What is geocaching? All you need to know about the popular GPS treasure hunt

Geocaching is a great activity for families (Image credit: Getty Images)

Similar to a traditional treasure hunt, geocaching is a fun outdoor activity that has been brought into the modern world thanks to GPS  (the Global Positioning System.)

It is a fun thing to do whether you like hiking, trail running or simply spending time with the family.

Geocaching was founded around 15 years ago in Oregon, America, when Dave Ulmer recorded the first hidden GPS-located cache.

Now, thanks mainly to Geocaching.com, the outdoor activity has spread worldwide. There are  more than three million caches hidden in 191 countries on all seven continents. They can be found in both urban and rural locations.

Geocachers simply sign up to the site and look for a route to a cache in their own area or somewhere that they are visiting. There are lots of filters to search for different routes so that you pick one to suit the age of your group and fitness levels.

There are easy geocaching walks and more challenging routes and all of them are graded so you can choose one to suit you, your friends or your family.

Children try out geocaching

Geocaching is like a modern day treasure hunt (Image credit: Getty Images)

Geocaching: for hikers and runners

Geocache seekers sign up to the website or app and then, once they have chosen their geocache route, it's simply a case of heading off on foot or by bike to reach its exact location. Route guidance is given so it is suitable for children.

The “treasure” is a cache that is typically a small waterproof container. Inside you will find a logbook with a pen or pencil. 

The geocacher enters the date they found it and signs it with their established code name.  After signing the log, the cache must be placed back exactly where the person found it. 

Many caches also contain small treasures. The general rule is that if a treasure is removed, it must be replaced with something similar. It is therefore a good idea to have small long-life trinkets or toys with you when you go in seat of the cache.

It is also possible to become a geocache “hider”, as well as a “seeker”.


Head off for a geocache hike with the family (Image credit: Getty Images)

Who is geocaching for?

Geocaching is for everyone – and especially families. It’s possible to choose a route to suit all ages and fitness levels.

You can enjoy geocaching year-round and is relatively inexpensive. Some of the features on geocaching.com are free, while there are extra options with various subscription rates.

Fiona Russell
Outdoor writer

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favorite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing (both downhill and backcountry). Aside from her own adventures, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy getting outside and exploring, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.