Take the hint: give a clue

What’s the best part of hiding a geocache? For some, it’s being creative with the container, for others, it’s all about the location. But one thing the majority of cache owners enjoy is reading “Found it” logs from geocachers who successfully located the container. One of the best ways to help increase “Found it” logs is by adding a hint to your cache page. But what makes a good hint? We have a few nudges if you’ve been looking for a hint to create one for your cache hide.

If you’ve ever checked a hint only for it to say “None needed,” you know that all hints aren’t created equally and how frustrating it can be to see. Hints can be the difference between a Found it and a Didn’t find it (DNF) log for many geocachers, but especially beginners. You may recall our prior blog post demystifying some common hints you may come across as a finder, but what about the kind of hints you should consider adding as a cache owner? The hint doesn’t need to spoil the exact location of the container, but it should be treated as another clue in the puzzle of where your cache can be found.

Set the scene
When writing a hint, visualize everything a player sees once they get within 30 feet/10 meters from the coordinates. What would be the most helpful hint to help them focus their search? Often, this looks like a hint that provides a visual “aha” moment at the coordinates.

Strike a balance
Consider a hint that balances challenge and fun compared to the hide. It’s great to be coy, but don’t make the hint harder to understand than getting to the coordinates. You might even consider making the hint clearer if the cache itself is challenging to get to!

Think about your hide as a whole
You might decide to match your hint to the level of difficulty of your hide. Similarly, if your cache is in a crowded place or often goes missing, adding a clearer hint might prevent finders from drawing too much attention to themselves while searching and, by extension, the cache container.

Put yourself in their shoes
Hints that give important details about how accessible and far the cache is off the ground are helpful for narrowing down the search. Stay away from descriptors like ‘eye-level’ and ‘chest high’ that aren’t universal measurements and don’t communicate enough information since, like geocaches, geocachers come in all shapes and sizes.

We knew you were new
If you have caches designed for first-time finders, kids, or in a popular area, you might consider making your hint the clearest you feel comfortable with; new players will feel the thrill of the find and it helps them learn the game!

Evaluate the description
A hint is meant to give details that wouldn’t be in the cache description, so make sure the hint focuses on helpful information the cacher needs to either solve a puzzle or help them after they’ve arrived at the coordinates.

Think big
Geocaching is a worldwide game, so geocachers might come from anywhere in the world to find your cache! Challenge yourself to write a hint that doesn’t rely on local knowledge (“typical hide”) or finding other geocaches that are mostly known within your regional geocaching community.

Consider adding a spoiler photo
Already have a hint? Add a spoiler photo! After all, a photo is worth a thousand words. This can be a photo of the container, the tree the container is hidden next to, or the view from the container itself. You can have both a hint and a spoiler photo by editing your existing cache page to add them! From your cache owner dashboard, access your list of published hides and edit the listings to add images to the cache gallery. Just label your photo with ‘Spoiler’!

What’s your favorite kind of hint? Tell us in the comments!

Delanie is a Content Strategist at Geocaching HQ. In her free time, she is most likely to be knitting, pining after Mt. Rainier, or trying to revive her over-watered succulents.