Geocaching is one of the fastest growing pastimes in the world. There are nearly 2.5 million geocaches active worldwide and over a million of them have been published in the past year and a half. Geocaching is a fun, family oriented sport that can bring participants to special places that they may never have discovered without geocaching. Secluded waterfalls, historic sites, oddities, pretty views, nice hikes and more.
Many people who hunt for geocaches soon want to hide one of their own. Here is a quick guide to hiding a great geocache that will bring the joys of geocaching to others.
Find some first
Find a few geocaches before trying to hide one. It’s not necessary, but it’s a good idea. Try to find a variety of cache types, sizes, terrain, difficulty and locations. This will allow you to determine which things work and which don’t. You’ll learn more finding 10 caches of 10 different types than 100 caches of a similar type. Experience is the best teacher.
Find a good location
A quality geocache will be hidden near places of natural, historic or scenic interest, near oddities and other unusual locations, or at least at the end of a pleasant walk. Place it somewhere that most people would enjoy visiting even if the cache wasn’t there.
Set your sights above the mundane and avoid strip malls, guardrails and shopping center parking lots, there are plenty of those geocaches out there already. Make sure searchers get more than just a “plus one” out of your cache.
If the only reason you are bringing geocachers to your chosen location is the geocache, then consider a better spot.
Be sure geocaches are allowed
If it is private property always obtain permission from the land owner. Some park systems do not regulate geocaching, but some require permits, or permission and some do not allow geocaching at all. So check with park management to make sure geocaching is allowed and obtain a permit or permission if required.
Choose an appropriate container
Geocache containers should be waterproof and durable. Military surplus ammo boxes, waterproof match containers and Lock-n-Locks are favored by many geocachers. Also make sure the container is appropriate for the area. A military style ammo box or a container using metal or PVC pipes may create alarm in a high traffic area if accidentally discovered. The busier the area, the smaller your cache should be is a good general rule.
The key is watertight, durable containers. Avoid candy tins, coffee cans, film canisters, prescription pill bottles, Hide-a-keys, Gladware type containers and similar flimsy or non water-tight containers unless your cache location is protected from the elements. Choosing a poor container can become a cache maintenance nightmare.
Camoflage your container
This is optional but a good idea, as you don’t want non geocachers stumbling upon your cache. Painting it in colors to match the area, or wrapping it in camouflage duct tape are two of a number of ways that will help conceal it. Other methods include gluing bark to the container or hiding it inside fake rocks and tree stumps.
You can be as creative as you like, but please do not drive nails or screws into trees, drill holes, dig holes, use graffiti or otherwise damage or deface the location where you are hiding your cache. Geocaching is only allowed by the good graces of land owners and managers and practices such as these can, and have caused geocaching to be banned by some park systems
Label the outside
In today’s world, suspicious packages can create alarm. Clearly labeling your container as a geocache and with contact information may help reduce the chances of your cache being reported as suspicious package.
Poor placement choices have resulted in police and bomb squad response. Clearly labeling your container may reduce the possibility of that happening.
Stock your cache
Include a note explaining what it is, in the event a non geocacher finds it. Also include a logbook (some listing websites require this) and if there is room enough, a pencil, and trinkets for finders to trade.
Geocachers with young children tend to prefer caches with a “treasure” to keep the kids interested and even many veteran geocachers enjoy pawing through cache trinkets, so if you can hide a cache large enough to hold trade items please do.
If you are adding trade items, stock it with inexpensive, useful items. Don’t empty your junk drawer into the cache. If it’s trash, don’t put it in a cache. Same goes for finders.
Hide your cache
Your cache is more likely to last if you choose a low traffic area where it is not likely to accidentally be discovered and where searchers won’t be spotted by passersby, business owners, security guards or residents.
Conceal it so that non geocachers won’t easily see it. Limit disturbances to the surrounding area and try to make your hide as natural looking as possible. A big pile of sticks or rocks, rather than hiding your cache, invites curious passersby to investigate it.
You can make your cache as easy or as difficult for geocachers to find as you like, however if you choose to make it hard to find, please select an area with a durable surface. You don’t want cachers tearing apart the woods to find your cache.
Use your GPS to obtain coordinates
Make sure you have a good satellite signal, then let your GPS settle at the cache site for a minute or two before marking. Check your owners’ manual for the section on how to mark a waypoint if you don’t know how. Avoid using Google Earth and smart phones, as they can be inaccurate.
Post your geocache site online
You need to post it on a website so other geocachers can obtain the coordinates. The most popular listing service by far is www.geocaching.com. Other listing sites include www.navicache.com, www.terracaching.com, www.opecaching.com and www.opencaching.us.
Also make certain your geocache complies with the listing guidelines of website you are listing it on. Check the website for their posted guidelines or recommendations.
Maintain your cache
Be ready to respond promptly to reported problems such as damaged or missing containers and wet or full logbooks. If you encounter verifiable false logs on your cache feel free to delete them. If you lose interest, please remove your cache and archive the listing.
And above all, have fun. Cache ownership can be rewarding, as you are spending your efforts to provide recreation for others.
And if you find a cache keep that in mind and let the cache owners know you enjoyed your experience. Give them a little more than a simple “found it”or “TFTC”. They spent the time, effort and money to hide the cache for your enjoyment so a sentence or two about your experience (or more if you feel inclined) is a great way to say “thank you”.