Geocaching is a family-friendly outdoor scavenger-hunt game wherein players hike the great outdoors in search of hidden-treasure caches left by other players. The caches are flamboyant and fun to find, but you don’t take the treasure with you—the rule is that if you take anything from the cache, you leave something else of equal or greater value. It’s more about the outdoor hunting journey, and there’s no place for an outdoor hunting journey quite like the mountains, hiking trails and lookouts of Lake County.
The most popular geocaching community is Geocaching.com, listing nearly a hundred hidden geocaches in Lake County alone; but there are oodles more left by other geocaching groups. Lake County geocachers are notorious for hiding their treasures in the most unbelievably scenic spots, and all you need is a GPS-enabled device to find them (a smartphone works, though some prefer a dedicated GPS device).
Most hunts involve a combination of driving and hiking to find the cache, and this being Lake County, a few of them will require a boat. Here are a few of the top Lake County locations where geocachers will enjoy happy hunting.
There are geocached hidden treasures galore all along the 100-mile shore of the oldest lake in North America, Clear Lake. Most of them are clustered around the spots with the most amazing views, like the pristine bird-watching paradise of Rodman Slough County Park, the bridges, trees and gazebo of Clearlake Oaks Plaza, and the roadside fishing parks along the incredibly scenic California State Route 20.
One most unbelievable hiding spots for geocaches is an area of Clear Lake called Soda Bay, right next to Clear Lake State Park. There are a couple of caches hidden right in that park, beneath gorgeous rock formations or in prime panoramic viewing spots of Clear Lake. Most notably, one of the caches is on a small island just off the Clear Lake coast that contains a natural hot spring and brilliantly colored rocks that are often wandered by turtles sunning themselves. This is not a safe area to swim, but the island is perfectly safe to reach by boat or floatation device.
The Redbud Trail to Cache Creek
It wouldn’t be caching if you didn’t visit the Cache Creek Wilderness Area. Redbud Trail is open year-round for horseback riding and mountain biking, but the trails are also jam-packed with hidden geocaches. You’ll also be treated to astonishing high-altitude views of Cache Creek, plus bald eagles in the wintertime, wild flowers in the spring and the rare tule elk all year long. Some of the hills on Redbud Trail are steep, but the trails themselves are very nicely defined.
Indian Valley Reservoir
Most of the caches near the Indian Valley Reservoir are not within the reservoir itself, but along the high-elevation vista that is Bartlett Springs Road. It is a dirt road, but these caches provide unbelievable, 3,500-foot views of the reservoir, Mount Konocti and Bear Valley.
There are a few safety guidelines to keep in mind while geocaching. Most importantly, be prepared for what may be a long hike by bringing water, sunscreen and a first-aid kit. Avoid private property and realize that Lake County’s rich wildlife environment does include some snakes.
But there are few places in the U.S. as perfectly suited to geocaching as Lake County, with unforgettable hiking trails, views beyond comparison and magnificently mild weather year-round.
Pack up the crew and take a hunting trip—treasure hunting, that is—in the hills, in the mountains and on the shores of Lake County, where geocachers have hidden plenty of treasures, but the greatest treasures are provided by Mother Nature.
Our thanks to Geocaching.com for use of the image.