Geocaching: A Quick Guide to Modern Treasure Hunting

Geocaching is an exciting reason to go out and explore new areas.

Next time you're hiking a nature trail or walking in a city park, you may want to keep an eye out for hidden treasure. You might, unknowingly, walk past certain GPS coordinates that are keeping a secret.

The act of hiding items for others to find via GPS has been around since the year 2000 when GPSs received an upgrade that allowed for pinpoint accuracy. A few GPS enthusiasts wanted to test the new accuracy, so items were hidden and the coordinates were shared online for others to find. This gave birth to geocaching.

Geocaching brings a fun twist to exploring neighborhoods, parks and the great outdoors. It works best by using a dedicated mobile app, such as Geocaching, to find the many locations marked by other enthusiasts. Most geocaches are typically stored in an old ammo box or a weatherproof container large enough to hold items for trade. Once you find the geocache, your responsibility is to sign and date the logbook and leave something new behind if it's a traditional trading geocache. Some geocaches don't hold any items but they could be a puzzle to solve in order for the logbook to reveal itself. Most of the geocache treasures left behind are of sentimental value, not monetary.

Geocaches vary in their difficulty and size—a few even require scuba gear or a kayak to reach the GPS coordinates. Some are small enough to be considered a nano cache because they are no larger than the tip of your finger. There are even USB caches that require a USB-reading device to access the text file.

If you plan on participating in the geocaching craze, be sure to read the guidelines of the company whose app you choose to use. Each one has its own individual rules and ethics to consider before you engage in the thrill of the modern day treasure hunt.