Add Adventure to Your Walks with Geocaching

There are thousands of treasures hidden in parks and forests across the country. There may even be some lurking near you. All it takes to find one is a little hiking, a little know-how, and a cool gadget that uses our government's weapon delivery system. Sound like a fun way to stay in shape? If you haven't heard of it already, it's called Geocaching.

Geocaching is deceptively simple. Somebody hides a "treasure" and gives you a few clues along with the approximate coordinates (longitude and latitude) needed to find it. Clues can be riddles to solve or landmarks to identify. Getting you close and keeping you on track is a handheld Global Positioning System (GPS). Without going into all the techno mumbo, GPS uses 24 satellites to pinpoint an exact location with great accuracy. You can pick up a GPS receiver at most electronics stores for about $100.

Finding the treasure (called a cache) can be tricky, but the real challenge often lies in reaching the area. To help you prepare, hikes are ranked in difficulty on a 1 to 5 star scale. A one-star, for example, might lead to a cache hidden just off a well-marked footpath and tucked inside a hollow tree (reachable while pushing a stroller). Meanwhile, a five-star can require rock-climbing equipment. That's pretty extreme and uncommon, but the difficulty level is limited only by one's imagination. There are caches on islands reachable by kayak or canoe and then only during a full moon. There is even an underwater cache that requires scuba equipment.

What's in a cache?
Most caches include a logbook so you can leave the date and time of your visit. Common items are key chains, maps, books, pictures, money, jewelry, tickets, games and other inexpensive items. You're usually asked to take an item and leave an item, so the contents are always changing. Most cache containers can handle the elements but it is a good idea to place items in a plastic bag for extra protection.

What are the rules?
1. Take something from the cache
2. Leave something in the cache
3. Write about it in the logbook

That's it. Avoid leaving any food item. Two words: raccoons and raccoons. Remember also that geocaching is a family event so don't leave anything inappropriate for children.

There is a ton of information about the hobby at At the site you will learn everything you need to get started. Type in your zip code and up comes nearby caches (I found 31 within a 10 mile radius of my zip).

Fall is a perfect time for hike in the woods. Grab the kids, take a friend, and get some exercise in the fresh air with a little geocaching. You just might find hidden treasure as close as your neighborhood park.

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Member Comments

we love it! its great to explore our own area or a new one! Report
I have a friend and her husband whom are hooked on geocaching. Its great exercise and adds an element of fun to their evenings together. I need to get out and try this! Report
When Dearly Beloved and I walk on hard surface trails we take a tennis ball to kick back and forth between us. Gives a bit extra excitement on a trail we know well. Report
Good article. Report
So much fun. We've even done the headquarters tour. :) The caches around Fremont are very creative. Report
I would love for my family & I to do this but we don't have a GPS or Smart Phone. :-( Report
I've never done anything like that before. Sounds fun! My daughter & I love to go for hikes. We always come home with something in our pockets from our walk & we put it in our "Nature's Treasure' box. It could be a rock, feather, pinecone, interesting piece of wood, etc. Report
I much prefer Letterboxing; all the fun, but with more creativity. :-) Report
I love geocaching! Last summer I averaged 10 miles/day of walking every time I went caching in New York City. The cool part is that it never felt like 10 miles. Of course a lot of those steps were spent walking around in circles trying to actually locate the cache's hiding spot. Report
A friend introduced me to this about 4-5yrs ago, it was fun at the time, but had forgotten about this until now, thanks for the reminder! Report
We use
m as for a GPS unit we use our phones and the site's app to find caches. Report
I've never done this but I would love to! I don't know where to get started though. Is there a website that everyone uses? Report
I have done some geocaching with my Brother and Niece. This is a great family sport for the kids that are on the computers and watching TV all the time.They find it a lot of fun Report
The past few years I have been around RVers and Snowbirds...many love geocaching. They are a fun upbeat group with an adventure ready to go at a moments notice. I love that it's multi-generationa
l too. Report
Geocaching is a blast! We found two caches at the Indiana Dunes! We used the Android App instead of a GPS. Report


About The Author

Chris Stormann
Chris Stormann
Chris has a doctorate in social and behavioral sciences.