Geocaching at Crow’s Nest

February 21, 2012

This weekend Owen and I located the third of three geocaches hidden at Crow’s Nest Preserve. There was some confusion on the three-year old’s part at first: “Johnny Cash?” (his favorite musician) but he soon caught on.

Geocaches are small containers hidden in the landscape that people try to located with a GPS-enabled device. This could be a Global Positioning System unit or a GPS-enabled device like most smartphones (purchase of an additional app may be required).

First you go online to geocaching.com to select a region where you would like to search. Create an account (it’s free) to access more of the website’s features. Then download the latitude and longitude points; there may also be some additional remarks or hints available. Many people enjoy the excuse to get out and walk, or visit new places. There is a code of conduct to follow when geocaching.

When you find the little box you find a visitors’ log inside, typically along with some trinkets. If you bring one to put in you may take one with you; some trinkets are actually tracked as they travel around the world in and out of geocache containers. You can then report back on the geocaching website that you found the cache and comment on your trip.

When the activity first became popular a few years ago we at Natural Lands Trust were not sure we wanted it going on at our preserves—after all, protection of the natural resources here comes first. We didn’t want people trampling wildflowers, for example, in search of a tiny box. But we also want people to enjoy our lands, and this can be one more way to do that. We have since developed our own guidelines for placement of geocaches on our preserves and are monitoring their use. We require that placement follows the geocaching.com rules and have added a few that go beyond theirs.

We require that they be placed near trails for example, and not near streams, and 1/4 mile apart from other geocaches. I don’t think I’m giving too much away to add that we have more trails here than are shown on our trail map. I think that one of the geocaches here is easy to find, one medium, and one difficult—but that was just my experience. The hardest one I found when I returned a second time at a different time of day when the sunlight was different. And this is was in the winter without leaves on the shrubs and wildflowers!

I’m pleased with the geocaches here. We ask that visitors follow “Leave No Trace” principles when visiting our preserves and it appears that so far everyone does. If you are considering placing a geocache on a Natural Lands preserve contact us and we’ll provide you with a copy of our guidelines.

There is also waymarking.com where there is no actual cache to find—just a point of interest. I found the Crow’s Nest Preserve entrance sign is posted here, for example, along with a lot of places of historical value in this region.

So, get out there and enjoy!