West Seattle 101: Geocaching

bookcover4.jpgfrom “West Seattle 101” by Lori Hinton
(updated 3/08)

Think you know your way around West Seattle? Challenge yourself to find new routes through the neighborhood with an outdoor game that befuddles even the savviest native. Introducing geocaching.

Started in Portland, Oregon, during the spring of 2000 and quickly spreading all the way up to West Seattle, geocaching is a modern-day treasure hunt.


Using Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers to move you from one set of coordinates to another, you follow a course that eventually lands you in a final cache location where other geocachers have previously hidden prizes for your discovery.

It’s a great way to get outside for some exercise and get your mind working as well.

So, how do you instigate this venture? First, go to www.geocaching.com. Once you have chosen your West Seattle cache, enter the location’s coordinates into your GPS receiver to find out how far away and in what direction the cache lies—two dozen satellites in low Earth orbit can’t steer you wrong.

You proceed from point to point with simple activities followed by equations such as counting the bolts on a bench and multiplying that number by five (see website for specific clues).

And the journey is just as fun as finding the hidden cache. You often need to navigate obstacles such as cliffs, water, or impassible structures. Some choose to conquer their cache on foot, by bike, or even via kayak.

Arrive at it how you wish, but once you finally catch on to the cache and complete the course, make sure you’ve remembered to bring a prize. Following the take-a-prize-give-a prize philosophy, you are allowed to grab the prize you find waiting, but you must replace it with another for the next geocacher who happens upon the site.

What are some typical cache tchotskies? Depending on the size of the cache, you may find toys, trinkets, CDs, or even a nibble of food. You’ll also find a log book where you can prove your feat and scribble notes for future cache visitors.

A great outdoor activity for any age, geocaching can be played by individual adventurers, families, and couples. And while the prizes aren’t big, the reward of spending time outdoors with friends or family and challenging your brain in new ways is definitely worth the trek.

To try geocaching yourself, look up one of many West Seattle locationson the geocache website. A few of the latest postings include The Rockhounder, Orchard Street Ravine, and Mystery at Lincoln Park. To see the coordinates for each, simply create an account (it’s free) and voila!


What: Geocaching

Where: Alki, Schmitz Park and more (go to: www.geocaching.com)

When: Year-round

Price: Free; but you will need to borrow or buy a GPS receiver if you don’t have one (they usually start around $100)
Find more “West Seattle 101” stories on WSB by going here.

Buy the book at any of these West Seattle stores:
Alki Bike & Board
Barnes & Noble
Coastal Boutique
Easy Street Records
Square 1 Books

Also, online:
Adventure Press

Basic Green Box