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Navigation Course

Wilderness Navigation

Wilderness Navigation Course Tacoma May 2021

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.

The Tacoma Mountaineers wilderness navigation course is currently being taught in two parts which consist of an online classroom and field trip. To successfully complete the course and earn the Basic Navigation badge you must complete both parts.

The online classroom portion will cover map and compass usage.

The Field trip portion will reinforce the skills you learned in the online portion as well as give you a chance to use the skills you learned. There is also a final exam given during the field trip portion.

Things to Do

Register for the Tacoma Wilderness Navigation Course and pay the course fee.

Register for the Online Map and Compass course

Register for the field trip

Obtain the required course materials and equipment as listed in the course “Required Equipment” and “Course Materials” tabs.

Student expectations:

Successfully complete the online course before the field trip. The online course information will be sent to student’s approximately  2.5 weeks prior to the field trip. Please make sure you have all the needed course materials on hand by this time. The online course may take up to ten hours or more to complete. Please budget time to do this course and do not wait till the last minute in an attempt to get it done.

The field trip will be at the Irish cabin property which is located just outside of the Carbon River entrance to Mt. Rainier national park. The field trip will proceed even in the event of inclement weather. Please be prepared to deal with outdoor travel and working in these conditions. For the field trip you will need the following equipment typical of any Mountaineers outing:

Field trip equipment:


  • A Mountaineers approved compass.
  • Sturdy hiking boots. (No tennis shoes)
  • Rain gear and extra warm clothing, including hat and gloves (No cotton clothing*)
  • The Ten Essentials.
  • Lunch, extra food and at least 2 liters of water.
  • Zip lock bag for map and handouts (gallon size).
  • Sharp pencil.
  • (optional) Clipboard.


*A note on clothing and footwear

It's extremely important that you come prepared wearing proper clothing and footwear. Weather at this location is rarely ideal with it being either cold, raining or both. In compliance with the Mountaineers club wide navigation standards, this exercise involves steep terrain that is often slick and muddy.  Additionally, this exercise involves some water crossings and bushwhacking. Wearing cotton clothing items such as jeans will not adequately keep you warm, dry, nor able to move through terrain effectively. Tennis shoes similarly are not made for hiking off-trail in varied weather conditions. For our students and instructors safety we ask everyone that attends the field trip to show up as prepared as possible so they do not put themselves or others in danger in the event of an injury or accident. Students who do not come to the field trip with proper equipment may not be able to participate for safety reasons. 


Field trip end time

There isn't a definite end time of the field trip. Be prepared to stay in the field all day. It is best not to make personal plans the evening of the trip as we cannot guarantee when you will be home. Every student in the course will be navigating through off-trail terrain, and this means people will finish at different times. It is required that everyone stay together until the last student safely returns to ensure everyone is accounted for during our final head count.

Badges you will earn:

Course Requirements

This course has no scheduled activities.

Required Equipment

Mountaineers approved compass.

Wilderness navigation, 3rd Edition  by Bob Burns and Mike Burns

Computer to complete online portion a tablet or smartphone won't work.

USGS Baring map, buy from mountaineers or download and print yourself.

If you choose to print this map yourself keep in mind it is very large, around 22x27 inches.

Course Materials

You must register for this course to see course materials.