Hide & Seek Guidelines
Written by Michigan Geocaching Organization   
Thursday, 15 May 2008
Guidelines for HIDING Geocaches
  • Use common sense when choosing a hiding spot for your cache. Try to avoid sending finders into or through areas that might be hazardous. Be alert for things like poison ivy, etc., and never place a cache in an ecologically sensitive area which could be damaged by foot traffic.
  • Choose a waterproof container for your cache box. (In addition, it may also be a good idea to put any moisture sensitive items, especially the logbook?into individual ziplock baggies.)
  • Clearly mark the outside of the container with "GEOCACHE", or some other easily recognizable identification. This is especially important if the cache container is non-transparent and/or has an appearance that could be mistaken as having harmful content. (Keep in mind that, while most geocachers are used to seeing and handling ammo boxes; this kind of container, especially if still labeled as containing ammunition, may look suspicious to the casual discoverer, especially if it's concealed in an urban or heavily-populated area. Since the events of September 11th, there is a heightened sensitivity toward items of possible harmful intent. So, rather than opening the container to read the cache letter, a person may simply notify the police of the ominous-looking container. There have been several reported incidences of geocaches that have been blown up by bomb squads. Expenses and negative publicity caused by these kinds of incidents will be detrimental to our sport, and should be avoided.)
  • Include a logbook and pen, so that people can record their find, and tell about their experience and/or what they traded for. (It's also a good idea to include a pencil, since the weather in Michigan often gets cold enough to freeze the ink in pens.)
  • Include a note explaining why the container is there (in case someone accidentally discovers the cache), and what the basic rules for playing are. Note: Be sure to include contact information, such as your e-mail address and/ or reference to www.geocaching.com, in case someone needs to contact you regarding the cache.
  • If you choose to hide a difficult to find cache, be sure to give enough information in the cache description and/or encrypted hints such that people will not be tempted to tear up or disturb the area around the cache during their search.
  • Remember that placing a cache is not a solitary 'event' that ends with your hiding the cache, but rather a beginning of an ongoing process of monitoring and maintaining your cache. You must be willing to check on its status periodically, and to pay attention and respond to the feedback provided to you through e-mail and/or the online logs. (If for any reason you tire of the game, or become unable to maintain your cache, you should either remove it immediately, or ask a fellow geocacher to take over responsibility for maintaining the cache. If you are unsure about who to ask, send us an e-mail, and we'd be happy to assist you in finding a new owner for your cache.)
  • Check for local caches before choosing your hiding place. If there are other caches in the area you want to hide a cache in, be sure that your cache offers something unique (view, geological feature, etc.) to make the hunt interesting, rather than being a 'copy' of an already existing cache. Be sure that it is far enough away that, given the combined error of your and the finders' GPS receivers, nobody will accidentally stumble across your cache when looking for another (or vice versa).
  • Our Michigan reviewers (Rusty , Tiki & DeRock ) have put some good information on their profile pages.  This information is not on the geocaching.com website,  If you have additional questions I recommend reviewing their information. 
  • Do not place caches on private property without first getting permission from the land owner.
  • Do not place caches on public lands which have specifically prohibited geocaching (i.e. National Parks). If you are not sure about a park system that you are considering placing a cache in, and would like to contact them prior to placing your cache. A sample Letter of Contact is included in our documents section.
  • Do not bury your caches, or do any anything to damage the area in which you will be hiding them (i.e., do not drill holes in trees, or dig up plants, etc.)
  • Do not place caches in areas where searches are likely to disturb or cause damage to the local wildlife or environment. (i.e. nesting birds, endangered wildflowers, etc.)
Guidelines for SEEKING Geocaches
  • It's easy to get so caught up in the "hunt", that all of your attention gets focused on the screen of your GPS receiver?and you forget to take much notice of the very thing that the cache hider was hoping to share?the beauty or uniqueness of the surroundings, including the walk into the final destination. Make a point on each cache hunt to enjoy the journey as much as the destination. (I think we will all agree that the trinket at the end is never the really the true prize that we walk away with.)
  • Speaking of trinkets, when you choose to trade something from a cache, make a habit of leaving items that are of equal or better quality than those that you take. There is a perception that the quality of caches typically degrades over time. Let's prove to the skeptics that, in Michigan, that's an exception rather than a rule. (If there is nothing in the cache that appeals to you in a particular cache, it is also acceptable to simply log the book without trading any items at all.)
  • As a courtesy to the cache owner, and to express your appreciation of the time and effort that they have put into placing the cache for your enjoyment, take a few moments to sign both the physical log book contained in the cache, as well as the online log on the corresponding cache webpage. Not only is this appreciated by the cache owner, but it is also useful for monitoring the ongoing state of a cache. (This is helpful to both cache owners as well as other seekers. For example, if a person has searched for a cache, and wasn't able to find it, the online logs will give him an idea of whether the cache has disappeared or if he was looking in the wrong places.)
  • When seeking, logging, and replacing a cache, be aware of others in the area who may be observing you. Take care to be discreet so as to not attract any attention that could result in non-cachers returning to the site, and taking or disturbing the cache after you are gone.
  • When you have finished logging your find, return the cache to its original location, and leave it in a similar state of camouflage that you found it (i.e. if there was bark or a stone covering the container, replace it afterwards). Remember that other people will be searching for the cache after you, and we want to maintain the fun for everyone.
  • Due to our common interest in enjoying the natural areas that lend themselves to hiding caches, and in the spirit of "giving back" something in return for the enjoyment we get from the places we visit during our caching activities, the geocaching community has established a "Cache In/Trash Out" practice. If you have pictures of your Cache In/Trash Out activities, please email them or your stories to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it .
  • When searching for a cache, do not take shortcuts that could cause harm or distress to the surrounding natural areas or wildlife, and do not trespass on private land, or areas marked as restricted. Even if something is not explicitly marked, always use common sense, and consider things such as erosion, sensitive foliage, nesting areas, etc. (Tip: Most caches are fairly close to marked trails. Unless a cache is rated as very having very difficult terrain, following the obvious path is usually the best route. Remember, the shortest distance between to points may be a straight line?but that's not always the fastest route.)
  • When choosing items to place in a cache, please refrain from leaving anything that could be dangerous, offensive, or illegal (such as explosives, pornography, or drugs). Remember that geocaching is a family activity.
  • Do not place food or scented items in caches. Animals have a much greater sense of smell than our own, and have been known to destroy caches that contain these items. (Also, avoid placing candles, liquids, or other items that may melt or freeze in a cache, depending on the season.) 
The Bottom Line (for both hiding and seeking geocaches)
  • Use common sense, and treat the caches and the areas they are hidden in as you would want your own property to be treated.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 16 December 2009 )