop 21 completed the course as his Eagle Scout Project in cooperation with officials from the Possum Trot Orienteering Club (PTOC) from Kansas City and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC). Richard Neuburger, Mike Stewart and Mike Shifman all provided lots of assistance and expert advice for this project.  Lonnie Messbarger, Area Manager of Bluff Woods Conservation Area provided his guidance and approvals for this project.  Troop 21 adults and scouts set up the course and have pledged to maintain the course.  The course consists of 17 control points.  These points are marked with a 3'x5" aluminum placard with white and orange orienteering marker.  The points range in difficulty from easy to difficult.  These points are located between 4' to 5' off the ground on the north side of non-commercially viable trees. These control points will be marked with the control point as it corresponds to the map to let you know you have found the correct point.  Group leaders may contact Troop 21 to obtain an "Answer Key" of the code words of each point if they wish to verify their scouts or groups abilities. 


This course provides area citizens, youth and scouts the opportunity to practice their land navigation and orienteering skills in a professionally set up course close to St. Joseph.  Maps and instructions may be downloaded from the Pony Express Council website (color) www.ponyexpressbsa.orgExternal Link and black and white maps may be found at the "rounder"  at the Pony Express council office.  

More information about the great sport of orienteering can be found at the home page of the PTOC Link   After you've honed your skills on this course, consider participating in one of the many fun Possum Trot orienteering events to further your skills. PTOC also maintains TRIM courses at Ernie Miller Park and Shawnee Mission Park in the Kansas City Metro area.  Maps can be found at the respective visitor centers of those parks.

Please note that Bluff Woods is a MDC area.  Please obey all regulations and laws, be mindful of hunting season and regulations and if participating in the course with groups of more than ten (10) people, contact the area manager to fill out a special use permit.  The permit is free but must be completed to allow management of the area. Information and directions from printing a permit may be found at: Link.    Be prepared for the weather, insects and other issues based on the time of year.  Orienteering is best practiced in the non-summer months but can be enjoyed all year.  Practice 'Leave No Trace' and consider bringing a trash bag with you on the course to pick up any litter for a service project. 

Step by Step Instructions for using the Orienteering Course.

1. Download the Map and Instructions from this site - These are meant to be printed on legal size paper in landscape format for the best results and clearest detail.  If possible print in color but the maps may be used equally well in black and white.

2. If participating in a group of 10 more or people OR if planning to camp in the Bluff Woods Special Use area, fill out the Special Use Permit and submit to the Bluff Woods Conservation Area manager for approval.  The permit is free but required to avoid issue and to acquire gate code.

3. Bring maps and compass and necessary gear, water, etc. for a fun day of orienteering.  The map dictates certain routes to make for more easy or more difficult tracks or you may complete all 17 points.  

4. For restrooms, there is a vault toilet further East on Bethel Road next to the Forest Nature Trail near the pavilion. 

5. If camping or staying in the area, make sure you police any trash in the area and remember that there are no ground fires allowed.  You may bring a fire pit but please do not attempt to make a ground fire.

6. If you discover a control marker is missing, damaged, or vandalized, please contact Troop 21 to report the issue so that it may be corrected. 

7. Be Prepared, and HAVE FUN.

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