Geocaching – Become a Modern Day Explorer!

Geocaching is a hobby or pastime that combines the use of a computer and handheld GPS with good family oriented, healthy outdoor fun. Someone once compared this hobby with a treasure hunt that uses high tech equipment instead of the old hand scratched paper map.

The process basically goes like this, someone hides a container (The Cache), then posts the latitude and longitude (Waypoints) on the internet and people go searching for it. So, if the GPS takes you to the location, where is the challenge? Well, GPS usually gets you within about 20 feet leaving you to follow clues and other tips as to its actual location. Depending on the skill of the person hiding the cache and the location, locating the treasure can be quite a trick!

Geocaching Types

Traditional Cache – This type will usually contain, at a minimum, a log book in a container where you can leave your name and comments. Many of these caches will contain trinkets or knickknacks (Swag) which are for you to take one as long as you leave something else in its place. After finding such a cache, or any cache, you would report back to the website that you found it.

Multi-Cache – These involve two or more locations with the final location having a physical container. Often, the first location given to you will take you to a location where you find clues to the second location and so on.

Mystery or Puzzle Caches – These can involve complicated puzzles or riddles which must be solved in order to determine the coordinates. This one allows for greater expression of creativity on the part of the person hiding the cache.

Earth Cache – These are placed in special locations where a specific geological or scientific feature can be observed. These usually contain notes to explain or educate the finder about the feature.

Letterboxing – In this version, you typically exchange rubber stampings with the hidden box. Your stamp goes in the log book in the box and the stamp in the box is stamped into your log book.

Also, as you travel you may find “Travel Bugs” or “Traveler Tags” which are meant to be moved from cache to cache. Owners add these to their cache and then watch them as they travel from place to place. When you find one of these and move it, make sure you log the information into the Geocaching website.

Getting Started

Well, at a minimum you need a computer to find site listings and a handheld GPS unit. Typically, the road map GPS units will not give you the kind of information you need as they are designed to get you safely down the road.

There are several websites that support this hobby but the largest by far seems to be From this website, you get the locations of existing caches and return there to record your findings, comments, success or failure to find them.

Go any of the hosting websites and find the spot where you can enter the zip code of the location in which you want to hunt. The website will give you a list of current caches in that area and the locations. These locations can then be used along with your GPS unit to get you into the close vicinity of the cache.


Like most any activity involving the great outdoors, there can be risks. Critters like snakes, wasps and spiders will often hang out in the same places that a cache is hidden. Poison ivy, oak or sumac can also be in the vicinity so use a bit of care and common sense when searching for a cache. Wear gloves when sticking your hands into holes and when hiking carry a walking stick to knock down spider webs, and to beat the ground to warn snakes of your approach.

I believe it is a good idea to have a cell phone with you for any kind of emergency that might come along. Being safe is critical to having fun!

Final Thoughts

Remember to always leave the cache in as good if not better than the condition in which you find it. It is a good idea to carry some extra Ziploc bags with you to replace the worn ones you might find along the hunt.

Minimize your impact to the environment by sticking to existing trails and packing your trash back out. I also carry an old grocery bag with me to pick up any other trash I find along the way.

The best part of the Geocaching hobby is discovering new and interesting places near you that you never knew existed. Avoid making this activity into a contest and just have fun with it, enjoying the places it takes you.

Other descriptors include GPS Games, Treasure Hunting and GPS Treasure Hunting.

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