Regional Geocaching Policies Wiki
Geocaching HQ encourages geocachers to find at least 20 geocaches before setting out to hide their own geocache.
The greater variety of geocaches that someone finds, the better they will understand how to create an enjoyable experience for other geocachers.
Find additional guidance about hiding caches in the Geocaching Help Centre. For publication, geocaches must follow the Geocaching Guidelines.
For caches placed in Ontario, Canada the items listed below also apply.
- As the Guidelines do not permit content that raises awareness, COVID-19/health related references (even if positively intentioned) should not be included in cache pages.
- Refer elsewhere in this Wiki page for reminder on Event Stacking and Capacity Limit considerations.
- Event venues may have optional vaccination, distancing and/or masking requirements; if an Event/CITO host deems it necessary to have COVID-19 reminders on their cache page, the optional text below is suggested:
|Attendees should make themselves aware of any conditions/requirements that need to be met for them to be physically present at the Event location.|
- As per the Guidelines, GPS usage is an essential element of hiding and seeking caches.
- Online maps should not be used to obtain coordinates for cache placement.
- When placing a cache, the cache owner must visit the cache location to obtain accurate coordinates with a GPS-enabled device.
- A cache must require finders to navigate with a GPS-enabled device to a set of specific coordinates necessary to find the cache.
- A cache cannot be found with clues alone (even if it is a Letterbox Hybrid cache) - if written clues are provided, they must be the secondary finding method.
- Image puzzles where a location can only be determined by a photo on the cache page are not publishable.
- If the location in a photo is to be used as part of a puzzle, there needs to be an additional information provided that allows players to determine the location (e.g. coordinates or the name of the park, etc).
- A waypoint projection from a fixed point is often a good method of ensuring adequate GPS usage.
Reviewers do not have the ability to adopt/transfer ownership of a cache page from one Player account to another.
Only the owner of an active cache page can initiate an adoption request to another Player by visiting http://www.geocaching.com/adopt .
Geocaching HQ will not process an ownership transfer of a cache page without written permission from the cache owner or their estate.
An Archive action is intended to be permanent; once Archived a cache page is no longer a candidate for adoption.
- Prior to clicking Submit For Review, post a Reviewer Note including details of your container, the hiding method and/or specifics of where/how the elements of your cache are placed.
- A Reviewer may question Difficulty and Terrain ratings if the details on the cache page (and in Reviewer Notes) do not appear to reflect the circumstances of the hide.
- Geocaching HQ provide reference articles that will assist in the determining the most appropriate Size, Difficulty and Terrain ratings for your cache page.
- When a cache is at the posted coordinates - it is typically defined as a Traditional cache. There may be situations where the Field Puzzle attribute may be appropriate.
- If the posted coordinates need to be visited in order to gain/obtain offset information (used to find the subsequent/final physical elements of a cache) - it is typically a Multi-cache.
- For caches where the posted coordinates do not need to be visited (they are "fake") - or when locating/accessing the cache requires internet access (e.g. using a webpage or "checker" to access coordinates for a redirect) it is typically a Mystery cache.
- If a Mystery cache incorporates/includes a puzzle element, the solution/explanation of how to solve the puzzle needs to be included in a Reviewer Note.
- A physical cache that contains a stamp may be listed as Letterbox Hybrid cache; text such as "This cache contains a stamp that is not a trade item" should be included in the cache page to assist the Reviewer and potential finders.
- Without exception, if a Wherigo cartridge is used with a cache - it must be the Wherigo cache type - and the cache page must have a corresponding link to a unique cartridge file that is located/hosted on Wherigo.com .
- A Bonus cache is always the Mystery Cache type. Bonus cache coordinates that are revealed by finding clues or coordinates in other caches or (an Adventure Lab).
- EarthCaches in Ontario are not Reviewed by the Ontario Reviewer Team - they are handled by our awesome colleague, geoawareCA.
On May 25th 2016, Geocaching HQ announced the end of the moratorium on Challenge Caches in the Geocaching Blog.
Items listed below with bullet points are direct quotes from the Geocaching HQ articles above; text in bold has been provided by the Ontario Reviewer Team as clarification.
"Challenge cache owners must demonstrate that there are plenty of qualifying caches to meet the challenge at the time of publication."
"If only a few people can find and log a challenge cache, then it’s almost like a private cache. (And private caches aren’t permitted on the website)."
If there are a limited/restrictive number of qualifying caches available for a Challenge cache, it may not be Guidelines compliant.Similarly, Challenges that rely on one-time Events and Awards (such as Souvenirs that can no longer be acquired) may not be Guidelines compliant.
Challenge cache owners must show that they have met the challenge".
“A challenge cache needs to appeal to and be attainable by a reasonable number of cachers. Your reviewer may ask for a list of cachers from your area who qualify."
The Ontario Reviewer Team consider the "reasonable number of cachers" to be 10 (in addition to the cache owner); they should be based within Ontario.
"The container must be placed at coordinates on the listing, either as posted coordinates, or as a visible additional waypoint."
The coordinates of a container for a Challenge cache must be visible on the cache page; Challenge caches cannot have a puzzle element or hidden waypoints.
"Difficulty rating (should) be based on the challenge, the terrain rating on the challenge cache location."
The terrain rating of a Challenge cache should be rated as if it were a Traditional cache in the same location.
"Challenge caches published after April 21, 2015 must include a link to a web-based challenge checker. At this time, Project-GC is the only website approved to host challenge checkers."
All Challenge caches must have a unique Project-GC challenge checker, even if qualification can be verified by visiting the profile page/statistics of a Player.
Proof of qualification in a log (e.g. GC codes or bookmarks of qualifiers) should not be requested for a Challenge cache published after April 21, 2015.
The onus is on the cache owner to verify those who log the cache as found have met the qualifying requirements, using the Project-GC Challenge Checker.
"Challenge caches are sometimes difficult to review for publication due to the subjectivity involved. Meaning, one person’s opinion can differ from another's, which can cause issues in the review process.
One of the goals of the 2016 guideline update for challenge caches was to reduce some of that subjectivity. However, we can’t completely remove subjectivity from the process."
The Ontario Reviewer Team strives to be consistent with Reviews for cache pages in Ontario.
The approach to Reviews is considered to be "provincial", not "regional" - as the arbitrary definition of a region/area can be subjective.
“Please do not submit a challenge cache in an area where a very similar or identical challenge cache already exists.”
Challenge caches may need to be relocated if another Challenge cache is noted to be within 50km, as measured by Google Maps shortest driving route.
“Challenge caches must be listed as Mystery caches, must have the English word "challenge" in the title, and must include the challenge cache attribute."
Project-GC is a third-party partner of Geocaching HQ; their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page will answer many questions that relate to Challenge Checkers.
Project-GC host a forum where Challenge Checkers can be requested - the Project-GC Challenge Checker development/tagging does not involve Reviewers!
Project-GC request that every Challenge Checker have a unique "tag" that matches the GC code of the cache – for more information, click here.
"Challenge cache owners are integral to the success of this framework. It’s important that they work within these guidelines in order to reduce the burden that reviewers felt prior to the moratorium. If after a period of evaluation, we find that a lot of the pre-moratorium issues are still causing problems, then we’ll know that this new framework isn’t the answer. We don’t have a backup plan. The only remaining option would be to not permit challenge caches as they currently exist."
The Ontario Reviewer Team are optimistic with regards to working through the revised Challenge Cache framework, alongside the Ontario geocaching community.
The Geocaching Guidelines are revised by Geocaching HQ from time to time. With your constructive feedback - the Ontario Reviewer Team can not only provide Geocaching HQ with information for future Geocaching Guidelines consideration - we can hopefully improve our own approaches and processes, also.
It is recommended you determine the coordinates for your intended placement(s) before you hide any physical containers/items.
Create a "placeholder" cache page; enter your intended placement coordinates (don't forget Additional Waypoints), and then post a Reviewer Note such as "Cache not in place, please check coordinates".
- Ensure you have clicked Submit For Review on your cache page only when you wish your cache page to enter the Reviewer queue.
If there are any Geocaching Guidelines issues with your intended coordinates you will be notified and your cache page will be Disabled by the Reviewer.
Coordinates that are unavailable cannot be reserved.
If you relocate your placement, use the Edit link on the right of the cache page to update your coordinates.
Submit For Review again - the Reviewer will again check to determine if everything is Geocaching Guidelines compliant.
If a Land Management Policy is on record for your cache location, the Reviewer will refer you to the appropriate Land Manager Permission Process.
Cache pages should not include recommendations, refer to venue features or emphasize available menu items as this could be interpreted as being promotional/commercial.
A simple sentence such as "Food and drink are available" will ensure Attendees know when there are options.
(Note: If Attendees have questions regarding an Event or what is offered at a venue, they always have the option to contact the Event Host via their Profile Page).
Event/CITO cache pages should:
Be listed with a Difficulty rating of 1.
Be listed with a Terrain rating of 1 if they are wheelchair accessible.
Be listed with a fixed start time and end time that appears in the descriptive text.
Be submitted for review at least 14 days prior to the event date (21 days is preferable).
Include a social element, coordinated by the cache owner (who will also maintain the cache page and logs).
Be open to all who can attend - if there is a limit to the number of seats/space is limited, those who wish to simply drop-in at the Event coordinates to be recognized by the host (and not stay) are also eligible to log the event.
Be static and listed with fixed ice surface/land based coordinates.
Event/CITO cache pages should not:
Require a log book - if a log book is mentioned, it should be clear that it is optional as there are no requirement to sign a log book at an event.
Contain commercial, promotional or agenda implied content.
Endorse or provide opinions regarding the quality of a venue or its offerings.
Purposefully restrict the number of attendees who can Attend the event.
Be created to bring cachers to an existing event/gathering that would already be occurring if the event was not published on the Geocaching website.
Be scheduled on the same day as a local/regional Mega/GIGA event.
Be held near transportation centres such as airports, cruise ship terminals or train stations.
Event/CITO cache pages may:
Mention the name of the event location (e.g. restaurant name) in the descriptive text of the cache page, not the cache page title.
Include non-specific text indicating that food/beverages are optionally available at an event location.
Include a link to an ad-free webpage or geocaching profile page where additional event information is provided.
Include references only to trackables being available for sale if the trackables are specifically created for the event and they are trackable on the Geocaching.com website.
Focus on teaching opportunities for the specific Geocaching API partners, GSAK and Project-GC.
A CITO ("Cache In Trash Out") event should focus on the improvement parks and cache-friendly places; appropriate CITO activities include:
Removing garbage from a designated area.
Removal of invasive species.
If local laws/safety guidelines require that attendee information be collected, please refer to Geocaching HQ's "Collecting Event Attendee Information" Knowledgebase Article.
"Event Stacking" occurs when an attempt is made to host multiple events/CITOs in relative proximity (in location and time).
If an Event is scheduled within 2 hours of another Event, there should be a distance of at least 32km between them (measured as the crow flies).
e.g. If an Event runs from 4PM to 7PM, any other Event less than 32km away should end no later than two hours before (2PM) or begin no earlier than two hours after (9PM).
- It is recommended to check the upcoming Event Caches in Ontario by clicking here.
For this reason, the 2-hour window and 32km crow-flies approach has been implemented. In comparison, the UK Reviewer Team approach to Event Stacking requires at least 10 hours between different Events.
If a cache page is promoting another Event Cache, it cannot encourage the logging of Will Attends; this includes references such as "Don't forget to log your Will Attend".
"Any mention of an event in a non-Event cache must be limited to one singular sentence similar to: this cache has been placed for the [insert name of Event here], placed at the bottom of the long description"
The Ontario Reviewer Team currently considers exceptions to this guidance by specifically allowing the singular sentence to include the name, date and start time of an event in a non-Event cache page with text such as "This This cache was placed with the intention of being found for event/occasion on date/time". There should however be no implication of there being any penalty for those who choose to find/log a cache as soon as it has been Published as Published means ready to be found. It is also possible to make a Future Publish Request so that a cache is Published on a specific date.
Cache pages that are requested to be Published on a specific date should be Submitted for Review at least 14 days in advance with an explanatory Reviewer Note.
- If a series/multiple caches are to be Published concurrently, be sure to include the GC codes for ALL caches in the series along with each cache in a Reviewer Note.
Requests for morning/afternoon/evening Publish on a particular date may be possible - however timing cannot be guaranteed.
A low Health Score provides an indication that the cache may need attention from the owner.
The goal is to improve the overall geocaching experience and avoid frustrations due to missing or broken caches.
The algorithm isn't perfect; it cannot read and interpret the text within a cache page - however it does take the following aspects of a page into consideration:
Did Not Find logs(DNF)
Needs Maintenance logs (NM)
Needs Archived logs (NA)
Last find date
Difficulty and terrain rating
If the Health Score of a cache is calculated below a dynamic threshold, an automatic alert email is sent to the cache owner by Geocaching HQ.
Neither Geocaching HQ or the Community Volunteer Reviewer can assess the status of a cache; it is the responsibility of the cache owner, as part of cache maintenance.
If a cache page has posted DNFs - and the cache owner knows that the cache is in definitely in place - they should reassure the community by posting a Note log.
e.g. "There have been a few DNFs, however it is a clever hide! I checked on it this morning. Check the hint!"
If a Community Volunteer Reviewer does not see a response from a cache owner on their cache page after DNF/Maintenance Requests, it may be Disabled.
If a cache owner knows with certainty that their cache is in place and ready to be found, they may Enable the cache page, with an explanatory note.
If a cache owner is unable to definitively confirm the status of their cache, the cache page should remain Disabled and a Maintenance visit should be scheduled.
An Owner Maintenance log should only be posted after a maintenance visit has occurred.
Only when a cache is confirmed to be in place and ready to be found should a cache page be Enabled.
The number of "false positives" flagged with this process are minimal compared to the number of abandoned caches that this process will remove from the game.
Be sure to provide the coordinates of your physical placement(s) and your listing GC code to the site/property/land manager.
Coordinates should be provided in DD MM.MMM or "GPS notation" - they should look similar to N??° ??.??? W0??° ??.??? (where ?s are digits from 0 to 9).
If permission is granted, request that the authority providing permission send a confirmation e-mail to email@example.com :
The permission e-mail must originate from the authority or agency responsible for the site/property.
The e-mail must contain the GC code of the relevant cache page.
The e-mail must include coordinates of ALL physical placements (e.g. permission is needed for each physical stage of a multi-cache).
To avoid typographical errors, scanned images and photographs of permits should be avoided.
Once permission confirmation is received, CacheDrone will paste the text of the permission e-mail on the cache page in a Reviewer Note.
At this point you should make sure your cache is in place and the details on the cache page are accurate and ready to go!
When your cache page is ready to be seen by a Reviewer click Submit for Review.
A Reviewer Note can help increase the efficiency of your Review; tell your Reviewer... How is the cache hidden? What type of container was used? Is it ready to be Published?
Last updated 28/June/2022
Bruce Trail Conservancy
Inquiries may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject ATTN: BTC Ecologist
Canada Post Corporation
Placements on Canada Post property (e.g. mailboxes) can be considered mail tampering which is a Federal Offense.
Permission from local Postmaster would be required.
Catfish Creek Conservation Authority
No geocaches permitted
City of Hamilton
Due to City permission and liability concerns, some caches within Hamilton (e.g. "Tree climb caches") may require additional permission confirmation.
City of London - Ecologically Significant Areas
Geocaching is indirectly prohibited as per Linda McDougall - Ecologist - Environmental & Parks Planning
Grand River Conservation Authority
The GRCA oversee ~20,000 hectares of holdings across Ontario.
As of August 2020 - Reviewers will only Publish caches within the follow GRCA designated parks, as per GRCA policy :
Belwood Lake, Conestogo Lake, Rockwood, Brant, Elora Gorge, Pinehurst Lake, Byng Island, Guelph Lake, Shade's Mills and Laurel Creek.
Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Railbed
Access to former GTP railbed (including Flett Tunnel) is now governed by Wagner Forest Management.
A permit is required to use/access the former railway bed and various surrounding properties.
No specific geocaching placement permits have been given by Wagner Forest Management (as of Nov 2019).
Hamilton Conservation Authority
Lower Trent Conservation
Nature Conservancy of Canada (Ontario)
Niagara Parks Commission
Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority
Permission is rarely given and must be obtained from the Park Superintendent for the specific property/site.
rare Charitable Research Reserve
This is now under the jurisdiction of Parks Canada (see above)
Royal Botanical Gardens
Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
Note: This policy only applies to lands owned and managed by TRCA.
If a cache is Archived due to a permissions issue, ongoing logging of the Archived cache may be viewed negatively by the Land Manager/Property Manager.
If a Land Manager/Property Manager does not provide permission for a cache placement, the cache owner should arrange to retrieve all elements of the cache as promptly as possible.
Natural gas tanks/meters, hydro-electric transformers, electrical substations, transmission towers and equipment with warning signage should be considered off-limits locations for cache hides.
Canada Post Mailboxes, Super Mailboxes and all Canada Post properties should be considered off-limits locations for cache hides, unless written permission can be provided by the Postmaster.
On/off ramps and roads/highways that only permit emergency stopping are not intended to be accessed by pedestrians; they are off-limits locations for accessing and hiding caches.
Schools, playgrounds, daycare centres, airports and other locations where unexplained objects and/or visitors may be misinterpreted as security risks should also be avoided.
Cache pages should not include/impose restrictions (e.g. "Do not find this/this cache should not be found until after date/time") on when a cache is ready to be found.
If you do not wish your cache to be found until a certain date, a Future Publish Request may be requested (see above).
You may choose to include positively worded text on your cache page, such as: "This was placed with the intention of being found for event/occasion on date/time".
The Rail Safety Group of Transport Canada regulates the railway industry in Canada.
Section 26.1 of the Railway Safety Act makes it an offense to trespass on any railway lands in Canada.
Caches that require access to and/or are situated near railway lines may be subject to additional scrutiny during the Review process.
Cache pages should not include content that promotes the acquisition of social media channel subscribers/followers as this would be promoting an agenda/highlighting a cause.
Linked media content on a cache page should be relevant to that specific cache.
Geocaching HQ requires that cache pages that have links to social media groups also include a disclaimer; "As the geocache owner, I ensure that this links to a local geocaching group that is active in the community and contributing to geocaching in positive ways. This link has not been checked by Geocaching HQ or by the reviewer."
All physical caches (Traditional, Multicache, Letterbox, Puzzle/Mystery and Wherigo) should be minimally comprised of a container and a log.
Containers should be watertight and suitable to survive the hot/cold temperature extremes of Ontario.
During Review, If a new cache is found to have proximity issues to another unpublished ("Work In Progress") cache page, various factors are considered.
An existing Work In Progress cache page may be ignored by the Reviewer if it appears it was not Geocaching Guidelines compliant at the time of the last known update.
If six months or more has passed since the last posted log from the cache owner on a Work In Progress cache page, it will be ignored or archived.
If 3 months or more have passed since the last posted log from the cache owner of a Work In Progress cache page, a Reviewer will request that an Reviewer Note be posted within 7-14 days, confirming that the cache page will soon be submitted for review.
If a cache owner does not respond to a Reviewer action requesting an update, a Work In Progress cache page may be ignored or archived.
If a Work In Progress cache page is less than 3 months old, it is considered active.
If a cache owner is informed their intended location is unavailable due to a Work In Progress cache page nearby, they will need to relocate their hide and update their cache page accordingly.
* This page is always a work in progress. Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. May contain traces of nuts. Do not use for drying pets. Leakage is neither expected or warrantied. For external use, only.
Updates may be sent to CacheShadow
June 28th 2022 - Updated GRCA wording
May 3rd 2022 - Updated various permission links
April 17th 2022 - Updated London ESA links
March 21st 2022 - Updated Events/CITO guidance
February 14th 2022 - Updated Events/CITO guidance
January 15th 2022 - Updated COVID guidance
October 25th 2021 - Updated COVID guidance and Souvenir validity for Challenges
October 6th 2021 - Added Catfish Creek Conservation Authority policy
July 16th 2021 - Updated Event/CITO references for Ontario's Step 3 Reopening
July 12th 2021 - Added hyperlinks to Event/CITO references for Guidelines/Help Centre
July 11th 2021 - Updated Event/CITO guidance
July 1st 2021 - Added GPS Usage section.
June 1st 2021 - Updated COVID guidance and added URLs to Help Centre/Guidelines for several articles
April 8th 2021 - Updated COVID guidance
March 26th 2021 - Updated COVID guidance
March 1st 2021 - Updated cache type/Multi/Mystery/Traditional guidance
February 23rd 2021 - Updated COVID guidance
January 12th 2021 : Updated COVID guidance
January 11th 2021 : Added City of Hamilton for land manager/permission considerations
January 3rd 2021 : Highlighted HQ's requirement for Challenge Cache attribute
November 10th 2020: Updated wording for permission process
October 4th 2020: Updated COVID-19 Response to add info regarding agenda based content
August 28th 2020: Updated GRCA land management details
August 1st 2020 : Updated Rouge Park land management and TRCA land management policy links
July 16th 2020 : Updated Crown Land text in CITO Phased Approach
July 14th 2020 : CITO Phased Approach Posted
May 24th 2020 : Updated Rouge Park and TRCA website links
May 19th 2020 : Pre-Reviews for Ontario resuming
May 17th 2020 : COVID-19 Response - section update - version 7
April 14th 2020 : Updated text to include Geocaching HQ provided URLs
March 23rd 2020 : Updated Community First text for all cache Reviews
March 16th 2020 : Added Community First text for Events
December 6th 2019 : Added example text
December 1st 2019 : More flexible and definitive Event stacking approach
November 11th 2019 : Revised Land Manager text for Wagner Forest Management
April 2nd 2019 : Updated Social text
March 7th 2019 : Updated Event text
February 15th 2019 : Updated Social Media clarification and Event text
January 14th 2019 : Updated policy information for RARE
June 13th 2018 : Added Social Media clarification with updated guidance from Geocaching HQ
April 21st 2018 : Updated Niagara Parks URL
February 23rd 2018 : Updated Work In Progress Text
January 3rd 2018 : Modified with updated guidance from Geocaching HQ regarding event promotion
December 8th 2017 : Modified to refer to Geocaching Guidelines vs Listing Guidelines; modified to refer to Cache Pages vs. Cache Listings
August 16th 2017 : Updated London ESA info, Quick Links for Favourites/Events
June 13th 2017 : Updated URL for GRCA
Apr 2nd 2017 : Added text regarding similar/identical Challenge caches
Feb 10th 2017 : Project-GC and GSAK related events are now publishable, as per Geocaching HQ!
Feb 14th 2017 : Added direction that CITOs should not be side events for Mega/Giga events
Mar 3rd 2017 : Added section on Health Score
Mar 6th 2017 - Updated TRCA link