Mackinac Island’s timeless familiarity is a major draw for many visitors. You know the charming downtown. You know the delectable fudge shops. You know the serene horse and carriage ride. You know the picturesque Arch Rock. But do you know all of Mackinac’s nooks and crannies off the beaten path?
Geocaching is a popular activity that encourages you to explore the island’s 3.8-square miles and 70-plus miles of trails. As an island that is 80 percent state parkland, geocaching is an activity perfect for visitors that want to experience the seemingly boundless beauty and wilderness of Mackinac Island.
Suitable for all ages, geocaching exercises both your mind and body. It effectively turns hiking – or biking – into a technology-aided treasure hunt. Using a smartphone app or GPS device, geocachers hunt for a cache located in an eco-friendly site above ground. Located at the given coordinates of a geocache site is typically a container with a logbook for record keeping and, in some instances, items for trades and trackables.
There are typically 120-140 active geocaches on Mackinac Island at any given time. For beginners and families, many caches are located along M-185 on the island’s 8.2-mile long perimeter. Experts and adventure seekers can pursue the trickier ones along Mackinac Island’s interior trails where many never wander.
Tom and Madelyn Le Page, who (with special permission) place the caches, say that one special cache is named Ginger, after an Island resident family’s pet and has been described by avid geocachers as one of the most memorable they have ever found. It’s only one example of how geocaching opens up areas to the island that many visitors never consider exploring. That’s the allure of geocaching: experiencing the adventures that are just there quietly waiting for you.
If this sounds like an adventure worth signing up for, you can get started at geocaching.com. A basic account is free and loaded with helpful information and you can start browsing discoverable caches located on the island. A cache’s detail page navigates you on your quest to locate it. It’s recommended to take your time and be observant while on the prowl; keep an eye out for anything that looks unnatural or unusual in the surrounding environment. Veteran geocachers also say it’s best to have a detailed Mackinac Island map with you on the search.
Upon discovering a cache, carefully remove it (to avoid tipping off to others its location) and examine the contents. Sign the logbook and if you take an item, be sure to replace it with another trinket. Then, re-seal the cache and return it exactly where you found it.
Whether you want to search for one or several caches, geocaching on Mackinac Island offers a memorable expedition. Your hunt can bring you near island staples like Sugar Loaf and Fort Holmes and areas you’ve never traversed before. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in the inspiring nature of Mackinac Island. There are endless hidden discoveries to stumble across via geocaching. It’s an exciting treasure hunt within Mackinac Island’s enchanting environment.