The Susquehanna River is seen from Hawks Point Overlook in Susquehannock State Park in Lancaster County, Pa. (Photo courtesy Patrick Rohe under a CC BY-ND 2.0 license)

Looking for a way to turn everyday life into a treasure hunt? Geocaching might be for you. Geocachers use a GPS or smartphone to find small caches hidden throughout the world. The cache usually is a waterproof container holding small trinkets and a log book. Those who find the cache can take one of the trinkets, leave a new one and record their name in the log.

Geocaching can be a great way to explore areas of the Chesapeake region you may never see otherwise. The National Park Service and Chesapeake Conservancy collaborated with local geocaching organizations to create the Find Your Chesapeake GeoTour, a group of more than 60 geocaches in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The first 400 people to find 20 caches on the tour and record them in the Find Your Chesapeake passport can win a special geocoin.

Here’s a closer look at some of the sites along the GeoTour where you can find a cache.

Susquehannock State Park (Drumore, Pa.)

Susquehannock State Park is a 224-acre park located along the Lower Susquehanna River. The park is known for its many scenic overlooks, offering views of the river as well as Lake Aldred, Weise Island, Mount Johnson Island and the Conowingo Reservoir. Geocachers will need to explore a somewhat-challenging descent near the park’s Overlook Trail to locate the cache, which is hidden between two rocks.

Trap Pond State Park (Laurel, Del.)

A paddle through the large stretch of remaining swamp at Trap Pond yields views not unlike you would see hundreds of years ago. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)

Trap Pond State Park is home to the country’s northernmost bald cypress trees. The park, located along the Nanticoke River, provides a glimpse into the wetland swamp landscape that once covered much of southwestern Delaware. Visitors can enjoy the forested wetland through hiking, boating, fishing or birdwatching. Find Your Chesapeake GeoTour participants can pick up two caches for their log at Trap Pond—accessible by kayak or canoe.

Battle Creek Cyprus Swamp (Calvert County, Md.)

Jennifer Stilley, Nature Center Aide at Battle Creek Cypress Swamp Sanctuary, holds a barred owl that lives at the sanctuary's nature center in Prince Frederick, Md. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)

Battle Creek Cyprus Swamp, located along the Patuxent River, provides another great opportunity to view bald cypress trees at the northernmost part of their range. The swamp can be explored from a 1,700 foot boardwalk, and visitors can learn more about the unique ecosystem at the nature center. This site is a Wherigo, which mixes traditional geocaching with a GPS-based adventure game. Participants must download the Wherigo cartridge to their phone or GPS and follow the game in order to find the cache.

Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center (Grasonville, Md.)

Members of the Kent County Bird Club spot a brown-headed nuthatch at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center in Grasonville, Md. (Photo by Will Parson/Chesapeake Bay Program)

Located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center works to promote environmental stewardship through education. Visitors to the center can participate in birding, kayaking and hiking, or can get up close and personal with raptors at the birds of prey exhibit. Geocachers will be kept busy at this site: there are more than ten caches here in addition to the official GeoTour cache.

Belle Isle State Park (Lancaster, Va.)

Children participate in summer programs at Belle Isle State Park in Lancaster County, Va. (Photo courtesy Virginia State Parks under a CC BY 2.0 license)

Belle Isle State Park, located along the Rappahannock River, incorporates a wide variety of landscapes and habitats, including forests, farmland and eight types of wetlands. Visitors can enjoy camping, picnicking, biking, boating, fishing and horseback riding. The Find Your Chesapeake GeoTour cache can be found along the water, just off Porpoise Creek Trail, and there are several other caches scattered throughout the park.

Jamestown Glasshouse (Yorktown, Va.)

The Jamestown Glasshouse is pictured in Williamsburg, Va. (Photo courtesy National Park Service)

The Jamestown Glasshouse, located near the James River, is a great stop for geocachers interested in history. The remains of Historic Jamestown’s glass furnaces date back to the early 1600s, when early English colonizers attempted to bring a profitable industry across the Atlantic. Visitors can see the original furnaces as well as glass-blowing demonstrations, where modern artisans use similar tools and methods to those the colonials would have. Geocachers won’t have to search through rocks or trees at this indoor location, making it a unique stop on the GeoTour.

Marshy Point Nature Center (Baltimore, Md.)

Marshy Point Nature Center is seen in Baltimore, Md. (Photo courtesy shell game/Flickr under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license)

Marshy Point Nature Center is located along the Upper Chesapeake Bay, near the Patapsco River. The center is one part of a more than 3,000-acre preserve, featuring hiking trails, a canoe launch, wildlife exhibits and a butterfly garden. Visitors to the center can see more than 50 species of native wildlife, including diamondback terrapins, blue crabs and a barred owl. The cache is out on the trails and involves a scavenger hunt—geocachers need to collect hints from two other spots before finding the location of the cache.

Caledon State Park (King George, Va.)

Catherine Krikstan and Stephanie Smith explore Caledon State Park on a trip organized by HerChesapeake, a professional association for women who work to restore the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. (Photo by Joan Smedinghoff/Chesapeake Bay Program)

Caledon State Park, near the Potomac River, is known for its bald eagles. Many bald eagles live in the area during the summer, providing bird watchers with a great opportunity to catch a glimpse. There is also a bald eagle exhibit in the park’s visitor center. Ten hiking trails take visitors through the marshlands and old-growth forests of the park to find the hidden caches. There are many geocaches throughout the park, including two stops on the Find Your Chesapeake GeoTour.

Will you be participating in the GeoTour? Let us know in the comments!



Phill Wilder

I have completed about 50 of the 64 caches in this series. Many follow Captain John Smith's surveys up the rivers flowing into the Chesapeake. The tour kickoff was on the Susquehanna. Most of my remaining caches are along the James River. Many have revealed place I never knew about. I encourage everyone to at least do twenty to qualify for a FYC Geotour geocoin.

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