Radium Hot Springs develops expansive trail system to attract visitors

Instead of a list of clues, it’s a set of co-ordinates. Instead of your neighbour’s front stoop, it’s a trail out in the woods. This isn’t your average treasure hunt — this is geocaching and it’s taking the world by storm.

Geocaching uses a set of co-ordinates so participants can set off to find caches (hidden objects) in secluded locations. As an outdoor adventure activity, it caters to participants of all ages and abilities. Trail systems and locations vary in difficulty and are all placed with one goal in mind — getting people outside and active.

Currently there are caches hidden in more than 100 countries on all seven continents and more than one million participants who actively seek out these locations. Various online forums and communities have sprung up around this activity and one website in particular, geocaching.com, is the holy grail of geocaching.

Kent Kebe, manager of the Radium Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce, described how the website works.

The views alone make the drive out to Bugaboo Provincial park — the location for the Bugaboo geocache trail — well worth the adventure. Photo: Taryn Hajnrych“Caches must be registered on the website and have to be such a distance apart from one another,” he said.

“You have to go online and see if someone has already placed a cache close to that location. If someone’s cache is in fact close it won’t allow it and you have to change it, which is good because you don’t want cache on top of cache,” he said.

Once caches are registered with the website, participants who have signed up for a free membership can gain access to the co-ordinates required to find them.

And when the co-ordinates have been provided, participants can plug them into their GPS (global positioning system) and head off in search of the cache. The co-ordinates provided will only lead adventure seeking enthusiasts to the general area of the cache and from there it is up to them to find its precise location.

Caches can be very obvious, or in some cases can be deceptively hidden in a tree or under rocks.

Geocaching leads participants down some interesting trails while introducing families to nature. This adventure sport is suitable for people of all ages and abilities. Photo: Taryn HajnrychTourism Radium and the Radium Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce have been actively working to establish a varied network of geocache trails in and around the town of Radium.

The town of Radium is approximately a three-hour drive outside of Calgary that takes you through Banff National Park and Kootenay National Park, as well as two of Canada’s majestic mountain ranges.

Locals and tourists alike have expressed an interest in the development of geocaching in this area and trail development is well underway, with a few already being completed.

“There are other people out there who have already developed trails,” Kebe said. “It’s more a matter of going out and finding what is there already and trying to work with them.”

An avid hiker, Lordele Greenyer said, “My first summer living in the Lake Louise area I was very interested in hiking but soon became bored with just walking up a mountain, looking at a view and walking down.”

“Near the middle of the summer and with the most popular hikes already completed I checked the internet for ideas to do while hiking. I came across the suggestion to geocache, which was advertised as a worldwide treasure hunt and it seemed pretty interesting,” he said.

“I quickly rounded up the few caches that were in Lake Louise and on my days off would venture out a little further from home. The summer activity became a great way to see different areas within driving distance of where I lived,” he said.

Greenyer said geocaching has kept his interest because of the amount of caches available and the places the sport can take you. He and his girlfriend, who geocache as a team, have found many beautiful locations through the activity, such as secluded waterfalls and old vehicles abandoned deep in the forest, that they otherwise would not have known existed.

“It’s funny how many times you find a geocache in an area where you can see something pretty neat that 99 per cent of the population has missed,” he said.

Greenyer said he has only been able to hide one cache, which is at his girlfriend’s family tea cottage in Perth, Ontario. He is able to monitor how many people have found this location via the website.

He added that his girlfriend’s family has also seen an influx in business from fellow geocachers who come in for tea and sandwiches after finding his cache.

The start up is minimal, said Greenyer, but the possibilities are endless and the activity itself is fun and simple.

Kebe said he thinks one of the most important aspects of geocaching is that it is an event families can do together. He said it’s a good way to introduce kids into nature and teach them something other than video games.

For more info on trails and to keep up-to-date with the geocaching development in Radium, check out bcrockiestreasuretrails.com.

thajnrych@cjournal.ca