Geocaching trail proposed for Dexter downtown, parks
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The Village of Dexter is considering the creation of a geocaching trail that would start in its downtown and wind through its seven parks.
“Geocaching is a sort of high-tech treasure hunt in which participants look for a container, said Mike Steklac of Chelsea, who is an avid geocacher or ‘Geoaddict.’
He said worldwide, there are about 1.2 million active geocaches, and more than 500 in Washtenaw County alone.
“It’s a family friendly sport with people from toddlers to 90-year-olds actively geocaching,” he said.
Allison Bishop, Dexter’s community development director, said the village is "trying to find ways to get people to Dexter and into the parks.”
And that’s exactly what this hobby brings to an area, Steklac said. “It benefits the community through tourism and it brings people into areas and parks that they normally wouldn’t visit.”
He said people will visit friends and relatives in other cities and states and geocache.
“It takes you to places that are unique, historical and beautiful,” he said.
Plus, the hobby gets people outside and walking and doesn’t cause harm to the environment because although they must be waterproof, geocaches aren’t buried.
There are already eight caches in the village limits, Steklac said, and they’ve been there for quite some time.
“There’s been one in Warrior Creek Park since 2003,” he said, and another in Forest Lawn Cemetery.
While searching for the one in the Dexter cemetery, Steklac said he learned that Calvin Fillmore, brother of President Millard Fillmore, was buried there.
So how does he know this? Geocachers go to a website where they can find the coordinates for a cache that they program into a GPS unit.
In Chelsea, he says, there are about 46 caches within the city limits and he’s responsible for several of them.
Steklac said the Huron River Watershed Council participated in placing a series of 22 caches in and along the Huron River from the Proud Lake Recreation Area to Lake Erie.
There was one in the water and people would take canoes out to find it, he said.
In addition, the Huron River Watershed Council placed cards inside the cache that told the history of the area and things to look out for on the river, he said.
“I like local history so I’ve done a number of those,” Steklac said.
When geocachers find a cache, they sign into a website and log it. There is even a Michigan organization that provides information on the hobby.
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According to the Dexter proposal, there would be seven geocaches along a 2.1 mile trail. Planners estimate that it would take about two hours total to find the caches.
The village’s Parks and Recreation Department has proposed a $400 budget for the trail but needs Village Council approval before it can go forward. The budget year runs from July 1 through June 30 and it’s been proposed for next year’s budget, so if approved, the plan wouldn’t be implemented until fall, Bishop said.
Part of the proposal includes purchasing geocoins, a popular prize given geocachers who complete a trail.
The geocache containers can range in size from pill-size to much larger, Steklac said.
A typical geocache contains a tradable item called a “swag” that geocachers swap out when they find a cache. Steklac, who has more than 1,000 finds, began the sport on Jan. 4, 2006.
“It’s a fairly new hobby, sport, obsession, whatever you’d like to call it, for people,” he said.
Lisa Allmendinger is a regional reporter for AnnArbor.com. She can be reached at email@example.com. For more Dexter stories, visit our Dexter page.