Guide: Hiding A Geocache

The main idea of geocaching is to go out and find caches. But someone has to hide them too, right?

Anyone can place their own hide. This is a great way to showcase locations you want others to dicover. And it’s great fun reading logs and getting comments on your carefully planned hide, and hear about the adventures of those who have attempted to log.

How to hide a cache?

Hiding a cache is in itself very easy:

  1. Place a container at your chosen location.
  2. Fill out the form on geocaching.com. Click “Hide & Seek A Cache” and then click “Online Form” in the middle of the text on the right half of the screen. Or click here for a direct link.
  3. Send the form and wait while your cache is being approved. This can take from a few hours to several days. Then you’re done!
Hiding a good cache

Making your cache a really good one, though, takes more time. It requires careful planning. Here are some questions to ask yourself before placing the hide:

  • Is the spot worth visiting? Choose a location that is beautiful, of historical value or is a physical or psychological challenge to reach.
  • What is required in order to get to the cache? The location is not everything – you have to get there, too! Often, it’s even the journey itself that is most important. A beautiful walk, climbing over a mountain, or why not a trip across water?
  • Is the cache properly hidden? A good standard hide should not be easily stumbled upon by anyone not aware of the hobby, but not too hard to find for those who look for it.
  • Is the description complete? On geocaching.com, you can write as much or as litte about your cache and the location as you wish. Normally, you’d include facts of the place and some general info about the actual container and hiding spot. What type of container is it, for example? At the same time, don’t reveal too much! Let the visitor discover some things for herself.
  • Is the cache creative? Being creative is not a demand, but such caches are ofte more fun. An odd hide, an unusual place or perhaps an unusual or fun task or challenge that has to be solved to get to the cache.

Finally, the best way to place a good hide is to first gain experience. Find enough caches on your own to learn what works and what doesn’t. How have others done it? A rule of thumb is to have found at least 10-20 caches before hiding your own, preferably a lot more than that.

Tips regarding coordinates

A common beginners’ mistake is that the coordinates are bad. When hiding a cache, it’s important to make sure that the coordinates aren’t too far off. Here are some tips to ensure the greatest accuracy possible:

  • Check the reception. In the woods, between tall buildings, close to cliffs, etc. the GPS reception can be bad, since the GPS is having troubles finding the satellites. Therefore, it can be a good idea to choose the location based on where the sky is clear and reception is good. On most GPS devices you can see the acurracy and how large the error margin might be. The lower the better! 5 meters as a general rule. A bad reception should not, however, be a reason to skip an otherwise very good and interesting location.
  • Perform averaging. To get a better, more precise location, many GPS devices support so called “averaging”. This means that the GPS makes several continuous measurements, finding the average coordinates. Check your GPS manual for more information.
  • Use the correct coordinate system. There are many different coordinate systems and using the wrong one will give other cachers a location that is way off. Within geocaching on geocaching.com, the system used is called WGS84. This is also the standard system in most GPS devices.
  • Re-check the numbers. It’s easy to type a number wrong when registering a cache. Double check the numbers again, and then once more, to make sure a human error is not made.
  • Re-visit the location. Wait a day or two and go back to the hide during different weather conditions or at another time of the day. This way you can make sure that the coordinates are valid and see how far off other visitors might end up.

Finally, it’s important to point out that no coordinates are ever 100% accurate. Even under the best of circumstances, you will be a few meters off.

A few words about difficulty levels

When placing a cache, you have to take a standpoint in how challenging the cache is, something which can be tricky since it’s a matter of personal opinion. The judgement is made on a scale of 1 (very easy) to 5 (very hard) in two categories: difficulty and terrain.

Difficulty refers to how hard it is to find the cahce when at the location. Is it well hidden? Do you have to search for a long time or should any geocacher be able to find it easily? To this category, any riddles and tasks rquired to solve to obtain the final coordinates are also included.

The terrain rating hints at how hard it is to get to the actual location of the container. Are there paved roads all the way? Is it wheelchair accessible? Is there a long hike? Does it require climbing? To get a five, special gear such as a boat, climbing gear, scuba gear or the likes must be required.

Protecting a cache from muggles

Muggles, meaning people who don’t know about geocaching, are a constant threat to any geocache. If a passerby accidentally finds a cache it is often removed by mistake or thought to be trash.

The most simple ways to avoid this is to hide your cache away from crowds or to hide it well enough for some thorough searching to be required. Additionally, consider placing a note in the container describing why it’s there and what geocaching is.

What do the rules say?

And finally, it’s important to point out that there are some rules as to how and where caches may be hidden. These are some of the most imporant points to keep in mind:

  • A cache may never be hidden on private property without consent or where it may disturb other people.
  • A cache may never be hidden in places that require an entrance fee to be paid. Parking fees are an exception.
  • A cache may never be hidden so that nature must be destroyed or damaged in the search.
  • A cache may never be burried. It may, however, be covered by for example rocks and twigs.
  • A cache may never contain food since the scent may attract animals.
  • A cache may never contain poisonous substances, weapons or other objects that may be harmful to humans and animals.

Local and national variations may occur. For example, in Sweden and Ireland all forrests and open land is considered public and do not require the concent of the land owner, while in the US and most European countries permission might be required even in national parks. Read the guide on geocaching.com for more information on rules and regulations.

Ready to hide a cache? Click here! Good luck with your future hides 😀

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