75 AWESOME ideas for your next Geocaching trail (and cache)

What is better than a geocache? Indeed, it’s a trail of geocaches? The biggest value of this game is amazing places, views, and experiences it leads to. So much time, creativity and energy go into creating some of those trails.

I especially like caches rich with content and educational value. This way we can learn something new every day while traversing this beautiful planet Earth.

Below is a list of 75 thematic trail ideas for your consideration. Some are my own, some I was lucky to find whilst geocaching. If you have seen some top class trails & ideas – please let me know in the comments section bellow.

All trails are separated into categories: Nature; Architecture, buildings and engineering; Hobbies, personal and romantic; History; Fun & pleasure; Educational; Religious experiences.


Nature

  1. Pirate treasure trail: islands of a river

A pirate treasure trail may take you kayaking, canoeing or sailing from island to island to collect loot of a notorious pirate. Every self-respecting pirate must have a hideout or two. It absolutely must be marked by skull & bones. But why is the rum always gone?


  1. RiverWalk Geo Tour – hiking, rafting, and zip lining around town

RiverWalk is a 30+ cache trail near Chattahoochee RiverWalk in Columbus, Georgia. Creators present it as „urban whitewater course plus hiking, biking, and kayaking “. I find it an amazing idea and wish that more place like this would appear all around the world.


  1. Best swimming, bathing & fishing places

Finding a clean, safe, accessible swimming places in the summer is awesome, especially when you are away from home. A lot of geocachers will thank you if you map local lakes, rivers, and reservoirs for a quick cool-down.


  1. Off the beaten path – forest walks

Forest walks can be a fantastic way to recharge your inner batteries. The fresh air, the sights, the smells … Marking best forest walking trails can be your next trail. Caches can educate finders about nature, environmental protection and so on.


  1. The birdhouse & bughouse trail

Did you know, that different species of birds prefer and settle different birdhouses? Height, orientation, entry hole diameter – it all affects which species of birds will settle inside.

If you know some basic woodworking – a birdhouse trail made by you might be an option. You could also turn it into an educational walk about birds, bird watching, etc.


  1. Swamp & marshes trails

There are quite a few trails to enjoy – swamps, an essential part of the forest ecosystem. Mapping such trails in your area will attract more of the nature loving geocachers. Besides bugs, it can also help you attract more Travel bugs into your area 😉

Geocaching - swamp trail
There are many recreational and educational trails like these in the nature.

  1. Magical valleys: nightingales, butterflies, wildlife

There are special & rare places all around the world, where you can enjoy especially rich and lush wildlife. These are usually the places untouched by agricultural farming and harboring many species of birds, insects, and animals. Do you know one in your area? Put a trail there for some Geocaching nature lovers.


  1. The little people of the forest: fairies, gnomes, trolls and leprechauns

Did you know, that every forest is magical? It’s full of gnomes, fairies, trolls, leprechauns and all kinds of magical creatures. Just imagine following a trail of tiny gnome doors and finding a geocache behind every single one of them. The kids would absolutely love that.

Geocaching - little door in the forest
Home of the little forest people. They must be the ones muggling all the forest geocaches…

  1. Rafting, kayaking, canoeing trails

For an active day on the water. Yet info on good rivers, conditions, resting places can be tricky to come by. By creating a trail and marking such spots you would open up new corners of the world to fellow geocachers.


  1. Canals & waterways

These might be popular in countries with extensive canals/waterways system & culture. I have seen it in the UK, Netherlands, Belgium. Canals are usually quite long and will get you cache-count up by few dozen at least.


  1. Stargazing

Due to light pollution, it is much harder to find good spots for star gazing. Can you mark a few spots where the night sky is spectacular? Or maybe mark the local observatories?


  1. Deep dark haunted woods

There is a chilling sense once you enter deep dark woods. Are you brave enough? What’s that lurking in the shadows? Maybe you will discover a gingerbread house in the middle…


  1. A thousand islands

You might consider placing caches in the lakes with many islands. There is a 4 lakes area in my country (Lithuania) which is full of history and a castle on one of the islands. Every single island in the lakes has its own ancient legend.


  1. Chasing the bigfoot

For the bigfoot chasers – a trail through a forest full of “evidence”, like feet marks, pieces of fur, tent of branches, etc. At the end, every geocacher will be convinced there is at least one lurking in the forest nearby.


  1. UFO chasers

For those into the UFO theories and paranormal, marking sighting spots may be an option.


  1. Life‘s a beach

If you live near an ocean or a sea, marking the best beaches may be a way to attract fellow geocachers to the area. Not too far from my hometown, in the Latvian city of Ventspils, there is a beach dedicated to kids with tons of activities and entertainment.


  1. Environmental adventure series (GC1XP2W)

Venango Conservation District (VCD) at Two Mile Run County Park in Franklin, PA. created a trail of  6 caches in an “Environmental Adventure” series. Trail’s purpose is to educate visitors on sustainable natural resource management and focuses on erosion and sediment control, agricultural management, and water quality improvement.


Architecture, buildings, engineering

  1. Must see architecture pearls in the cities

If you travel to a distant city and have very limited time, a dedicated trail of “must see” architecture may be a geocaching life-saver. I realized this after visiting Barcelona. It’s a city of architectural wonder. Buildings by Gaudi are out of this world.

Chinese garden … Berlin! Gardens Of The World park and exchibition. A wonderfull place to visit.
A must-see architectural pearl, a monastery in Kaunas (GC54CP4)

  1. Abandoned military bases and installations

There are lots of military bases laying abandoned in various countries. Lucky ones got transformed into museums, like Plokstine’s nuclear missiles launch facility near Plateliai (GC3WE08), Lithuania. Yet many more lay hidden in the forests, inside hills, waiting for brave geocachers to pass by.

A nuclear missiles launch base in Plateliai, now turned into a cold war museum.

  1. Castles, hill forts, medieval history

Historical and ancient structures exist in many countries. For the history, exploration enthusiasts. Every castle is unique and usually has a long and rich history. Hillforts are perfect 3* terrain hiding spots in otherwise very flat countries.

We have met these history enthusiasts while searching for a geocache nearby.

  1. Urban exploration, abandoned buildings

Each city has a building or two that are abandoned, attracting urban explorers. The winner in this category is probably Detroit. You might create a trail marking best urban exploration targets in your city.


  1. Amazing feats of engineering

Each city has some small (or big) wonders of engineering – exceptional bridges, monuments, buildings. A trail of caches could tell a story how it was created: authors, difficulties, novel solutions, etc. Think Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, California, USA.


  1. Lighthouses

For the enthusiasts of lighthouses, seaside and wild forces of nature. Every lighthouse, it’s signals are different. For stronger experiences – geocache during a storm.


Hobbies, personal and romantic

  1. Childhood dreams

A typical forest. But only at a first glance. Our team called the trail “The dreams of my childhood”. It’s a trail of 6 hides showing the forest through the eyes of a “happy and wild gang of 10-year-olds” that grew up in nearby “communal flats”. Our forest was always full of adventure, fun, and mischief (from time to time).

Every single spot is special in one way or another – a sandy hill that reminds me of long hours of winter fun; large roots of a pine tree that were our tree fort. On the third spot, we saw deer roaming the woods for the first time.


  1. Valentine‘s day trip

Lead your loved one on a Valentine’ day trail – full of romance, poetry, and geocaches. Did you read about a guy who proposed to his fiancé at the end of such a trail? You will be a geocaching hero to every romantic soul who tries out such a trail.


  1. Movies, heroes, and villains: 007 series, Game of Thrones, etc.

There is a trail in San Francisco dedicated solely to the characters of Game of Thrones. Talk about hardcore fans of the series. Each character, each family get a separate cache. The same was done for all the James Bond, agent 007, movie characters.


History

  1. Napoleonic trails

On his paths of conquest, Napoleon visited a lot of places in Europe and even Africa. He event had some decent parties along the way. Marking such places, battlefields and the history behind them may lure some history lovers to your trail.


  1. WW2 / WWI places

Yet another trail marking battlefields, trenches and the forts of WWI and WW2. Guaranteed to satisfy any history fan. A good example is my hometown Kaunas in Lituania – a closed military city – and a class I military fortress for the Tsar’s army in 19th century. 13 forts, supporting buildings and many miles of trenches were constructed to defend against (mostly) germans.

Geocaching hide and anti-soviet resistance monument in Lithuania
A geocache hiding spot and a monument for the anti-soviet resistance fighters in Lithuania. GC: GC5X9ND

  1. Historic cemeteries

A trail leading you to historical cemeteries, marking the tombstones of famous historical figures. Not exactly my cup of tea. Yet I have seen quite a few trails exactly like this. And descriptions are often of high quality for this one. It’s good that geocaching rules forbid hiding the caches underground 😉


  1. Wild Wild West

For the brave explorers, gold diggers and wagon dwellers. A good set of caches on the trail would describe the life and challenges faced by the colonizers of the wild wild west. Fur trappers, railway builders, gold diggers, highwaymen, sheriffs, saloon girls, bounty hunters… All of them have tales to tell.


  1. The Founding Fathers

Most countries experienced declaration of independence in one period of its history or another. People responsible for preparation and signing of such documents are remembered and respected. Dedicating a quality trail for the signatories may help preserve the memory and educate the younger (and older) generation.


  1. The proud Scottish clans

A trail dedicated to the heritage of proud Scottish clans, their history, castles, and traditions. And kilts. And bagpipes. Good educational and informational value.


  1. Ancient places of worship

There are many places of ancient worship present in various countries. Think Stonehenge in England. There are quite a few ancient pagan worship places in the Baltic states in eastern Europe. It is very interesting to find these distant memories of the past in some deep dark forests.


  1. Heritage Trails – celebrating history and countryside.

There are many places seemingly untouched by time and civilization. Find out and celebrate country’s history and heritage. Such trail may lead you through some open air museums and museum-like towns, like Williamsburg, Jamestown and the rest in Virginia, USA.


  1. Minorities’ heritage

A trail telling stories about minorities in the country. I was very surprised after finding a cache hidden at the “Armenian weekend school” in my country, some 2200+ kilometers away from Armenia. It had me thinking – how comes we have a large variety of nationalities, religious and people in Lithuania. Apparently, the traders, mercenaries, refugees, invited craftsmen formed the face of my country quite a bit. This is a rich layer of history that was completely unknown to me and would form a perfect trail, packed with interesting info, education, and experiences.


  1. History now!

How are the existing places, buildings and people from history tied to today’s world? I had this trail idea whilst visiting Belfast. There is a hall where soldiers danced for the last time before being shipped to the shores of Normandy. Marking and describing such notable places might form a nice trail to follow.


  1. Heritage crafts & arts

A trail celebrating heritage crafts and arts. Think blacksmithing, glass making, woodworking, weaving, etc. In our fast moving society, most of such knowledge was lost to all but a few selected craftsmen. A trail like this would fit well in open air museums that celebrate history and heritage.


  1. In their footsteps

Following the steps of emigrants from the country. I had this idea after discovering a lot of countrymen re-locating after various wars and so on. I was interested – what became of them, did they do well in their new homeland, who are their children and so on. I.e. Leonard Cohen’s grandfather was a rabbi in my country who later emigrated to the United States of America. A trail would celebrate such countrymen and follow in their footsteps.


  1. Civilizations long lost

Most countries have traces of civilizations long lost. Take Vikings or Aztecs for example. They are gone, but the stepped pyramids or rune stones remain. Trails dedicated to such topics could pack a lot of education and exceptional experiences for the geocachers.

Geocaching - ancient stone of worship
Round stones with a hole in the middle was a worshiping place in ancient times.

  1. Trade routes: spices, tea & tobacco

Luxury goods drove exploration and trade from the ancient times. Think silk road, the discovery of naval routes or colonization of Americas. A good example is the Port of London, where wharves, docks, piers and warehouses played an essential role in the growth of empire. A trail could tell a tale of a spice trader: trade routes and goods, perils and danger, everyday life events.


  1. The secret societies

For the lovers of conspiracy theories – a trail presenting the secret societies throughout the history. Their meeting places, secret hideouts, and stashes.


  1. Uncomfortable history: Jewish holocaust, ghetto places

Europe (and my country – Lithuania) has a part of uncomfortable history, related to the Jewish holocaust – the shooting places, concentration and labor camps, ghettos. I would have never found a segment of ghetto wall in Warsaw. Yet a geocache led me there. Such events have to be remembered and prevented in the future.

Geocaching - memorial place of Jewish genocide
One of the places of Jewish genocide – located at a forest nearby to Jonava in Lithuania. Leaving stones at the site is a jewish tradition for the visitors of the monument.

  1. Old battlefields

For the military enthusiasts, a trail of battle places, memorials and such may be an attractive offer. A nice add-on would be short excerpts of soldiers’ memoirs in each cache, describing their life, experience, their thoughts, and dreams. Mark Knopfler has a perfect ballad about this called “Bonaparte”. And the song was written based on a diary by a soldier of the “grande armee”.


  1. The kings and queens

European usually like to remember their kings, queens and other rulers. Usually, a lot of castles, events, and places are associated with them or their activities. You might build a trail celebrating a good (or bad) leader and present his/her life and works in tiny geocaching steps.


Fun & pleasure

  1. Large sized map symbols

If you have lots of containers and a lot of patience, creating some geo art will be FUN and very noticeable 😉 Below are some of the ideas to help you start imagining:

Geocaching - shape of an eagle
Another nice example of geocaching art – an soaring eagle.

 

Geocaching - shape of basketball
Lithuania’s second religion is basketball. It’s not a surprise to find a geocaching art – a basketball close to our capital city – Vilnius.

 

Geocaching - shape of train.
A choo choo trail. And insane amount of effort must have gone into making this.

 

Geocaching - shape of Lithuania
Another shape of a country – Lithuania

  1. Best parks and activities for kids

Geocaching with kids can sometimes become straining. I absolutely love trails and hides, that highlight parks, play areas and other entertainment where our kids can enjoy a short break from the cache-to-cache hopping. This really helps us balance the trip and turn it into a memorable event.

Geocaching - map of a park
A park full of geocaches – perfect place to rest and relax.

  1. Best local cuisine & pubs

When traveling to foreign cities, it’s a great pleasure to taste the local cuisine. Not the fast food tourist traps. A trail dedicated to best food and drinks would be very much appreciated by the hungry and thirsty geocachers.


  1. City special sights & views (must visit)

I had a chance to visit few foreign cities. And then there is a serious Geocaching problem – you have to visit the best Geocaching spots in, like, ½ days. Filtering those with highest “fav points” count might be tricky without premium account. Thus having a trail of “must visit” caches in a foreign city can be a geocaching life-saver.


  1. Bear Grylls: Man vs Wild

The fearless ex-SAS soldier traverses the wild, explaining survival techniques, tips, and tricks. You can create a similar trail too. Just please, please, do not eat the snakes and frogs unless you are really desperate and need to.


  1. An uphill battle

A Geocaching introductory trail, starting at 1* difficulty and 1* terrain, and growing to 5* difficulty and terrain. You can create a maximum length trail of 81 caches this way (you rank difficulty/terrain at 0.5 point increments). This would be perfect for Geocaching mega-events as a challenge (timed) trail.

Geocaching - difficult trails
We will …. NEVER…. GIVE … UP … GEOCACHING….. 😉

  1. The poetry trip

A trail where every hidden cache has a relevant poem attached. Be its praises to the beauty of nature, odes to love, history or friendship… You could ask all logbook entries to be in poetry verses.


  1. LEGO trail

LEGO is very popular toy amongst kids of the world. There is like a gazillion of different sets.

Why not create a trail of LEGO builds. I.e. a cache container near a fire station could have a LEGO firemen car attached to it. A cache near a police station… well, you get the main idea.


  1. Coffee lovers

Searching online for trails, I found one that I really liked – coffee lovers 😀

As the author puts it in the description:

“Is there such a thing as the best cup of coffee, or is it all a myth? (GC5P6E9)

This begins the quest for the best cup of coffee in San Francisco. As a coffee lover working in SOMA (South of Market), I’ve had the pleasure to frequent many cafes, each with their own points of interest. I know the taste for things, especially coffee, is highly subjective, but in this series, I will highlight those that have been most enjoyable to my palette.” I would absolutely love to travel such an urban trail 😉


  1. Fear of the dark

A nightly geocache hunt, where finders have to follow a trail of reflective stickers attached to trees, bushes and other objects. Forest differs quite a bit when traveling in daytime and night. A rush of adrenalin is guaranteed for night cachers.


  1. Geocaching race

Hide a trail of caches. Ask the finders to find, sign and log all of them. Take their start and end times. Compare the scores and post a monthly list of champions in the logbook as a note. I.e. visit the largest towns in the county, state, etc.


  1. Around the world in 80 Geocaches

Following the adventures of the “Around the world in 80 days” crew, an around the world trail would be an ultimate geocaching experience. Such a giant task would take coordination and efforts of multiple geocachers around the world, but would definitely worth it.


  1. Seaside: letters in a bottle

Finding a sea washed letter in a bottle is an amusement on its own. Creating such a trail might be an interesting option. Contents of each bottle could give clues for the next find, tell a continuous story or tell the same story from different people perspectives.


  1. Draw/paint the place.

A trail going through picturesque and scenic places. For the log, you could ask finders to draw this place in a logbook. Add a bunch of color pencils and you will have an exceptional cache attracting “favorite points” in no time.


  1. Dinosaur eggs

Grab a set of semi-round stones and paint it with bright colors. Describe the dinosaur within. Younger kids should love such a trail.


Educational

  1. Top 100 famous people of your country

A trail marking stories of top 100 most famous people in your country. Artists, engineers, poets, politicians, scientists and researchers, doctors, you name it. Their birthplaces, workplaces, other important life places, events, and stories. Creating such trail will be challenging, yet the value – enormous. There is one created in my country – Lithuania. And my geocaching team loves it.

The educational value of such trail is almost unmatched.


  1. The chemical elements trail

The table of periodic elements consists of vast knowledge about the “building blocks” that nature uses to create everything around us. A great trail would explain each element or their groups,  properties, uses and benefits. I.e. what is the difference between magnesium, iron, and silver, why aluminum used to cost as much as silver in medieval times. Why are carbon and oxygen crucial for most forms of life.


  1. Around the country – contours & country facts.

A trail that encompasses the entire country following its borders. Latvia did this couple of year ago. Each geocache on the trail may hold a fact, a story, a riddle or a poem dedicated to the country, it’s people, culture, and history.

Geocaching - Latvia's borders
Latvian geocachers took the effort to places caches along the country’s borders.

  1. Greek myths and stories

Most of us read Greek myth of Argonauts – fearless travelers searching for the golden fleece. An educational trail on greek mythology, it’s creatures and way of life would be very interesting to visit. And maybe you will meet a nymph or two on the way.


  1. Manufacturing: How is it made?

I remember passing Newport News in Virginia, USA. There was a military submarine pulled ashore for repairs. It was HUGE. I would love to see a trail that would lead past observable industry/manufacturing complexes and explain the processes & production. How do raw materials are transformed into goods, etc?


  1. Flags of all nations

There are 195 countries in the world (Y2017). All of them are different and unique in their own way. A trail picturing their flags and short descriptions might have great educational value. Containers could be country-themed. Creating such trail will not be easy, but totally worth it.


  1. Lone shipwreck survivor

There is a number of books of shipwreck survivors. Most notable of them is Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. What about a fantasy trail describing challenges and hardships of such survivor. A seaside, secluded beach or a river bank would fit perfectly for a survivor trail.


  1. Distant shores

Have you ever stood on the shores of an ocean or a sea and wondered what’s on the other side? I.e. a Portuguese geocacher might hide multiple caches describing their thoughts on distant shores – American, African countries, etc. It would double nicely as an educational trail.


  1. Discover the earth science

Our beautiful planet is a little bit aged. In 4 543 000 000 years of existence layers upon layers formed. There is an entire branch of science researching this. Such a trail could also explain how oil, coal and other fossil fuels developed.

Geocaching - earth cache
GC55G11 – Earth cache describing the formation of Earth layers.

  1. Rocks, stones, minerals and other local resources trail

Which rock tastes good? There is only one – salt. Some of the rocks and stones, like diamonds, can cost a lot, some are nice and shiny. Some – very useful in industry applications, building constructions or creating fertilizers. A trail describing local resources might be interesting to follow.


  1. Animals, insects, critters, nature protection

We found an informational stand describing the numbers of creatures in our country. Some of the species are going extinct, some are thriving, yet they are considered as invasive and damaging to the ecosystem. There are multiple ways to help the wildlife. Such a trail could highlight such efforts.

Geocaching - beetles in the bottle
We found these beetles enjoying trash bottle. It is unclear if their are stuck or just enjoying the warmth and protection from birds.

  1. Get to know the trees

Oak, pine, cedar, maple, ash, fir… Did you know that there are more trees on planet Earth compared to the number of stars in the galaxy? Trees, woods, and forest are essential to life on planet Earth, home and shelter to a countless number of species of birds, insects, animals.  Yet each tree is different. A trail with caches describing each tree type can be a good educational resource.


  1. Circle of life

A trail describing a circle of life, and species dependence on each other. From ants to elephants, from plankton to whales.  And the impact human activities have on the species, their habitat and living conditions. All part of the nature education trails.


  1. Sea creatures

Seas and oceans are full of life. A seaside trail, introducing finders to main types of sea dwellers would be greatly educational and fun to find. It could also educate geocachers about nature and ocean protection, maybe bits of sailing/fishing history as well.


Religious experiences

  1. The pilgrim’s paths

Millions of pilgrims travel each year. Be it Jerusalem, Mecca, Bodh Gaya or any other places of religious pilgrimage. Creating a trail of caches commemorating pilgrim paths might be an interesting idea. I was very surprised not to find a serious trail of caches in Jerusalem.

Geocaching - photo of Jerusalem
Jerusalem – one of the holliest cities in the world. Could not find a single geocaching trail dedicated to religion…

  1. Apparition places of Blessed Virgin Mary.

One of Christianity’s traditions is marking and protecting of places, where Blessed Virgin Mary is said to have appeared. I was very surprised to learn, that in my small country (Lithuania) there are 31 such places. A tiny church or a place of worship is placed in all of them. The religious geocachers will certainly appreciate a worship geo-trail.


 

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Happy Geocaching!

What is GEOCACHING? It’s the most FUN hobby. Here is why!

What is GEOCACHING? It’s the most FUN hobby. Here is why!

What is Geocaching and why?

Geocaching is a FUN outdoor activity. The main goal is to find hidden containers called „geocaches“, „caches“ or „containers“ at specified locations all over the world.

According to Grounspeak, the company behind the game, there are over 3,000,000 active geocachers worldwide and more that 830,000 hidden caches in 180+ countries all around the world.

If you ever wonder how the cashes are dispersed in the world, here are a few maps:

Map of geocaches hidden in the United States of America (USA)
Geocaches in USA. And Canada? Maybe bears ate all the caches up north.

 

Map of geocaches hidden in western Europe
Western Europe. Nicely covered in caches anywhere you would check.

A photo posted on Reddit perfectly describes “What is Geocaching?”

Geocacing as viewed by different people
WHAT IS GEOCACHING? SERIOUSLY!! 😉

To find a hidden cache, people use GPS devices that are fitted on most phones these days. GPS is a Global Positioning System, a position detection system that is enabled by the network of sattelites orbiting Earth. There are quite a few GPS detectors available on the market by various producers. Most mobile phones have a GPS sensor inside.

A regular cache might be a small box, film canister or a lunchbox. In the best case scenario, the container is waterproof and the hideout is well hidden. Inside, one will usualy find a logbook and a pen. Some of the geocaches contain „loot“ or „swag“ – bunch of low value items, like small toys, trinkets, memorabilia, etc. If you are really lucky, there might be some „high value“ items, like travel bugs or geocoins. These are special in-game items highly sought after by the experienced geocachers.

Once a geocacher finds a hide, she or he signs a logbook marking their visit and find.

Few of the reasons I find geocaching to be an amazing hobby:

  • discovering new places & the story behind them
  • seeing familiar spots from another angle
  • providing a the purpose to go to seemingly (at first) random destination
  • discovering little bits of history I‘d have never knew existed.
  • a chance to put in those 6,000 steps a day
  • breathtaking scenery and views
  • finding a travel bug or two
  • spending quality time with family
  • getting the kids off computers and into nature
Geocaching hide and anti-soviet resistance monument in Lithuania
A geocache hiding spot and a monument for the anti-soviet resistance fighters in Lithuania. GC: GC5X9ND

 

Geocache contents and special items

Geocaching game keeps all caches listed on their website geocaching.com . You have to be registered for a basic free account to access the list. Once you log in, you can start searching for hides around the location you are in. Every cache has a set of fixed coordinates, described by longitude and latitude, which looks like N 53° 21.438 E 004° 23.305.

Collection of various geocaching containers
Typical geocaching containers (photo source: cachemania)

A typical geocache is a container for holding a pen, a loogbook and some tradeable items as well. The contents of each cache varies depending on the cache size. In best case scenario, the geocache will be waterproof and protected from the elements. Water from rain, snow or floods will very likely damage any cache if it‘s not thoroughly waterproofed.

Usualy each geocache will have a description and a small hint helping locate the hiding spot once you reach the location. Top quality caches have descriptions in multiple languages and a clear explanation why this spot was chosen. Location might have historical, picturesque, personal or other significance. Premium geocaching members can also assign „Favorite points“ to a cache. A high number of those usually indicate „must finds“ in the area.

Once a geocacher finds a cache, they sign a logbook with their geocaching.com username and a date. This is usualy done to preserve the logbook space. Yet logbook space is unlimited online, and each lucky finder can describe their adventures while hunting for the elusive ones. I have placed a few hides myself and can tell you, that reading those extensive logs can be very entertaining.

Besides a pen and a logbook, there might be additional items in the hide, often refered to as „horde“, „swag“ or „loot“. Finders are allowed to remove an item as long as they replace it with something of similar (or greater) value. After signing the logbook and exchanging items, cache has to be returned to the original hiding spot and masked well.

A geocache‘s „loot“ might contain multiple items. They are usualy not expensive, yet hold some sentimental value to the hider/finder: small toys, coins, personal cards, notes. There might also be items highly sought after: Travel bugs and Geocoins. These two are the trackable items in the game, having their personal number assigned and written on the item. Travel bugs are sometimes called „hitchhikers“ and may have a mission assigned to themtraveling around the world, visiting nature parks or seeing as many cities as possible. A geocachers, after finding such a „treasure“, usualy removes it from a geocache, moves it to another location and places it in another geohide. Travel bugs can also be signed in at the geocaching website to allow tracking their journey throughout the world. Cities usualy have so called „travelbug hotels“, where people can exchange travelbugs.

Geocaching: Travel bug example
A geocaching Travel bug with a tag and a tracking number.

There are few items that are not allowed in a cache, as explained by the game rules.

  • Food: nuts, gum, candies. Animals have a good sense of smell and will get to the cache very fast.
  • Illegal or restricted items: drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, etc.
  • Dangerous items: weapons, knives, ammunition, explosives, etc.
  • Bubbles. Sonny and Sander from PodCacher explains it‘s a fun idea until the container leaks damaging everything inside the container.
  • Anything that melts or decays over time or is easily affected by elements, humidity, etc.

Geocaches sometimes get lost or damaged. A common term for this is „muggled“. People (and maybe animals) that do that are called muggles, a term used in Harry Potter books.

 

Types of Geocaches and the differences

Geocaches differ in various parameters: size, terrain difficulty, accesibility, complexity. All there details affect the effort needed to find a hidden cache and sign a logbook. Some geocaches does not have a logbook and uses different methods for signing. Some of the most popular types of caches are:

  • A Regular one-stage cache requires the player to travel to a specified location and find the cache with or without help from a special „hint“
  • A Multi cache is made of numerous steps that usualy requires quite a bit of moving around, tasks and problem solving before you calculate final coordinates.
  • Virtual caches are no longer supported by the Groundspeak, the company behind the Geocaching game.
  • Earthcaches are a special form of caches dedicated to education on earth science, structure, earth layers and so on.
  • Webcam caches are no longer supported by the Groundspeak, the company behind the Geocaching game.
  • Mystery & puzzle caches require players to solve associated puzzles/task and derive the answers to get location of the hide.

Cache types are also associated with Geocaching events:

Geocaching players organise Event Cache, a social gathering. I‘ve seen multiple events organised by foreign experienced Geocachers moving to another country on vacation, etc.

Cache-In Trash-Out (CITO) Events are organised to help the environment around us, by removing trash, taking care of invasive plant species, removing growth from historical objects, etc.

A Mega Event is a gathering of 500 Geocachers or more.

A Giga Event is a gathering of 5000 Geocachers or more.

Sizes of Geocaches and the differences

When players submit new Geocaches to be registered, they are asked to put in the container size. It can be.

Micro: < 100 ml. Usualy these are very small and fits nicely in urban environments where stealth is required and the size of container matters.

Small: > 100 ml., but < 1000 ml. (1 liter). A decent size of cache, that can hold a comfortable size logbook, pen and a few items.

Regular: 1..20 liters. These are the big ones that can hold many items at once.

Large: Behemoths of the Geocaches. Over 20 liters in size.

Virtual caches: the ones where container is not needed – logged in though a photo-log or a similar method.

A geocoin example. PArt of the geocaching game.
An example of geocoin. You can find geocoins in caches all around the world. There are ten of thousands of them. (photo source: Andy from TravelingType)

 

Difficulty, terrain settings, details of Geocaches

Another important setting of a Geocache is difficulty and terrain seetings. The Geocaching website puts it simply: 1 star in terrain allows a wheelchair user to comfortably pick up a cache, 5 star terrain will most likely need a set of climbing gear or extraordinary effors. 1 star of difficulty is a no brainer, 5 stars will make you sweat alot (at least the ones I found, did).

Cache description provide information on the environment and various details of the geocache.

Conditions: regular conditions and recommendations for cache hunters

  • Scenic view
  • Recommended for kids
  • Takes less than an hour
  • Difficult climbing
  • May require wading
  • May require swimming
  • Available at all times
  • Recommended at night
  • Available during winter
  • Watch for livestock
  • Stealth required
  • Night Cache
  • Park and Grab
  • Abandoned Structure
  • Short hike (less than 1km)
  • Medium hike (1km-10km)
  • Long Hike (+10km)
  • Field Puzzle
  • Significant Hike
  • Seasonal Access
  • Tourist Friendly
  • Front Yard (Private Residence)
  • Teamwork Required

Permissions: special environmental protection conditions

  • Dogs
  • Bicycles
  • Motorcycles
  • Quads
  • Off-road vehicles
  • Snowmobiles
  • Campfires
  • Horses
  • Truck Driver/RV

Equipment: items that are necessary / helpfull in finding the cache

  • Access or parking fee
  • Climbing gear
  • Boat
  • Scuba gear
  • Flashlight required
  • UV Light Required
  • Snowshoes
  • Cross Country Skis
  • Special Tool Required
  • Wireless Beacon
  • Tree Climbing

Hazards: warnings of dangerous conditions to look out for

  • Cliff / falling rocks
  • Hunting
  • Dangerous area
  • Poison plants
  • Thorns
  • Dangerous Animals
  • Ticks
  • Abandoned mines

Geocaching sometimes may be dangerous. You should always be cautious about your environment and the actions you take.

One sad Geocaching story from my country: a group of Czech scout cyclists found a shelter from the stormy weather in an abandoned building when all of a sudden it collapsed on July 25, 2010.

Death place of a geocacher Teoho (Jan Holub)
Geocacher Teoho (Jan Holub) was killed by a collapsing building during a storm, where he and his friends took shelter.

 

Death place of a geocacher Teoho
Cross raised at the death place of geocacher Teoho by his friends and family.

 

Facilities: various useful services nearby

  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Camping available
  • Parking available
  • Public transportation
  • Picnic tables nearby
  • Drinking water nearby
  • Public restrooms nearby
  • Telephone nearby
  • Stroller accessible
  • Fuel Nearby
  • Food Nearby

Logging a geocache

Once a player find a hidden cache, he/she should “log it”, by leaving a written entry in the logbook, unless the cache owner specified another method, like photo-log. As Geoccaching.com log entry field puts it “Share your story with the geocache owner and community. Try not to leave any spoilers!”

Once logging the find, one must select the type of log:

  • Found it: for those skilled and lucky enough. Reading those adventure stories (when there is one) can be entertainment on it’s own.
  • Didn’t find it: for those that were not able to find a cache at given location.
  • Write note: players can leave notes in the logbook without signing a found/not found. Players also might provide additional info on the find. I’ve also seen this widely used to signal attendance for the geocaching events.
  • Needs Archived: caches that are no longer maintained or irrelevant, like the ones placed in very, very bad spots.
  • Needs Maintenance: caches that are in bad shape, found damaged, muggled.

While loging a cache, geocaching players often use keywords in their log, like:

  • TFTC – thanks for the cache. A polite way to thank the cache owner for taking the time and effort to place the cache. Very common entry in the logbooks. Much better if the log comes with a longer description of finder’s adventures and/or a story.
  • BYOP – “Bring Your Own Pen/Pencil”. It usualy means that the cache size is too small to hold a full sized pen/pencil or the original one was lost.
  • DNF: “Did Not Find”. Indication, that the player was not able to locate the cache at given coordinates. A string of „did not finds“ might indicate that the cache was muggled (damaged/removed). It‘s also a sign for a cache owner to replace/restore the container and/or contents.
  • FTF: “First to Find”. An entry marking first finder of a cache after it was hidden. Kind of „badge of honor“ for geocaching addicts.
  • STF: “Second To Find”. A „consolation prize“ for those who did not make it to „First to Find“.
  • SWAG: “Stuff We All Get“. Regular trading items placed within the cache‘s container.
  • TB aka Travel Bug aka Trackable: A tag with a barcode that enables tracking of the item on the geocaching website. Usualy attached to a small item. Can be found in random hides and/or local travel bug „hotels“.
  • TFTH: „Thanks For The Hide“. A polite way to thank the cache owner for taking the time and effort to place the cache.

Geocaching advice, tips & tricks  (add your own in the comments section below)

Read recent cache logs before you go. It can save you time/fuel/energy by avoiding caches that have a string of „did not find“ in the logbook.

To find the „caches – hidden gems“ in the area, look for caches that have favorite points added. These are the points that Premium members can give to a cache. They are limited in number. A cache with a higher number of those usualy point to a „must find“ geocache.

Fully charge your GPS devices and have an extra battery possible. GPS location services drain batteries pretty fast. Murphy law states: „Your battery will die once you are 100 meters away from a geocache you spent hours to get to“.

Carry a spare set of boots / clothes if possible if you‘re geocaching in wet places. It sucks to stop caching due to accidentally getting your feet wet, especially in the cold season.

Make your first hide a special one. I know it‘s temping to create your own caches by taking a lunchbox and sticking it into the roots of some old tree. The problem is – those caches are „dime a dozen“. The same goes for the location – try to find a unique spot. Would you like to spend your afternoon going to this place?

Surgical gloves / hand sanitizer is your friend. Geocaching can get bit dirty at times.

Nano-sized containers can be a pain for beginners. If you are just starting out, better look for regular sized caches as the first ones.

Wet slopes are slippery and dangerous. I learned this the hard way. Wet or snow/ice covered slopes can be very tricky to traverse.

Remember that Geocaching is just a game! Chasing those geocaches can be quite exhausting physically and emotionaly, especially when chasing low quality caches through less than interesting places. If you feel cache fatigue, take a break J

 

Please add your advice in the comment section below. I’ll be happy to update the advice list.