If you're not familiar with geocaching, it's basically a new type of treasure hunt that's as suitable for grown-ups as for children. Over the last few years, its become an increasingly popular type of recreational activity, with more and more of us using it as an excuse to get out of the house and into nature. Some caches are left by private individuals, whereas others are organized by professional organizations. Either way, it's a ton of fun and something that if you haven't tried already, is something to get on the agenda sooner than later. If you live in Ohio, these are the top five places to check out.
1. Hocking Hills
According to innatcedarfalls.com, Hocking Hills is the perfect place to enjoy some geocaching in Ohio. Finding the caches is exciting enough in itself, but the scenery you'll see along the way is equally enticing. Expect to pass by rugged gorges, mysterious caves, expansive meadows, various types of wildlife, and more breathtaking views than you can shake a stick at. There are 300 caches scattered around the area in total, all of which are located at various adventure attractions. Typical treasures include decorative buttons, children's toys and trinkets, books, coins, and more besides. The Hocking Hills Adventure GeoTrail is particularly exciting. Created by the Hocking Hills Tourism Association, the trail consist of 10 caches scattered around three uniquely themed trails. Each cache has a number and a keyword that can be added to your GeoTrail passport (stop by the Hocking Hills Welcome Center to pick this up). Fill in the keywords correctly and you stand to win a prize. If you want to get a heads up about where to concentrate your search, visit Geocaching.com in advance for some clues and coordinates that will help you track down the treasures. The first one hundred lucky geocachers who successfully complete the train will be rewarded for their efforts with a trackable geocoin. Bring your sense of adventure, some snacks and drinks to keep your energy up along the way, and most importantly of all, a camera - with scenery like this, you're going to need it.
2. Alum Creek Greenway Trail
The Alum Creek Greenway Trail stretches almost 25 miles through Three Creeks Metro Park, connecting Westerville on the one side with Groveport on the other. Although it crosses various suburban centers (including Columbus), its proximity to the lovely Alum Creek will make sure you stay blissfully unaware of the hustle and bustle of the surrounding neighborhoods. There are numerous geocaches to be found along the way (pop by Geocaching.com for coordinates) but as much as the trail is about finding treasures, it's also about simply soaking up the sights and sounds of the natural beauty around you. If you get peckish, pick up some snacks on the first 7 miles of the route, which passes through numerous shopping and dining centers. Be sure to keep an eye out for the lovely double arc bridge you'll pass on the way through Strawberry Farms Park during that section too. Once you've passed through Bexley, take some time to rest and relax in the Three Creeks Park, which offers multiple opportunities for boating, picnicking, and other pastimes. As you pass along the way, watch out for the many plaques and bridges you'll pass that offer lovely nuggets of information about the history of the area and important Ohio figures like bike racer Marshall “Major” Taylor and Erie Trail project founder Ed Honton.
As onlyinyourstate.com says, while you might not get the usual side helping of nature you'd get with geocaching in Columbus, you will get an almost guaranteed chance to find a few caches - according to ColumbusAlive.com, the city boasts a whopping 2000 caches. One of the best areas to concentrate on is the Metro Parks, which offers two excellent ways for you to enjoy a geocaching adventure. The first is Tour Columbus Metro Parks, an all-year-round venture that's an incredibly fun experience that all the family can enjoy. There are ten caches, each of which is located at a different park. All of the caches are on trails that are suitable for beginners, making it an ideal opportunity to get the kids away from their screens and outside. If you manage to find all ten caches, simply log your loot on geocoaching.com to reveal the coordinates for the eleventh, bonus cache and to receive your Metro Parks Path Tag reward. The caches are changed annually, so don't worry if you complete the entire hunt, there'll be more to find next year. The other option to try is GeoTrail, an annual geocaching event that invites participants to team up and hunt down a variety of cache types, with varying degrees of difficulty involved in finding each one. The first 100 teams to track down 15 GeoTrail caches will receive a special edition Metro Parks Geocoin. If you manage to find all 19 caches, you'll unlock the coordinate to the special bonus cache.
4. Cleveland Metroparks
Cleveland Metroparks makes a top choice for geocache enthusiasts for two reasons. For a start, there are all the caches that private individuals have buried throughout the parks. On top of that, the park organization also hides numerous caches around the parks each year, resulting in a double amount of fun for treasure hunters. To make things difficult, the park changes the names and locations of the caches each year... just to keep you on your toes. The parks themselves are wonderfully scenic, with plenty of opportunities for relaxation, hiking, picnicking, and even fishing. Pack a lunch and prepare for a full day of adventure.
5. Burr Oak Hiking Trail Series
Located in Grindstone Park south of Grindstone Creek, Burr Oak Hiking Trail Series is an excellent place for geocachers to get their fix of nature and buried treasure. The terrain is a little hilly, but shouldn't be too much of a challenge for those with a moderate amount of fitness. There are 50 caches scattered along the route in total, with many buried quite close together. As geocaching.com notes, the main cache is buried near an old, big Burr Oak tree. What makes it especially intriguing (aside from the loot buried underground) are the remains of an ancient homestead that marks the spot. The cache itself is full of trinkets that kids are sure to enjoy - just be sure to replace anything they can't resist taking home with them!
Written by Dana Hanson
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