Wilderness Navigation Course - Kitsap - 2020

Navigation Course

Wilderness Navigation

The Wilderness Navigation Course provides the fundamentals of wilderness navigation to prepare you to competently and confidently enjoy hiking, climbing or getting off trail in the back country.

COVID-19: Learn about our most up-to-date guidance for participants and leaders on our COVID-19 Response page. All participants and leaders must agree to the COVID-19 Code of Conduct before participating in this Mountaineers course.

Would you like to learn how to avoid getting lost? Are you planning to go off trail where good navigation skills are needed? If so then this in-depth navigation course is for you. This course requires that you attend a wilderness navigation eLearning lecture and you must complete a one-day field trip at the Kitsap Program Center and Gold Mountain, near Bremerton WA. 
See date options below. 

The course is available to both Mountaineers members and non-members.  If you are out-of-area and cannot participate in our field trip, you can still gain useful knowledge from the online workshop modules and may be able to do an equivalent field trip or attend one when you visit our area. 

Students will have the opportunity to post questions to a forum. Instructors will answer the questions, and if students are interested, instructors will host a real-time online discussion.

This course is a graduation requirement for other Mountaineers courses including Basic Alpine Climbing, Alpine Scrambling, Backcountry Snowshoeing, and others. People who complete this course will receive a Navigation badge valid for 3 years. 


  1. Register for this Wilderness Navigation Course and pay the course fee (registration link located in green box at right).  
    Choose the Elearning lecture. By September 30, you will receive an email providing you access to the online workshop. You will be able to access the workshop for 28 days. The online workshop is expected to take 10-15 hours to complete, not including the readings in the book. You will use your compass and Baring quadrangle to solve a complex series of navigation story problems. 
    Choose a Field Trip date. There is one field trip for this course. Depending on the number of students, a second field trip will be provided for the course.
  2. Purchase the required book and two maps (listed below). Acquire a compass that meets the "Mountaineers Approved" requirements, as described in Required Equipment or Course Materials below.


The Field Trip is about 6 hours and is done in two parts.  We will meet at the Kitsap Program Center and review proper compass use, verify declination settings, take a series of bearings, and explain the leap frog and solo navigation methods.  We will then drive to the Gold Creek Trailhead.  Expect 4-5 miles round trip; ~1200 ft. elevation gain starting at the Gold Creek Trailhead for Gold Mountain.  You'll spend part of the day off trail in the woods using your compass to take bearings and following bearings. Carpooling is encouraged.  You will need a Washington state Discover Pass to park at the trailhead.  You can view other students' carpool preferences by viewing the roster on the field trip activity page. (The activity page can be found after sign-up under "My Activities" when you click your name on the Mountaineers website). 

See the field trip page below for more information about a typical field trip. Each field trip has the same meeting time and location. VERY IMPORTANT - See the Course Materials below to download the Field Trip Student Packet and pay particular attention to the driving directions. We recommend printing that packet to bring along, but we'll also have extra copies at the field trip.  A gallon size ziplock bag is useful to keep your map dry.


Prior to the eLearning Workshop you need to read the Burns & Burns book Wilderness Navigation, 3rd Ed. Mountaineers members get an additional 20% discount when ordering it online from Mountaineers Books as well as purchasing it in person at the Mountaineers Bookstore located in the Seattle Mountaineers Program Center. Please support the Mountaineers by purchasing it directly from the Mountaineers. (The eBook version can only be purchased directly from mountaineersbooks.org).

Required Equipment: See the Required Equipment tab below for more information on the Compass Features and Maps. 


  • Flash (for PC/Mac laptop and desktop computers) - Adobe Flash Player 10.3 or later
  • Desktop Browsers - Windows: Internet Explorer 8 and later, Microsoft Edge (latest version), Google Chrome (latest version), Firefox (latest version); Mac: Safari 7 and later, Google Chrome (latest version)
  • Mobile Browsers - Safari in Apple iOS 7 and later, Google Chrome (latest version) in Android OS 4.1 and later
  • Screen Resolution -  While not a requirement, Litmos, the Learning Management System (LMS), is best viewed using a minimum screen resolution of 1024×768.
  • Special Notes - User tests have shown that sporadic audio issues may occur when running the course on iPad devices. All of the lectures/presentations in the course include audio. Should you not hear audio when viewing a lecture/presentation, please verify the error on a laptop or desktop computer and then notify the Mountaineers. Please provide the specification details about your iPad device when reporting the issue, as this will help the Mountaineers technical team troubleshoot the problem. Submit errors by email to dougc@mountaineersbooks.org.

Badges you will earn:

Course Requirements
Course Activity Date Availability Leader
Navigation Field Trip
Green Mountain: Gold Creek Trail
Sat, Apr 25, 2020
Registration closed Apr 17
24 participants
4 instructors
Green Mountain: Gold Creek Trail
Sat, Oct 10, 2020
Registration closed Sep 27
32 participants
9 instructors
Course Materials
Green Mountain DNR Map.pdf




An additional explanation of the UTM grid system.

USFS Map Scales Fact Sheet - FS105-02

Paper describing the various USGS map scales.

Kitsap Branch Wilderness Navigation Course Outline

Topic outline of the course that covers eLearning and classroom versions of the course. Updated January 2018 to include electronic navigation planning using CALTOPO.