Going hiking is a fun activity all on its own. That said, it can be easy to feel like it’s a little low on excitement, especially if you’re hiking solo. One thing people often consider turning to in order to change this is metal detecting. 

However, if you’ve never tried your hand at metal detecting before, it can be easy to wonder whether it’s the right option for you. Will it really change anything about your hiking experience? Will it make hiking more exciting, or just make it seem more like a chore? 

If you’re wondering whether you should pick up a metal detector when stocking up for your next hike, you’re in the right place. Here’s what you need to know about metal detecting while hiking a trail. 

Location Matters

Not all trails are created equal when it comes to metal detecting while hiking. Some trails, including ones in national parks, prohibit the use of a metal detector. If you’re committed to hiking a particular trail and don’t want to change your plans, you’ll need to first check the rules to confirm bringing a metal detector along is okay. 

Additionally, even if your trail allows you to bring your new toy with you, it may not be the best location to use it. You’ll ideally want to choose an area that sees a lot of foot traffic because there’s a greater chance you’ll find  lost items. Additionally, you’ll want to avoid taking a metal detector to trails that are difficult to search or dig up, such as heavily wooded ones. 

One option is to use your metal detector in areas around hiking trails that are heavily used (or were used heavily in the past), such as campgrounds. If you’re strictly sticking to hiking trails, we suggest choosing one that is both heavily used and is as old as possible – not only is there a better chance of finding something, but you may luck out and find something pretty old!

Choose the Right Metal Detector

If you’ve never used a metal detector before, you may think they’re all the same. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

The fact is, there are several types of metal detectors, depending on what you’re looking for. Coin, relic, and general metal detectors, as the team at www.detectorlist.com points out, are the ones popularly used by amateurs and hobbyists. With these, you can find items of all types and have a “discriminator” that allows you to filter out low-value items. 

However, you can also look at gold metal detectors, which are designed to be more likely to find gold, and kids’ metal detectors, which are perfect for introducing a child to a new hobby. An advantage of kids’ metal detectors is that they work similarly to other versions, but they’re shorter and lighter – which can also make them extremely convenient to bring along when hiking since you’ll have to carry all the equipment yourself. 

Respect the Land

Regardless of whether you’re hiking on private or public land, keep in mind that this is land that other people use as well. Make sure to practice responsible metal detecting and respect both the land you’re working on and the artifacts you find. Try to ensure you leave no trace behind you by picking up all your trash before you leave and filling in any holes  you may have dug up. 

Additionally, be careful with the items you find, especially if they look old. If you do stumble across a find that is historically important, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve treated it properly and not damaged it in a way that affects its historical value. 

If you’re planning to dig up your finds, consider investing in digging tools designed for metal detecting. These tools make it easier to cut through grass and are also smaller than regular shovels, making them easier to carry around. With these tools, you make your equipment load lighter and reduce the mess that a dug hole makes – a win-win for everyone involved!

Metal detecting can be a fun addition to your hiking trip, but it’s essential to do it in a way that is responsible and respectful of other people. Not every hiking trail welcomes these tools, and even if you choose one that does, other people on the trail may be annoyed by the sound of the detector or you digging in the middle of a trail they’re using. 

Acquaint yourself with local laws, and check with administrators before bringing along a metal detector on your trip. Try and dig in more secluded areas of the trail, where you won’t get in the way of other hikers. If possible, consider using your metal detector in areas frequented by other hobbyists first, so you can get acquainted with how it works and how to use it without bothering other people.