If you love scavenger hunts and outdoor adventures in Birmingham, geocaching (pronounced geo-cashing) may be just the sport you’ve been waiting to discover.
Keep reading to find out what people love about geocaching and how you can get involved.
1. Geocaching is a giant outdoor scavenger hunt
I reached out to a couple of local geocaching afficionados for the best #protips for the neophytes among us.
According to Scott Fee, aka “Caver Scott,” a local geocaching afficionado,
Geocaching is an outdoor, hi-tech scavenger hunt. We use a GPS or a phone to get us close. Then we have to discover where the actual geocache is hidden. Once we find it, we sign the paper log and put it back just the way we found it.
My brother-in-law Joel Bullock explained some more of the details:
- Containers can be “in the woods, parks or urban areas.”
- After you find a cache, you sign the physical log in the cache (it’s usually a tiny strip of paper) rolled up tightly.
- Next, “you log your find online, sharing your adventure and a TFTC (Thanks For The Cache).”
- At this point, the treasure chest icon in the geocaching app turns into a smiley face and “your find count continues to add up.”
2. There’s a lot to love about geocaching
Here are just a few of the things Joel loves about geocaching:
- I can use my talents to make and hide caches that are creative, unique, and sometimes challenging.
- It takes me to places I’ve never been to or didn’t even know existed.
- It gets me out in nature—on the trail or off.
- It introduces me to the history of a person or place.
- It brings me to strange or unique places.
- It educates me on geological formations and fossils.
- It helps reinforce the idea of being a good steward of the land through what’s called CITO or Cache In Trash Out.
- It exercises my brain though solving puzzles—these help lead you to the cache.
- It helps relive stress!
- Most of all it plugs you into a community of people from all walks of life who share the same hobby/obsession, and fosters friendships that last a lifetime.
That’s a pretty sound endorsement, don’t you think? I’ve tried it a couple of times with a friend and my kids, and we all had a great time.
FYI, I did ask Joel if he had any favorite caches, but he pled the fifth. Meaning, why give away a treasure you have to hunt for to someone who hasn’t done the work 🤪.
3. Oak Mountain is a local favorite spot for geoaching
Oak Mountain State Park is home to more than 300 caches. Joel says Caver Scott has a “Belly of the Beast” series that leads you through “drainage tunnels that get progressively more difficult as you go along.”
Turns out Oak Mountain State Park is also a really popular place among our Bham Now followers. In addition to geocaching, here are some of the other fun things you can do while you’re there:
- Check out the Alabama Wildlife Center.
- It’s a great place for stargazing. Check out the Birmingham Astronomical Society of Alabama’s monthly public star parties.
- Go mountain biking or check out a mountain bike race.
- My kids were huge fans of the inflatable water park this past summer.
- By March 2020, you should be able to check out Oak Mountain Brewing Company.
5. Here’s how to get started with geocaching in Birmingham
Here are Joel’s #protips for getting involved:
Get your tech tools ready
- Download the free geocaching app.
- Sign up on on geocaching.com.
- Create an account before using the app.You can make up your very own caching name.
- Start looking for caches nearby.
- If you love it, sign up for a premium membership which offers a lot more options.
- OR, check out Cachly. This is iOS only, but serious cachers love it.
- Some people use a handheld GPS to hunt geocaches, or that plus a phone if it’s a long hunt.
Become a part of the geocaching community
Apparently it’s easy to get plugged into Birmingham’s very active caching community:
- Go to meal events with opportunities to cache with others afterwards—either around town or at parks like Oak Mountain.
- Birmingham Area Cachers on Facebook is a great place to find out about events, ask questions and find out about new caches.
- Alabama Geocachers Association covers local and regional interests.
- Outside of Birmingham, check out these groups, too: