Looking for a fun activity to keep the kids occupied on a nice day without spending a ton of money? Try geocaching—an outdoor activity that’s like an old-fashioned scavenger hunt, except with GPS. The game involves finding a hidden item (aka hidden treasure, as far as the kids are concerned).

How It Works

What’s the purpose of geocaching? To find something called a cache, which is a disguised container that can be found by using the GPS coordinates on your phone. Items could be a fake log or animal or even a bird house. Sort of like a treasure hunt, the items are not always easily found so searching is always required.

Getting Started

To start your adventure, simply download the official app, Geocaching, and create a free profile or sign in with Facebook. Once you’re registered, you will see all the active geocache locations in your area. From there, you can choose the location of the geocache you want to find and the app will open a map that will help lead you to it. Keep in mind that the map will lead you to the area, but the geocache might not always be directly in front of you. The app gives slight clues to help you out along your search. However, many items are carefully hidden and often blend into their surroundings, so make sure to read the hint that has been given!

For each location, the app gives you a difficulty level, terrain level and geocache size range for the spot. Remember that the geocaches always vary—as each one has a different size, shape and difficulty. Once found, the geocache should contain a list of people that have found that specific geocache before you and the date on which they found it. Sign and date the logbook and re-hide the geocache exactly where you found it.

The Rules

Geocaching also involves a few simple rules. Make sure if you trade for items found inside the geocache it is for something that is of equal or greater value. If you take a trinket, always leave a trinket in return. Also, do not take the geocache or move it to a different spot.

Tips for Newbies

Never tried geocaching? Here’s what to know before you embark on your first mission.

  • Start out with a low-level difficulty geocache and a low-level difficulty terrain.

  • Check the recent logs of the geocache locations to see if the “treasure” is still there.

  • Bring a pen! You’ll want to sign and date the logbook in each geocache.

  • Once you’ve found the item make sure it’s not noticeable to passersbys, as they might move or take the cache.

  • Don’t forget: Never expose the hiding spot to others. Searching for it is half the fun!

  • Go online and log your geocache experience for each location to keep others updated!

Some NJ Locations

Washington Crossing State Park, Titusville. There is a special event planned for May 9.

East Jersey Old Town Village and the Cornelius Low House, Piscataway. The regional Metro Gathering MEGA Event takes place at East Jersey Old Town on June 17.  This free event attracts geocachers from all over the world and is a great place to learn about geocaching.

Tourne Park, Denville. Tourne Park is one of New Jersey’s gems, 546.9 acres of parkland that includes a wildflower trail with nearly 250 species of native plants. There’s a cache called Needfull Things that is good for beginners.

Linden. This cache is located on a street that runs along the GM Assembly Plant.

Plainsboro Preserve, Cranbury. There are some caches here that are easily accessible, and others that are off trail.

Washington Rock Park, Green Brook. Central Jersey – North requires some navigating off trail because of loose rocks and a steep grade.

Ramapo Valley County Reservation, Bergen County. The park has five loop trails that include panoramic views, a pond, a reservoir and a waterfall. The cache is about a one-mile hike from the trailhead along the blue trail.

There are over 2 million caches in the world. How many will you find?

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