Top Ten Kentucky Geocaches

HerKentucky welcomes our good friend Jessica Lotz for a special guest post about geocaching Kentucky. Jess lives just outside St. Louis, MO with her husband, toddler son, and 5-year old dog, Cooper. After a successful 13 year career in health care administration, Jessica quit her job in November 2011 to answer life's next calling as a stay-at-home mom. Jesssica likes football on Sundays and cruises to just about anywhere. Although she's lived throughout the U.S. courtesy of the Air Force, Kentucky really is her second home. -- HCW

One of the many things I enjoy about HerKentucky is its ability to introduce readers to places, historic or trendy, that we may not have experienced otherwise. Whether through HerKentucky’s 60 Things Project or because of the passion of its contributors, it's not unusual for me to add new places to visit, businesses to support, and adventures to experience to my Kentucky Bucket List on a nearly weekly basis. As an adopted Kentuckian, I appreciate learning about it all.

In that respect, HerKentucky is much like geocaching. Geocaching, an outdoor recreational activity in which participants use GPS enabled devices to find hidden containers or caches, began in 2000 and since then has attracted hundreds of thousands of loyal cachers who have hidden over 1.6 million caches throughout the world. Caches range in size from nano (the size of a screw) to large (ammo box), and can be traditional caches (a physical treasure), virtual (no actual cache, but rather a site you’re visiting, usually for historical purposes), or Earth caches (think Mammoth Cave). Some caches can be located rather quickly (within minutes of arriving at the coordinates) while others can take hours (particularly if hiking/repelling/kayaking is involved).

My Geocaching hobby actually began in Kentucky. While visiting the in-laws over Christmas one year, I stumbled across something regarding geocaching. I started researching it online and within 30 minutes, I had my entire family outside looking for a cache in the park behind my husband’s childhood home. Using my sister-in-law’s iPhone, we quickly found the cache and immediately wanted to see where the next closest one was located. That’s how easy it is to get started.

Since then, geocaching has become a lifestyle for us. We love it because it gets us outside (year round), it's an activity our 2.5 year old son enjoys with us and we usually take care of Mother Earth while we’re at it (a practice known as CITO, or Cache In, Trash Out).

And, just like HerKentucky, it takes us to places we would not have otherwise visited or seen. Honestly, that’s my favorite part about geocaching. While I enjoy the fresh air and spending time with my little family, ultimately what gets me off the couch is knowing that we’re about to visit somewhere beautiful, unique or historically significant. 
Falls of the Ohio in Southern Indiana
Not surprisingly, many fabulous geocaches call Kentucky home. I recently spent some time researching them and compiled a list of 10 which I feel are worth a look:

1)    “Tom Sawyer” Traditional cache. Placed back in 2001, it ranks as Kentucky’s oldest and second most favored cache by those who have found it. Located in E.P. “Tom” Sawyer Park in Louisville.  Just as I was about to walk across the stage at my college graduation, someone placed this cache in a park mere minutes from where my future husband lived. Nearly 12 years later, almost 900 people have found this cache! How am I not one of them? This cache is top on my to-do list during my next trip to KY.

2)    “76 Falls” Traditional cache. Placed 10/17/2004. Located about 2.5 hours south of Lexington, on the south side of Lake Cumberland. Requires a hike, but pictures posted by other cachers are absolutely beautiful. Nature at its finest.
The view from 76 Falls geocache location
3)    “Kentucky Floral Clock” Virtual cache. Placed 1/3/2003. Located in Frankfort, KY. From the description: “There are other flower clocks in the world-one in Canada at Niagara Falls, some in Europe, and smaller ones in the United States. Kentucky's is unique because it keeps time over a pool of water instead of resting on a bank of earth. The face of the giant clock is 34 feet across. The planter that holds it weighs 100 tons. Dedicated in 1961, the floral clock was a project of the Commonwealth and the Garden Club of Kentucky. It takes more than 10,000 plants to fill the clock. All are grown in the Commonwealth's own greenhouses near the Capitol. Coins from the pool are used to benefit young people in Kentucky.” Best viewed in the spring and summer.

4)    “Reflections” Virtual cache. Placed 9/19/2002. Located in downtown Louisville. Ranked as the #1 geocache in the state. A very cleverly designed cache which takes you on a brief walking tour of downtown. Using the glass buildings, the cacher must look for reflections to get clues of how to proceed to the next point in the cache. Comments from those who have done this cache: “It was fun identifying the different buildings and making our way to them. We spent a lot of extra time just admiring the architecture and seeing different things in the downtown area” and “What an awesome cache. Had some time before catching our plane back home to Colorado and this was at the top of our list to do. We certainly were NOT disappointed. Fun, fun, fun. Got a nice walking tour of the town and even spotted a place to have lunch. Thanks so much.”

5)    “Gatti Land(ing)” Traditional cache. Placed 12/31/2006. Located in Pikeville, KY. It’s highly rated for its creativity (meaning the cache container or location is pretty cool). Historically, the site of the cache is now a popular pizza joint, but was once home to Valley Airport. Comments by those who have found this cache rave about how creatively designed this cache is....another on the top of my to-do list.
A very creatively hidden (inside a wooden log) geocache found in Florida.

6)    “Cache Across America- Kentucky.” Traditional cache. Placed 8/24/2006 as part of the Cache Across America Series. Located at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY. Any geocachers trying to complete the Cache Across America challenge must find this specific cache in order to qualify. This cache has likely been found by more out-of-staters than Kentuckians due to the nature of the cache.

7)    “Holy Overlook”. Traditional cache. Placed 11/21/2005. Located in Wickcliffe, KY (about 30 miles West of Paducah), this site is apparently very beautiful with an incredible view of the Mississippi River. Another highly rated cache. 

8)    “DOWN Town.” Traditional cache. Placed 5/27/2003. Located in Horse Cave, KY (about 80 miles South of Louisville, East of Mommoth Cave). From the description: “The town, which formed around the cave in the mid 1800's, once sustained a thriving tourist trade. Visitors arrived by the train load to see the natural wonder, once billed as the "World's Largest Cave Entrance". By the 1940's, pollution had cut off not only the drinking water but also the streams of tourists the cave attracted. The cave's restoration in 1993 was one of the most remarkable environmental success stories in America and a breath of fresh air for Horse Cave. Today, Horse Cave, Kentucky is a constant reminder of the delicate balance between caves and the sunlit world above.”

9)    “Vampire U- Fact or Fiction” Traditional cache. Placed 9/28/2011. Located in Lexington, KY. For all of the Transylvania Alumni! From the description: “Old Morrison, the only campus building at the time, was completed in 1833, under the supervision of Henry Clay, who both taught law and was a member of Transylvania's Board.”

10)     “Dead Men Don’t Cache” Virtual Cache. Placed 8/12/2012. Located in Lexington, KY. For all of the UK basketball fans. From the description: “The location of this virtual cache is nationally recognized as one of "America's most beautiful arboretums.” If you haven’t visited this grave, can you really call yourself a C-A-T-S fan?

Geocaching can be reduced to a mere hobby where folks use expensive GPS equipment to locate tupperware containers hidden in the woods. While that may be true, the other reality is that it also encourages participants to explore nature, delve into local history, and spurs commerce as people will sometimes drive 2-3 hours off course during a road trip just to snag a specific cache.

Three things are certain in my life: death, taxes and if there’s good weather on the weekend, you’ll find my little family, including our 5 year old dog, Cooper, outside geocaching.
A fellow and his dogs find King Kong's Log cache just south of Louisville. Coop would love this one!