Geocaching in the Pennsylvania Wilds
So, picture this: You’re out in the Pennsylvania Wilds. You see someone walking around with a device, looking for something. They peer into a hole in a tree, pull out a container, scribble a signature on a slip of paper inside, and replace the whole thing. What did you just witness?
It’s a game, and it’s called geocaching.
Geocaching involves using a handheld GPS to find small containers, often full of prizes, hidden by other players. Coordinates and details for the caches are on the website, www.geocaching.com. Each container is generally waterproof, some contain small items, and each contains paper, to sign your name and prove you’ve been there.
You start online, by looking for caches on the site. Players enter the coordinates into their GPS, find the geocache, take a prize if they like, and then put it back for the next player. (If you take a prize, you have to leave something for the next guy. Most cachers have a pocketful of trinkets with them.) It’s free to play, kid-friendly, and lots of fun.
And the Pennsylvania Wilds are full of these things.
This is not even close to a complete list of caches. To browse them all, go to the website—and by all means, browse them all! Each cache is often near others, so find several in the area, if you choose. But the ones below are a few of the neatest and most enjoyable caches in each county.
ALLEGHENY NATIONAL FOREST & SURROUNDS
Near both Route 6 and the Allegheny River, Warren County’s “Crescent Park Cache” is worth a find. This is a micro, meaning that it’s small, but not too small.
Another good multi-cache, the kind with several stages, is the “Smethport Old Jail Museum” in McKean County. This one is challenging, with both puzzles to solve and a couple of stops to make. If you love puzzles and mysteries, as well as historic locations, it’s the right cache for you.
A fascinating cache in Forest County is “Refugee Towns,” a micro placed by an interesting historic marker. This one is known as a “Cache and Dash,” which means it’s remarkably easy to just grab and go on to the next one.
COOK FOREST AND THE ANCIENTS
Clarion County is named after the sound the river makes as it passes through, and “River View” is a cache that promotes that. Placed with a beautiful, scenic view of the Clarion River, this simple magnetic cache is worth a look.
The southern end of Potter County has both a borough and a cache named “Cross Fork.” This cache is a neat little find, and it shows a bit of history and geography of the area.
In Elk County, you’re encouraged to cache and bike at the same time with “Welcome to the Rail Trail.” This cache introduces players to the Clarion-Little Toby Creek Rail Trail, where they can also take a scenic ride.
The aptly named “Welcome To Cameron County” is in Emporium. This one is a nano-cache, the tiniest of the caches—Some nano-caches are about the size of a fingernail. They have a tiny piece of paper inside, rolled up to sign.
In Clinton County, a challenging one is “The Search for Flight N32777,” which is placed near the spot where a Piper Tomahawk crashed in 1986. This one is a multi-cache, with a couple of stops before you get to the final goal. It’s a decent hike in the mountains just southeast of Lock Haven.
Centre County has the beautiful “Overlooking the Lake” quest in Bald Eagle State Park. (You need special permission to hide a cache in a state park, though anyone can find them once they’re there.) This one overlooks the Foster Joseph Sayers Reservoir, and it’s a CITO—That stands for “Cache In, Trash Out,” meaning that you are encouraged to do the environment a favor, and pick up some trash while you’re looking.
Clearfield County promotes both its outdoors and its theater with “Clearfield Arts.” This is an easy cache and part of a geotrail, which takes you to other caches, making it easy to find several in a row.
Jefferson County boasts “Welcome To Historic Brookville,” which brings the finder right into the historic district. This cache promotes the historic district of the county seat, and is a quick and easy one for beginners.
PINE CREEK VALLEY & THE PA GRAND CANYON
In Tioga County, some nice caches are found in Wellsboro. One of these is “Wellsboro Cemetery.” Cemeteries are popular places for geocaches, but only when the player hiding it gets permission. Please avoid searching for a cemetery cache after dark.
Lycoming County has “Bases Loaded” in Williamsport, which is a challenging mystery cache requiring the player to answer some questions before the final find. It’s placed around a piece of art in downtown Williamsport, celebrating the invention of Little League Baseball in that community.
The best thing about geocaching is that it gets you out there, into the world. It’s a game of adventure and exploration. So what are you waiting for?
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