An activity that combines the ancient drive to find hidden treasure with the modern desire to hold, at all times, some piece of digital technology (preferably with a screen)—that’s the pull of geocaching, a sport that became a kind of instant classic upon its dawning at the turn of the millennium. Already about 400,000 caches are stashed around the planet, with about 8,600 in Michigan.
How it works
- Buy a handheld Global Positioning System (GPS) device.
- Go to geocaching.com and locate the GPS coordinates to find the coordinates for one of the caches that other geocachers have hidden in Michigan.
- Find the cache, then add your name to the list at the cache to prove you’ve been there.
What you’ll find
The caches hold no real “treasure” in a monetary sense, explains Ken Rens, who along with wife Peggy and their Jack Russell terrier, Cricket, make up Michigan’s No. 1 geocache team—they’ve found about 5,500 caches thus far. The treasure is the joy of the hunt and especially seeing the beautiful places (a splendid overlook, a gushing waterfall) or natural oddity (a curiously shaped tree, a bog) along the way. Surprises do, however, sometimes wait in the cache itself—a spring-loaded snake, a toy frog that croaks.
Another reason to like geocaching: The activity has cross-generational appeal—so you might actually convince your children to go into nature with you. If there is a shared characteristic among geocachers, it’s a whiff of the techno-nerd, and many kids qualify.
Some Favorite Caching Locales of the GPS-erati:
We asked Donna Scramling and her husband, Gary, officers of the Michigan Geocaching Organization, to share a few hot spots.
- Mackinac Island: “There’s probably 55 caches up there. And you’d see places on the island you’d never know were there—off the beaten track.”
- Manistee National Forest: “Many outstanding geocaching experiences.”
- Udell firetower: The only fire tower left standing in lower Michigan.
- U.P. in October. “Wow, now there’s a place to go caching. So many waterfalls.”