Select Page

Geocaching – What Is It & How Does It Work?


Many hikers have heard the term “Geocaching”, but they (or you) may not know yet what it is or how it works. Therefore, we have put together some basic info to hopefully pique your interest and to help you get started.


What Is Geocaching?


Geocaching is a geographical treasure hunt. It is a combination of hiking and the use of a high tech device, such as a cell phone &/or GPS.

It can be played by adults and kids. Think of it as a sport or hobby that can be enjoyed alone or with family and friends.


What Are Geocaches?


Geocache Water Proof Container

Geocaches are generally found in waterproof containers of various sizes. Inside of most of these containers

small trinkets. Your “job” is to find them!


How Do You Locate Geocaches?


You can join a website that will ask you to put in a zip code near your home or the zip code of an area where you will be hiking.

Below are 2 websites that will give you the basic location of known geocaches in the area of the zip code you provided. They are:

Once you are signed up and have chosen the area where you will be hiking, the website will let you download the information you will need, such as, the latitude and longitude, for where to start looking for the “treasure”.

If you need a little assistance, the website can also give you clues to help you locate the geocache.


How Are They Rated?


Every geocache has a rating based on how easy or how hard it is to find. The ratings range from 1 – 5.

A rating of “1” is the easiest to find because they are not that well hidden.

A rating of “5 “ is the hardest to find because they are so well hidden.


Where Will They Be Hidden?


They can be hidden almost anywhere, such as the inside of hollow trees, tall grass, on top of something, under something or even underwater.

However, geocaches are not allowed to be buried.


Hollow Tree Geocache

This Hollow Tree Is A Great Hiding Place for A Geocache


What Info Is Provided To Help You Find The Geocache?


Every geocache is assigned GPS coordinates which will be within 20 – 50 feet of the geocache’s location.

You can use the extra clues, provided by the website, to help you find the actual container.


Geocaching Steps


If you have a GPS, you can get started immediately using these steps:

  1. Two popular geocaching websites are: or
  1. After you sign up, put in the zip code for the area you want to search for a geocache in. There may be multiple geocaches in the area you chose to search.
  1. Once you choose the one you want to find, print out the info which will include the latitude and longitude coordinates. You can also print out any clues offered by the website to help you find the container.
  1. You can create a waypoint in your GPS for the latitude and longitude coordinates that were provided by the website.
  1. Next, you need to activate the “Go To” feature on your GPS. This will put an arrow on your screen. This arrow will point you in the direction of where to locate the geocache.
  1. Continue to use the arrow to take you to the general area of where the geocache is located. Then, you can use the clues you printed out to find the actual container.
  1. Once you find it, sign the logbook.
  1. If you decide to take anything from the container, you will need to replace that item(s) with something of equal or greater value.
  1. You can go back to the website to log your experience with geocaching.


Final Thoughts


There are over a million active geocaches all over the world!

Check out the websites we provided above to start geocaching today!



To read another related article from The Joy of Hiking, please click the link below.