Geocaching the Blue Hills

Armed with cell phones, GPS, and determination, we hit the Blue Hills in search of geocache gold.


Like a message in a bottle, treasure boxes have been secreted away around the world—under rocks, in hollowed-out trees, and even in sewer grates—for strangers to find. Called geocaches, these vessels range in size from test tubes to big plastic bins, and each offers an abundance of riches, of the sociological kind, that is. You never know what you’ll find inside—inspirational books, Band-Aids, drawings—but you’ll get a general idea of where they are by using the Geocaching app, which provides coordinates for treasures worldwide, within 20 to 30 feet of their location. And that’s when the hunt really begins.

We decided to try our geocaching luck in the Blue Hills, where more than 15 are hidden throughout the park. The first wasn’t hard to find: A few dozen steps from the Houghton’s Pond parking lot, up a steep, neglected path, we found a small, clear plastic box wedged under a large rock along an old stone wall. The cache was new—according to the signatures in the book nestled inside, we were just the third group to spot it. We took some pictures, closed it up, and hid it away again.

Our second quest was for Cajun’s Cache, also located relatively close to the parking lot. After three laps around a cobweb-covered boulder, we finally discovered the bin, about the size of a James Patterson novel, nestled in a crack. Inside were key chains, dog toys, a notebook, and something special: a plastic film container with the ashes of a gray greyhound named Cajun, who, according to the note in the cache, loved this area, “especially lying down in the pond to cool off on hot summer days.” He died at age 15 in March 2013. We said a prayer for Cajun and carefully returned the treasure to its hiding place for the next person to find.

Pro tip: Boston Common is home to numerous caches, but for a real adventure, hit up the Seaport, where ingenious participants have stowed their treasures in a few surprising locales.