Minnesota FAQ

Q - I have a general Geocaching question
A - The intention of this FAQ is more specific to MN. General questions should refer to: http://www.geocaching.com/guide/

Q - Are there places in MN I can try geocaching?
A - Hyland Park does have GPSs available on a check out basis for the geocaches in their park: http://www.threeriversparks.org/parks/hyland-lake-park/hyland-visitor-ce...
A - Some MN state parks have GPS units that can be checked out: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/geocaching/demo_parks.html

Q - What are the land use conflicts with geocaching?
A - The placer of the geocache is responsible to obtain permission to place a geocache from the land owner. The geocache reviewers do NOT check the placement.

Outdoor activities in Minnesota geocachers should be aware of:
1. Hunting - Hunting is possible in MN from September to February. You should check the DNR website for specific information (http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/regulations/hunting/index.html). If there is a metro hunt scheduled you should treat that as a reservation and geocache somewhere else. If a cache is on private hunting land - read the description carefully. Open hunting land is available for hiking during hunting season but wear bright orange and be very respectful of hunters. It is against the law to interfer with a hunter.
2. Cross Country Skiing - Groomed trails are reserved for cross country skiers by law. Do NOT walk on, across, or within 6 feet of a groomed cross country ski trail.
3. ATV Trails and Snowmobile Trails - It is not advisable to hike on these unless specifically stated it is legal
4. Horseback trails - Designated Horseback trails are reserved for horseback riding by law. Do NOT hike on these unless hiking is allowed by signage.
5. Biking Trails - Most biking trails allow hiking

Q - Are there plants in MN geocachers should be aware of?
A - Avoid these plants:
1. Poison Ivy - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxicodendron_radicans
2. Wild Parsnip - http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialplants/herbaceous/wildpa...
3. Nettles - http://www.minnesotawildflowers.info/flower/stinging-nettle

Q - Are there animals to avoid in MN geocachers should be aware of?
A - These are the most notable:
1. Mosquitoes (http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/dtopics/mosquitoborne/)
2. Ticks (http://www.cdc.gov/features/stopticks/)
3. Geese - Canada Geese can be aggressive near their offspring
4. Bears
5. Wolves
6. Rattle snakes - typically bluff regions only

Q - MN specific activities geocachers enjoy?
A - Some to be aware of:
WNC (Week Night Caching) - these are announced on the MNGCA forum and are open. If you are new to geocaching this is a good way to meet people.
MNGCA events - These are typically announced on the forum and published as an event cache. They are open events.
Event Caches - These are published event caches on geocaching.cpm and are open.

Q - How dog friendly is MN?
A - Leashed dogs are allowed in MN State Parks. Cities do vary but most do allow dogs in their parks. If you want a specific city's policies you should check the city's webpage.

Q - Special SWAG considerations in MN geocaches?
A1 - General SWAG guidelines can be found on geocaching.com. MN will experience freezing temperatures so SWAG items that can freeze should be avoided. The most notable here is pens.
A2 - Food should never be left as SWAG - animals will find it (and probably destroy the cache in the process). In general anything that goes in your mouth is probably a bad idea.

Q - Any logging etiquette geocachers should be aware of?
A1 - If a cache needs the attention of a reviewer, a "Needs Archived" log must be used. This should only be used if there is reason to believe the cache is in gross violation of Groundspeak rules, is placed in violation of law or requires a finder to break the law to find the cache (such as trespassing), or the cache is known to be missing and abandoned by the cache owner. (Use this with caution! Not finding a cache is definitely not the same as knowing it to be missing. Also, Groundspeak rules and regional laws for placement can change over time, as a result there may be a very few, rare exceptions. Having said this, trespassing is never okay, and all illegally placed caches should be brought to the attention of the local reviewer.)
A2 - You are encouraged to log more than "TFTC". Not to imply that thanks aren't appreciated but everyone loves reading about deer sightings, the reason you chose to cache here, who you were caching with, milestones achieved at this cache, or any amusing anecdotes on the hunt. Take a few moments to share your experience with others.
A3 - Try not to spoil the fun for others. Don't post photos of, or log details about, a unique cache container or any specifics of the actual hide location. Logs often contain vague and useful hints, but be cautious of making comments that give the hide away too readily. (Example: Say "I needed to improvise a tool of the trade (TOTT) and was able to make the grab" do NOT say "I found a long stick with a forked end which enabled me to lift it down off of that limb").
A4 - Logs should be encouraging to the cache owner as well as other players, and never overly critical. Constructive critique, as well as genuine concerns should be addressed via a private message—unless you are intending to warn other cache hunters of an immediate concern in the cache area, i.e., insects, construction, dangerous conditions (flooding, mudslides, sinkholes, and the like), etc.
A5 - If there is a problem with a cache that you cannot solve (container damaged, cache is obviously missing, etc.), and you cannot make the fix yourself, post a Needs Maintenance. This will alert the CO and other cachers to the problem.
A6 - Photos can be great additions to a log as long as they don't give too much away.

Q - When can I hide a cache?
A1 - Groundspeak will allow to you hide a cache whenever you want as long as it meet the placement guidelines (http://www.geocaching.com/about/guidelines.aspx). In general it is recommended to wait until you have found a wide variety of caches before hiding one yourself so you are comfortable with the many nuances of hiding a cache.
A2 - The cache owner is responsible to make sure they have permission from the land owner to make a hide. County property tax websites and city parks and recreation websites are generally the quickest way to determine ownership and local geocache placement rules.

This is a work in progress. Please post to this thread with suggestions.