Visit Clearfield County GeoTrail To Go Live
Is it possible? Could there be an activity out there that will let you spend more time in the great outdoors? But what if I’m not a woodsy type and want to be outdoors in town? What if I am all about the outdoors and love to see wildlife or listen to the sound of a trout stream? What if I want to spend my time with my kids, spouse or friends? What if I want to just spend some alone time? What if I want to discover new places? What if I want to travel to do my discoveries? What if I’m a homebody and don’t want to travel far? How about throwing in some technology too? Could there be any activity out there that will allow any or all of these things? Yes there is and it’s called geocaching.
Geocaching is a worldwide treasure hunting game using a gps. To play geocaching participants hide containers as small as thimble sized waterproof cylinders, to as large as military ammo cans. The containers can be hidden anywhere interesting. They can be attached to a guardrail, hidden under a shrub or pile of logs or rocks. They can be attached to street signs or light posts. Creativity is encouraged. There are rules that geocachers must follow, including getting permission from landowners and not disturbing the property (ie. It is not allowed to bury a cache).
Once a cache is hidden, the geocacher goes online to www.geocaching.com and “builds” the cache with the longitude and latitude coordinates included in the description. Once approved by a volunteer reviewer it is published on the Web site so anyone can go find it. Geocachers that find a cache sign a logbook that is located in the container, places the container back into its hiding place so the next cacher can find it, then logs back onto the website to do an electronic logbook so the site can keep track of all your finds for you. The best part of geocaching is that it is free to register and play! Hand held gps units are available for purchase locally and online for as low as $100 or less and the geocaching Web site can help you choose which ones are best to play the game. If you are not sure if you could use a gps, Parker Dam State Park offers gps/geocaching programs on a regular basis in the summer and can provide you with a loaner gps to take the class. Check the Pennsylvania State Park Web site and choose Park Dam to view their activity schedule.
In 2011 Visit Clearfield County started a geocaching trail. This is a five year trail with a different theme each year. Last year the trail featured cemeteries of Clearfield County. Thirty caches were hid respectfully and with permission at thirty cemeteries throughout the county. Cachers then attempted to find 25 caches of the 30 hidden in order to earn a free custom wooden coin that was designed and manufactured at Elkwood Arts in Ridgway, just for this trail.
On May 13, the second year of the trail will be going public. The theme for 2012 is “Parks and Recreation in Clearfield County”. A committee of experienced geocachers have been working with Visit Clearfield County on this years’ trail since last fall. Committee members spread out in all directions throughout the county to find interesting parks and recreational areas to visit. Each site was evaluated for ease of access, availability of places to hide cache containers, and the willingness of the landowner to have a cache hidden on their property. In the end 30 great sites were found, caches placed, and the information submitted to the reviewer for approval.
The main goal of the trail included creating a geotrail that geocachers and their families would find interesting. Of importance was to attract geocachers from out of the Clearfield County area with the hopes that they will spend a couple of days in the county. This would benefit many of the local businesses. Geocachers frequently spend entire days, weekends or vacations in pursuit of caches and spend money at restaurants, purchasing gas and using local hotels and campgrounds. Studies have shown that for every six caches the geocachers find on a trail they spend approximately $200 locally. Another hope of the Tourism Authority is that once geocachers from out of the area come in and complete the trail they will like what they have seen and return to participate in other activities. There are also hundreds of caches hidden in Clearfield County that are not part of the trail that will encourage geocachers to return or stay longer.
Why not try something new and learn about all of the interesting places in the backwoods. backroads. backwaters. Enjoy combining recreation with technology, visit the Geocache website or contact Visit Clearfield County at www.visitclearfieldcounty.org/outdoors/geotrail.