What Is Geocaching?
Geocaching is a new sport that has been growing in popularity, spurred
by the wide availability of inexpensive GPS locators. It's a high-tech
combination of hide-and-seek and treasure hunting. It involves hiding
and publishing their geographic coordinates on the Internet. Caches
have a log sheet that finders sign. They may also have small
in them that finders may exchange for others. Seekers use GPS locators
to find the caches. Because GPS locators have a resolution of 20 feet
so, the geocaches require some searching to locate them. There are
all over the world. There are thousands in the Bay Area and many in
Teresa Park. The purpose of this page is to provide information about
as it is an activity that is gaining more attention and is having an
impact on the park. Advice and opinions below are those
Issues and Concerns
Geocaching is an unregulated sport with no official governing
though local clubs have been formed in some areas. People who hide and
search for geocaches are doing it on their own. Therein lies one of the
main concerns. Geocaching is so new that public parks agencies are
figuring out what to make of it. (See the Rules and
below.) It is like the early days of mountain biking, when
officials did not know whether to allow it, ban it, regulate it, ignore
it, or wait and see how it developed. Geocaching is officially banned
National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, and in certain sensitive
require geocaches to be registered. Others allow it, but have
Some only allow certain types of geocaches, like virtual geocaches.
caches - A cache is actually an existing landmark, such as a tombstone
or statue. You have to answer a question from the landmark and let the
"cache" owner know as proof that you were there." See the note about
geocaches in the Advice section.)
Even without new regulations, certain aspects of geocaching
afoul of existing rules. Since geocaches obviously cannot be hidden in
the middle of a trail, they are usually placed off the trail. Going
is technically against park rules. Also, abandoning personal property
public lands could be considered littering, though geocachers usually
their best to keep the caches out of sight. With heightened fears of
finding suspicious hidden containers on public or private lands could
bomb scares, which has actually
happened. Misunderstandings like this can bring undue negative
to geocaching. While geocachers tend to be responsible people, there is
always the potential for mischief and abuse.
Park officials are worried about the impact of geocaching on
natural resources of the parks They are concerned about people
sensitive habitats or damaging historical sites while hiding or
for geocaches. Park officials are also concerned about the safety of
involved in geocaching. There was an incident recently in Santa Teresa
Park, where a person searching for a geocache off-trail above the
Ranch sat on a log to rest and was bitten on the hand by a rattlesnake.
He was in Santa Teresa Hospital for 3 days. Even though this could have
happened to anyone, it is incidents like this that can draw attention
geocaching and spur park officials to take some kind of action.
Small geocache in Tupperware
Santa Clara County Parks Geocaching
After many meetings and discussions with local geocachers, the County
Parks adopted a policy on geocaching
in November 2006. It may change over time, but here is the initial
Policy Name: Geocaching
It shall be the policy of the Parks and Recreation Department to
encourage positive use
of its parks and resources. Geocaching can be a positive recreational
practiced under established conditions and procedures.
Geocaching is initiated by an individual hiding a cache, (normally a
waterproof container with small items inside) then recording the
location with a Global Positioning Unit (GPS). The individual then
posts the GPS coordinates along with a description of the cache on a
Geocaching website. Other individuals then try to find the cache. When
it is located, participants sign a logbook, then take or leave a small
item. The following procedures shall apply to the placement, discovery
and management of geocaches.
- A permit is not required
for the placing or searching for geocaches within Santa Clara County
- Placing and searching for
geocaches may only take place during normal park hours in park areas
open to the public.
- Caches must be registered
on the Internet with Geocaching.com.
- Caches must comply with
all guidelines established with Geocaching.com.
- All caches must be clearly
labeled either on the exterior or within as a “Geocache” and include a
note describing the activity to an unintentional finder.
- Contact information for
the owner must be included in the cache.
- Caches must not be placed
so as to encourage the development of new “volunteer” trails.
- Caches must not be placed
in locations that will encourage erosion or trail damage, or further
than 20 feet from a trail edge.
- Caches may not be buried,
or located within a water body.
- Cutting or modification of
vegetation is prohibited.
- Modification of
geographical features is prohibited.
- Altering park signs,
fences, posts, trails, trail markers or any park building is prohibited.
- Caches may not be placed
on or near potentially hazardous locations.
- Caches must not interfere
with wildlife or other park visitors.
- Caches may not contain
inappropriate, hazardous or illegal materials such as flammables,
explosives or food.
- Caches may not be located
on or in park buildings or structures or within designated historic or
cultural resource areas.
- Caches must be maintained
by the owner. Caches that have been abandoned and not maintained will
be considered as litter and removed.
- The Department reserves
the right to remove any cache that has been determined to be
inappropriate either in location or content, hazardous or has an impact
to other park visitors, park neighbors or natural or cultural resources.
See the rest of the policy for a description of the management
Here is a geocache at County Parks Headquarters that demonstrates these
Advice to Geocachers
Here is some advice for geocachers to avoid getting into trouble. They
should be careful not to go far off-trail. They should avoid
areas and watch for rattlesnakes and other hazards. While rattlesnakes,
Lyme disease-carrying ticks, Hanta virus-infected rodents, thistles,
poison oak are a hazard to all park users, geocachers are especially
if they go off-trail and use their hands to search through plants,
and ground holes for geocaches. Using long-handled
, hiking sticks, or other tools are safer, plus they can be
used for picking up litter.
People placing geocaches should avoid hiding them in animal
holes or among large piles of rocks, as those are prime hiding places
for rattlesnakes and
insects. Tree holes can be breeding grounds for West Nile
mosquitoes. Hanta virus is carried in rodent droppings. Rodents can
through plastic containers. Don't put anything edible or anything that
smells like food in the cache. Don't use plastic containers that smell
like food. Wild pigs will root through fields, digging them up, which
reveal or bury geocaches. Pigs have strong jaws, which can break
containers. People hiding geocaches should take care to make the caches
animal-proof, so that wild animals are not likely to get into them and
ingest the contents, which can be harmful to them. People should never
go geocaching in the park at night. Not only is it against the rules,
night is when mountain lions are on the hunt. Skunks and wild pigs are also
If geocaches are placed at or near the edge of a trail,
can find them without going off-trail, and thus avoid breaking the
against going off-trail. If geocaches are placed off-trail, volunteer
can develop, leading people right to the cache, defeating the purpose
hiding them. They can also lead "geo-muggles" to the caches, which can
lead to them disappearing. They should be labeled as geocaches, so they
are not mistaken for trash or bombs. Caches should never be buried, nor
should searchers dig in an attempt to find them. (Geocaching.com will
list buried caches.)
While a simple GPS unit can tell you where a cache is located,
not necessarily tell you the best, the safest, or the most legal way to
get there. To do that requires a map. Always carry a park map. A topo
would also help. Expensive GPS units can store maps, but a park
map is free. Stay on established trails to reach the caches. Plan
Look up the geocache coordinates on a map or online mapping site and
which trails to take. Don't bushwhack a shortcut or use illegal
Teresa Park is surrounded by private property. It also
areas where public access is not allowed. Geocachers should take care
avoid these areas. Consult the park map. Some areas to avoid are the
Tree Lot, the Pyzak Ranch, the Bonetti Ranch, the Mounted Ranger Unit,
the Rosetto Ranch, and the Club 14-E site. The Muriel Wright Ranch is a
volunteer's office, but it is also a sheriff's station. The Lagatutta
property near Coyote
and the antenna sites on Coyote Peak are private and off-limits. Parts
of the Santa Teresa Golf Course are open to golfers only. Stay away
the actual shooting areas at the archery range. The Coyote-Alamitos
levee is not a park trail. Some parts of it, parcularly west of
Drive are private property. The Stile Ranch Trail is technically on
property, for which an easement is granted for trail use. IBM could
going off-trail here to be trespassing.
Particularly avoid historical structures that are not open to
such as the barn on the Fortini
Trail, they Pyzak Ranch on Curie Drive,
and the old house and barn at the Buck Norred site. Not only are they
and delicate historical treasures that can be damaged by trespassers,
can be hazardous. They may contain sharp objects, rusty nails, and
glass. They may not be structurally stable, and may collapse on top of
people. They often harbor disease-carrying rodents, which can attract
Note on virtual caches: These have actually become so popular
that new virtual geocaches and reverse virtual
caches (locationless caches) are no longer allowed on Geocaching.com.
There is a new website, which is a spinoff from Geocaching.com, for
these types of caches, Waymarking.com.
One big advantage of virtual geocaching is that it is
practically impossible and unnecessary to regulate it, as it is
from hiking and sightseeing with a GPS, as long as it doesn't involve
Geocache in plastic container,
in tree trunk
Benefits of Geocaching
Despite the concerns, there are many positive aspects to geocaching in
- It introduces people to the park who might not otherwise
visit it. More
users can mean:
- More potential park supporters and volunteers.
- More eyes to watch for hazardous conditions, fires,
injured persons, or
illegal activities. (Having a GPS locator can be very useful in
emergencies or reporting the precise location of problem areas.)
- More park revenues (e.g. parking fees).
- More support for park funding and improvements.
- It brings people outdoors and out for walks and hikes,
which is good
- It is a quiet, slow, and sometimes stealthy activity that
disturbing to other park users and wildlife.
- It does not deface park property, unlike paintballing. The
geocaches is to make them hard to see.
- It is a relatively inexpensive activity. A GPS locator is
most digital cameras and mountain bikes. In a group, only 1 person
to have a locator.
- It is an activity that can be enjoyed by all ages and
- It can be enjoyed by individuals or by groups, such as
- It is one way to entice older children in families to use
They might not be excited about seeing wildflowers or historic
but they might be by the prospect of a hunt for hidden treasures. This
kind of activity can bring families closer together.
- It can be educational in teaching kids about geography and
skills. Just being out in a park can be educational in terms of
and learning to appreciate nature and the environment.
- Many geocachers participate in the practice of "cache-in,
they pick up and remove trash they find while geocaching.
The parks department has so far taken a "wait-and-see" attitude towards
geocaching. Ultimately, it could end up being like mountain biking:
but with some rules.
Geocaches in Santa Teresa Park
Small geocache in magnetized
The following list and titles are from the Geocaching.com
Website as of the last update. These are primarily non-puzzle geocaches
Park. Note that these are subject to change at any time and may not be
all-inclusive. Some of these may require a paid membership to
to access (these are indicated with an *). Some are multi-caches with
than 1 cache. These caches are listed for information only. The
and the contents of the caches and the means to find them are not
approved (or disapproved) by the Friends of Santa Teresa Park. Listed
the closest trails to the caches where it's not obvious from the names.
These may become disabled at any time, so they may not all be