We realize geocaching can seem rather complex and overwhelming, so we’ve put together some information to help guide beginner geocachers through this fun, outdoor activity!
What in the world is geocaching you might ask?
Well, simply put, geocaching is a worldwide game of hide and seek – often with the addition of exchangeable trinkets (making this the ultimate treasure hunting game with a twist!). It uses a global positioning system (GPS) to guide users to different locations using GPS coordinates. Once at the location, adventurers search for ‘caches’ (often small containers). These special finds are often filled with small items (treasures!) and a notebook where you can leave a log of your find.
Why it’s a great activity
Geocaching is a great way to learn more about your surroundings while increasing your directional skills. With many of us living solely in the digital era, these traditional orienteering skills can been left behind. Guelph has over 70km of trails waiting to be navigated and explored!
Geocaching is great for health and fitness! Geocaching can make hiking and walking fun. It gives the opportunity to mix-up your workout and keep being active exciting while encouraging exploring new areas around the city (and searching for new caches!).
It’s a great outdoor family activity. Along with being great for health and fitness, this activity is a great way to get outdoors with children. Adults can help younger children with pinpointing the GPS coordinates, and that’s when the real fun begins! Kiddies have a great time searching high and low for their geocache treasure. Whether it’s looking under rocks, leaves, in playgrounds, under benches or in trees, kids have the opportunity to spend time outdoors and disconnect from the digital world.
What do you need to get started
First off, you’ll need some type of GPS device. Now if you’re a beginner, you likely don’t have a GPS device laying around – but no problem! There are many free (or relatively inexpensive) smartphone apps available for download. We’ve found many great apps, but suggest the “Geocaching®” app by Groundspeak Inc. Its a great, free app that lets you search your surroundings for nearby caches and lets you see the details of each cache (including difficulty level, terrain difficulty and cache size).
Next, we suggest bringing items that will help you once you’ve found your cache. These include a pen/pencil (for signing the cache logbook) and trinket items. Many caches come with trinkets for trade (treasures). This means if you decide to take a trinket, it’s tradition to leave a trinket for the next geocacher. More advanced caches will contain items known as ‘trackables’ which can be recorded online for geocachers to track where their trinkets have traveled around the world.
Although those are the necessities, here are some additional tips to enhance your geocaching adventure:
- If you take something, leave something of equal or greater value. As mentioned above, most geocaches will contain trinkets such as small toys, key chains etc. This adds to the excitement of the search!
- Don’t forget to log your find in the cache logbook. Leave your mark and let others know you’ve found the cache by leaving your signature in the logbook!
- Log your find online & leave a story about your journey! Geocachers from around the globe can keep record of their finds, and leave tips for fellow geocachers. Visit www.geocaching.com to sign up and create your free online logbook to track your finds!
- Be prepared, stay safe and have fun! Proper equipment, such as shoes, carrying a flashlight, caching with a pal and being aware of your surroundings can go a long way to maximizing your geocaching experience!
Where to explore in Guelph
Guelph has a great deal of caches just waiting to be found. They range in size from micro-caches (such as a film cannister) to large-caches (such as a storage bin), and come in varying levels of difficulty. Luckily, for beginners, there are plenty of fun, easy cache options out there to get you started (or at least until you feel comfortable taking on a more complex challenge!). Here’s a look at a few:
- University of Guelph Arboretum: the University of Guelph’s Arboretum is a great place to start your adventure. It offers easy-to-find (1-star difficulty rating) caches and has a relatively mild terrain. Discover the University of Guelph Arboretum map here.
- Speed River Trail (Speedvale Avenue East to Victoria Road North via Riverside Park): This trail, located in the North end of Guelph borders the Speed River and is perfect for beginners. It offers beautiful scenery and easy-to-medium difficulty caches. Discover the Speed River Trail map here.
- Guelph Downtown Trail (Heritage Park continuing North along the Speed River ending at Woodlawn Memorial Park): this is a great trail as it is centrally located and has plenty of geocaches waiting to be found! This is also a great trail to bring the kids along as it is easily accessible and offers mild terrain. Discover the Guelph Downtown Trail map here.
- Guelph Lake Conservation Area: Guelph Lake provides a beautiful backdrop for outdoor enthusiasts, and contain geocaches of varying sizes and difficulty levels. It should be noted however, that the majority of these geocaches are spaced throughout the conservation area, so if you’re taking small children out for the hunt, we may suggest beginning with some of the trails mentioned above.
To be revised:
Getting active is one of the best things you can do to improve your overall health and wellness So, next time you and the family are looking for a fun (and healthy) activity, why not try a little geocaching?