Berkeley County is an international destination for geocaching—a GPS-assisted treasure hunt game.
Every kid grows up with fantasies of finding buried treasure. We dream of being like Indiana Jones or Jim Hawkins in Treasure Island. It’s so disappointing to discover grown-up life is mostly devoid of opportunities for derring–do. There are no treasure maps, quicksand pits, or Xs marking the spot.
But all is not lost. Hidden treasure is really out there, and all you need to find it is a set of coordinates and a GPS device.
Marks the Spot
Welcome to the world of geocaching, a popular hobby where would-be treasure hunters use GPS to track down “caches” that other geocachers have hidden away. As it turns out, West Virginians have one of the country’s geocaching hotspots right in our backyard.
The Martinsburg–Berkeley County Convention and Visitors Bureau will unveil its newest geocaching trail, dubbed “Berkeley Gadgets,” on June 8, 2019. The trail includes 18 caches scattered across Berkeley County. If geocachers find at least 16 of the 18, they can return to the Convention and Visitors Bureau to receive a limited-edition coin.
Dedicated geocachers plan entire vacations around trails and tours they hope to complete. Berkeley County’s trails have drawn visitors from as far away as Austria, Australia, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Which is why, in addition to the new trail, the CVB is also debuting the Berkeley Gadgets GeoTour. This provides dedicated geocachers with an even bigger challenge—to claim victory, participants must find all 18 caches on the trail, plus 32 more caches around the county.
The Berkeley Gadgets GeoTour is the first GeoTour in West Virginia.
Our Own Captain Kidd
Part of Berkeley County’s geocaching appeal comes from its resident cache-maker, Tim Eggleston. Best known by his online handle WVTim, Eggleston is a celebrity in the geocaching community and often travels to conferences nationwide to deliver keynote speeches. He’s been creating geocaches for the CVB since 2013 and has created some of the nation’s most popular caches.
While some caches can be pretty rudimentary—a box that’s hidden away in a difficult-to-find spot, with a small treasure and logbook inside—Eggleston’s work takes the game to another level. His caches are usually easy to find but they require some serious brainpower to open. “It’s in plain sight, but to open it you have to use your puzzle skills,” says CVB spokeswoman Samantha Cronk. “We’ve had people spend one to two hours at a single cache trying to figure out how to open it. People love the challenge.”
Should you get stuck, it’s OK to phone a friend. Eggleston put his personal phone number on each one. “You can call him and he’ll give you little hints,” Cronk says.
Geocaching isn’t just a summertime activity. The geocaches are available year ’round. But Cronk says that won’t stop the most dedicated geocachers from trying to complete the new trail on Day One. “There are people whose goal is to be the first to find a cache.”
Gotta Cache ‘Em All
Ready to tackle the Berkeley Gadgets geocaching trails? Here’s a basic how-to.
- Sign up for a premium account on geocaching.com. For just $9.99 for three months—or $29.99 a year—the website and connected smartphone app provides coordinates for all of Berkeley County’s caches. Users also get a public profile to show off their finds.
- Get a GPS device. Chances are, there’s already one in your pocket. Smartphones’ GPS functions are more than sophisticated enough for geocaching. Just download the free Geocaching app.
- Using the app or website, search for the “Berkeley Gadgets” trail. Use the coordinates to begin your hunt. Although the caches are numbered, you can complete them in any order you’d like.
- Once you’ve found the cache and solved the puzzle to open it, record the codeword inside in a notebook. The CVB offers special passport logbooks at its main office (126 East Race Street, Martinsburg) and the north- and south-bound welcome centers off Interstate 81 to log your codes.
- Put the cache back the way you found it. Now, on to the next one!
- Once you’ve completed at least 16 of the 18 caches, point your GPS to the CVB headquarters and get your limited-edition coin.
The Hunt Continues
Geocaches aren’t the only things you’ll find in Berkeley County. Check out these not-so-hidden treasures.
With a hip look and a menu of gourmet brunch, lunch, and dinner options, Brix 27 is the place to go for a girls’ night out or a romantic meal with that special someone. There’s often live music on the weekends. And be sure to stop by The Downtown Winedown, an attached boutique that offers more than 130 wines and a wide selection of food gifts. 131 North Queen Street, Martinsburg, 304.616.1628, brix27.com, @brix27wv
The Blue White Grill
A downtown Martinsburg fixture since 1958, this homey local spot offers all your diner favorites: burgers, melts, and country-style dinner entrees, plus hand-dipped milkshakes and sundaes. But this place really shines first thing in the morning—it’s no wonder the Blue White boasts “the best breakfast in West Virginia.” 101 North Queen Street, Martinsburg, 304.263.3607, bluewhitegrill.com, @bluewhitegrill
This Martinsburg favorite offers a host of confections including truffles, nut clusters, caramels, chocolate-covered pretzels, and chocolate-covered orange peel. There’s also an impressive selection of traditional candies you probably haven’t seen since childhood. 130 North Queen Street, Martinsburg, 304.264.3698, defluris.com, @defluris
You’ll find beautiful hand-cut flower arrangements at this boutique, but also a large selection of gift items. Pick up some artisan soap, jewelry, or ceramics for a birthday, holiday or just because. The shop is known around town for its intricate window displays, which change with the seasons. 144 North Queen Street, Martinsburg, 304.260.5770, flowersunlimitedwv.com, @flowersunlimiteddesigns
Berkeley County Youth Fair | August 3–10
Berkeley County Youth Fairgrounds
A traditional youth fair with carnival rides, donut-eating contest, and young farmers showing their livestock.
Boots, Brews, & BBQ | August 10
Live country, bluegrass, and folk music, plus barbecue trucks and beer from regional craft breweries.
WoodsFest | September 14
The Woods, Hedgesville
Showcasing regional artists, from jewelry makers to potters. There are food vendors, live music, and special activities for kids.