It's the perfect combination: the beauty of the north woods that encompass the Whitefish Chain, and the technology in our pockets that we all love so well. Geocaching uses the GPS on a smartphone (or a handheld GPS) to help treasure hunters find hidden containers.
Once you start looking for them, you'll find that geocaching containers (which can be in a variety of shapes and sizes) are everywhere. The Paul Bunyan Trail, which runs along Highway 371, has more than 100 geocaches on its length. More than 180 geocaches are within 10 miles of Crosslake, and 233 within 10 miles of Pequot Lakes!
So, how do you geocache? First, visit geocaching.com or download the Geocaching app on the apple or android app store (the app is free). Create an account and then do a search for the geocaches in Crosslake, Pequot Lakes or Pine River. You'll find the coordinates of the geocache and, sometimes, a hint. Use the app, map the coordinates on Google maps, or use a GPS to find your way to the coordinates. Once you're within 20-30 feet, put your phone or GPS in your pocket and start searching!
Geocaches could be anywhere- hanging in a tree, under a rock, stuck to a bench or inside a dead log. The only thing you know for sure is that geocaches will not be buried- though they could be under some dead leaves or sticks.
Geocaches usually have a logbook inside for you to sign once you find them, so bring a pen! Some of them will also include trinkets inside that you can trade for something of your own. Remember to always trade equal or up! When you're done, put the geocache back where you found it and start looking for another!
While geocaching is a nation-wide and perhaps even global activity, every cache is unique. Some are even multi-step puzzles. Take this cache for example- it's in the water of the Whitefish chain! Follow coordinates on golden rocks in Big Trout Lake (you might want to bring a scrub brush to remove the algae) to find the hidden, underwater cache! Another cache near the Pine River Dam in the city of Pine River requires you to learn a little history- and do some simple math- to find the cache.
There are also two caches on separate islands on Clamshell Lake. This one might be a good one to find by kayak, or perhaps you'll use a canoe to find this one further to the east. There are also caches in the Corps of Engineers Cross Lake Recreation Area, Historic Log Village, Big Trout Lake Landing, another on the shore of Lower Hay, and many, many more!
All it takes to geocache is a smartphone or GPS and a sense of adventure. Have fun exploring the lakes and woods!