Finding a Geocache
Success, Safety, and Fun!
Our First
Find a Good Cache
You need to start with a destination. Use the geocaching Seek page to locate a cache. If you'll be traveling on vacation, you might want to set the waypoints in your GPS device before you leave. Be sure to take your printed directions too. You can often find two or more caches in the same area in one day. Also consider whether you want an easy or more difficult hike. What kind of destination do you prefer. an ocean view or a mountain waterfall?
We always take our topographical map and use it to get in the general area. Remember that distances can be deceiving particularly in the mountains. Use the GPS coordinates once you get close. Be sure to mark a waypoint before you leave your car, so you can always find your way back! Once you're hot on the geocaching trail ,you won't remember the route you took into the woods.
Go with a Friend

There are many reasons to hunt with a friend including fun, collaboration, sharing, and safety. First, finding a geocache is more fun when you have a friend to share your enthusiasm. You're also more likely to be successful if you collaborate on finding the cache. In our case, Annette uses the GPS device to find the location while Larry begins to search for the cache visually. When you find the cache, it's fun to share the loot and discuss the log and treasures. Finally, it's good practice to always hike with a buddy. Some of the geocaches are in remote areas. In some cases, you must hike over rough terrain. You don't want to be stuck in the middle of nowhere without help. Remember the geocaches aren't usually in heavily traveled areas!

Be Prepared

Like any hiking experience, you should be prepared. Dress for the trip by including a jacket and hat in both cold and hot weather. In the desert you need to cover your hat and arms for sun protection. In the mountains you might need warmth from a sudden storm. In addition, a backpack with water, snacks, and basic first aid is a must.
Consider taking a camera so you can record your find! Most caches have a treasure and log book, but some are virtual caches. For these, a photo will be the only "proof" you've been there.
It's also fun to take a picnic lunch along to enjoy the scenery.
Don't Give Up
When reading the geocache logs, we noticed that some people were successful and some people are not. Why? It may have to do with persistence. When you reach the general location, you may find the cache easily. If not, check the following:
  • Double check the coordinates on your GPS.
  • Read the printout from the website. Have you missed any clues?
  • Read the logs other people have entered. Do they help?
  • Think like the cache creator. If you brought a cache to this location, where would you hide it?
  • Look for tracks and disturbed ground. Can you see where other people have been recently?
If you still can't find it, think different.
  • Could it be on the other side of the trail?
  • Can you look at the area from a different perspective or angle? Look up or look down from where you're standing. Come from different directions.
  • Work your way out in all directions from the charted location.
  • Next time, bring friends to make the search easier.
Occasionally a cache is stolen or moved, so there's a small chance that you'll be out of luck. If you can't find the cache be sure to put that on the website log so the owner can check on it.
Log Your Find
When you open the cache, be sure to read the log and add an entry. Sometimes the founder has specific requests. For example, they might request a weather report, your hometown, or a joke. Many people add comments about the choice of the site, the weather, and the contents of the cache. Many caches contain a camera, so be sure to locate it and take a picture.
Many caches ask you to take a treasure and leave a treasure. Remember that the treasure will be stored for a long time so avoid items that might spoil such as food, things that might melt, or things that could be dangerous or illegal such as ammo. Items such as CDs, small books, toys, hotwheels, balls, key chains, small artwork, hiking gear, and generally goofy things make the cache more interesting. Keep it small. Some people have theme caches such as rocks or music. This is usually in the description of the cache found at the website.
When you arrive home, go to the geocaching website immediately to log your experience. We find that even after a few days you forget details.
If you think other information or coordinates might be useful to the next hiker, you might also include those in the log. You can even encrypt the note if you don't want to give too much away.
Hide the Cache
Before you leave, be sure to replace the cache where you found it. Replace items in their ziplock bags. The lid of the container should be closed tightly.
Return the cache to a safe place and cover it with the same materials used by the last hunter such as rocks, branches or other camouflage.
For more information about geocaching, check out Geocaching's
Guide to Finding a Cache page.
Our First

Created by
Annette Lamb and Larry Johnson, 07/01.