Typical at most local and national orienteering events, point-to-point orienteering in the U.S. is arranged in color-named courses ranging from novice/beginner to experienced/advanced. Sometimes, just to shake things up, other types of courses are designed, which are described elsewhere.
Below is a brief summary of the the courses:
The beginner course. Perfect for those who are unsure of themselves in the forest or have little or no topographic map experience. Routes of travel are along trails, streams and other linear features. The compass is used largely to keep proper map orientation. Navigation is easy and courses are short. For the U.S. championships, this is the expected difficult level for experienced orienteers 12 years and younger.
The advanced beginner course is designed for older teen and adult beginners with some basic knowledge of map and terrain identification. Navigational problems are easy to moderate and the competitor will be near easily identifiable re-location features. For the U.S. championships, this is the expected difficult level for experienced orienteers 13-14 years.
The intermediate course is designed for older teenagers and adults with moderate experience. On this course, the competitor will spend the majority of his or her time off the park/forest's trail network and will need to use the compass more extensively. Checkpoints are on major terrain features. For the U.S. championships, this is the expected difficult level for experienced orienteers 15-16 years .
The expert/advanced courses are all of the same difficulty level but vary in length. The navigation is tricky with few re-location features. These courses are designed for older teens and adults with extensive, previous experience and good physical conditioning.
More details about what skills each course tests are described in "How to Select Your Orienteering Course," by Karen Dennis.