What the colors mean

The first orienteering maps used in the U.S. were enhanced, two or three-color topo maps with details added such as water (lakes and streams), rock features (cliffs and boulders) and vegetation boundaries. Now, maps have five colors and give a lot more information.

Brown: Land forms
Land forms are shown using contour lines with a contour interval (differences in elevation) of 5 meters. Additional symbols are provided to show e.g., earth bank, knoll, depression, small depression, pit, broken ground, etc.

Black: Rock features and man-made objects
This group covers cliffs, boulders, boulder fields, and boulder clusters, etc., as well as man-made objects including roads, trails, power lines, stone walls, fences, hunting stands, buildings, etc.

Blue: Water features
This group covers lakes, ponds, rivers, water channels, marshes, and wells, etc.

White/Green/Yellow: Vegetation
This group covers vegetation. White is typically open runnable forest. Green means a forest of low visibility with reduced running speed--the darker the green, the harder it is to see and run through. Areas of darkest green should be avoided. Yellow color shows open areas (think of the sun shining on them). Green vertical stripes are used to indicate undergrowth (slow or difficult running) but otherwise with good visibility

This info is taken from the Orienteering USA website.

There are two map specifications used by Sage.  While they are similar there are some very slight differences between them.

  • International Specification for Orienteering Maps (ISOM) is used for most distance events.  The scale is usually 1:10000 meaning that 1cm on the map is 100m in reality.  The complete map symbols of ISOM are shown on this page.
  • International Specification for Sprint Orienteering Maps (ISSOM) is used for sprint events.  It is a much more detailed map with a scale of 1:4000 or 1:5000.  The complete map symbols of ISSOM are shown on this page.