Where a fun geocache quest through the woods is rewarded with a bad Al Pacino movie
As we’ve mentioned before, to kids, geocaching is treasure hunting. And treasure hunting makes for a great excuse to get those kids outside, exploring the woods. Elm Bank Reservation offers a unique quest. Your geocache goal is a big final cache that you find by first finding two smaller caches that have clues to further you along the hunt.
The cache we set out to find also had the added fun of being a DVD exchange geocache. So if you head out for a treasure hunt at Elm Bank, throw one of those DVD movies that your family has tired of and plan to exchange it for one in the cache. Kids, in addition, to enjoying the quest can look forward to family movie night when you return home.
Accessing the trailhead
There’s a number of ways to get to Elm Bank, and you don’t necessarily need to own a car. It is also home to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. When you turn into the reservation, you’ll feel like you’ve discovered a secret hideaway. A one way road circles that hideaway, passing by athletic fields; the gardens of the horticultural society; and woods that border the Charles River.
On the day of our visit, there was a youth soccer tournament taking up the fields. We parked our car and had to cross the fields to make it to the trailhead. That was probably a mistake. If there wasn’t a soccer tournament a frisbee would have been good to have with us. Or even better, a kite. But on this day, with a soccer tournament taking up the fields, parking in a lot closer to the trailhead would have been a better option. And that lot does exist. The access road of Elm Bank Reservation is one big loop. Skip the first parking lot you see if you want to park closer to the trailhead.
So we set off to find the cache. Like I said we needed to find a few clues in smaller caches to end up at our final destination. The first clue was in a small cylinder hanging on the side of a big oak tree. It took us about 15 minutes of mucking around slightly off the trail to find it.
Helpful geocache hint
Move slowly when you get close to give your GPS time to adjust and increase its sensitivity. What I found in that first cache were a set of coordinates which we then used to find the second clue. Which was hard. It wasn’t a cache at all we were looking for. Just another set of coordinates painted on the side of some electrical housing. Without the “helpful hint” feature of the geocaching app we never would have found that second spot. But we did find it and it did lead us to the third and final cache. Yes, we had to use the helpful hint feature again. When we did find that cache, there were indeed a bunch of DVDs in there, including some kid friendly ones. But none of them seemed overly exciting to us. Any Given Sunday was the best of the lot. So we passed. Who the hell actually owns Any Given Sunday? The copy of Stuart Little we brought along stayed with us for another future viewing.
Daydreaming of life by the river
As mentioned, the Charles River winds around Elm Bank Reservation, essentially bordering three sides of the reservation. Walking through the woods leads you alongside the Charles, with views of riverside houses on the opposite banks. These homes, very modest looking, make you wonder what living on the river would be like. We imagined it involves kayaks and a small fishing pier.