Maryland’s geocaching trail could have you wiggling through a cave or paddling through the Potomac.
At least, that’s what Susan Kelley, director of the Maryland Geocaching Society, found herself doing while she was exploring some of the caches of Maryland’s statewide geocaching trail earlier this year.
And now, as the Maryland Municipal League sets to debut its second statewide treasure hunt on Jan. 5 called Discovering Maryland Geotrail, Poolesville, Gaithersburg, Rockville and Washington Grove all have created new caches for the new trail.
Maryland made news in 2009 when it became the first state in the nation to create a statewide geocache trail. It stretched through 82 different towns and cities, a model that was emulated in several other states.
“Geocaching is a worldwide game of hiding and seeking treasure. A geocacher can place a geocache in the world, pinpoint its location using GPS technology and then share the geocache’s existence and location online,” according to www.geocaching.com.
The Discovering Maryland Geotrail will include 49 towns and cities. The League will reward the first 200 people who find the record at least 20 geocaches with a commemorative trackable geocoin. To be eligible, participants must record the location, date and code of the find in the Official MML Geotrail Passport and post a picture at each chase. Completed Passports must then be mailed to the MML offices.
The city of Gaithersburg, which also participated in the 2009 trail, called the Maryland Geotrail, is contributing its own geocache and prize to the list this year. The first person to find the cache will receive two, one-day passes to Fitness Zone in the Activity Center at Bohrer Park, according to a release from the city. Other prizes such as water park passes may be added to the Bohrer Park cache.
Eleven more caches within Gaithersburg are maintained by private citizens, who had them approved by the city and added to the trail.
“It’s a fun hobby. [Geocaching] is a good way to get outside, get outdoors,” Kelley said. “It’s taken me to places I would never have found otherwise.”
Kelley said that the 82 caches in the first geotrail were visited in excess of 30,000 times, by several thousand geocachers. Some geocachers visited more than one cache, she said.
“We’re hoping to reach a couple thousand folks in the trail’s debut,” said Paula Chase-Hyman, manager of member relations for the Maryland Municipal League.
The trail kicks off with several events around Maryland on Jan. 5, with “how to” demonstrations and kids’ activities, in Greenbelt, Hancock and Perryville, and the coordinates to the new caches.
Would-be geocachers who miss the kickoff can access a list of the trail’s coordinates after registering at www.geocaching.com.
“Having places like Maryland setting up geotours, they’re basically inviting the global community to come visit Maryland and have this interactive outdoor adventure where they can learn something about the history, be educated, learn more about what Maryland has to offer,” said Bryan Roth, a co-founder of the site.
Connie Yingling, public relations coordinator for the Maryland Office of Tourism, said that the trail gets people out to a number of Maryland’s tourism destinations.
“There’s a definite tourism and economic impact,” she said.
Poolesville joined the first geocache trail in 2009, said Cathy Bupp, a town official who helped set up the town’s cache.
“They sent us an invitation and we joined up,” she said, referring to the Maryland Municipal League.
They placed decks of cards, Poolesville pens, and other trinkets in the cache, which visitors to the cache replaced with other objects, she said.
Bupp said she hid the new cache near one of the town’s local historic sites.
About two hundred people had visited that first cache so far, she said, and the town has just added the second one.
“Poolesville looked a lot different from the last time we were here. It seems to have a lot of new development. The new town hall is beautiful,” one geocacher wrote after visiting the first cache, according to comments left on a website managed by the town.
“[It’s] a small amount of people but it doesn’t really cost us anything,” she said. “Fifty is better than none.”
Staff writer Sylvia Carignan contributed to this story.