Metal Detecting on the Outer Banks (Maps, Laws and MORE)

Metal Detecting on the Outer Banks (Maps, Laws and MORE)

When we take a family vacation to the Outer Banks, our favorite restaurant is pirate-themed. We converse with pirate mannequins as we wait for our table and eat in pirate hats. Of course pirates and treasure go hand in hand. North Carolina beaches are known for interesting things washing up and exposing themselves. Of course Metal Detecting is a planned activity in our household, a trip to the beach would be incomplete without getting our detectors out and swing for treasure.

During the heyday of American piracy and rumrunning, the Outer Banks (OBX) was equal parts treacherous and profitable for anyone who braved the hazardous offshore shoals. Naturally, this leads us to a favorite vacation activity: treasure hunting!

Where to Metal Detect on the Outer Banks
Where to Metal Detect on the Outer Banks

While your chances of unearthing the shipwrecked booty of a lost pirate ship are slim, your chances of salvaging coins, watches, jewelry and other more-recently “buried” treasure are fairly good if you go metal detecting at the Outer Banks. So, bring your metal detector, your sunscreen and some useful information about the laws and locations for metal detecting, and you’ll be sure to have a great time.

Can You Metal Detect on the Outer Banks?

In general, metal detecting is allowed at the public beaches on the Outer Banks. However, detectorists will need to plan their scanning excursions around some specific regulations and locations where metal detecting is allowed.

Metal detecting is allowed on the beaches north of Nag’s Head. This includes: Carova, Corolla, Duck, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores and some of Nag’s Head.

Metal detecting is prohibited within Cape Hatteras National Seashore. These prohibited beaches include Avon, Buxton, Frisco, Hatteras, Ocracoke, Rodanthe, Salvo and Waves. Additionally, metal detecting is prohibited in all North Carolina State Parks, which include the beach at Jockey Ridge State Park.

Where to Metal Detect on the Outer Banks?

With pale, silky, sand and tranquil sea grasses, dramatic dunes and moody clouds, you can’t go wrong metal detecting anywhere on the Outer Banks. The scenery alone will make any excursion worthwhile, whether or not you unearth any treasure.

Based on the assumption that most of us are unlikely to discover a Spanish galleon or Colonial silverware (neither of which would we be allowed to keep anyway), the treasures we’re detecting for are more mundane and more modern things like coins, keys, jewelry and the like. Given that, the best places for metal detecting at OBX (like any beach) are the high-traffic areas where visitors easily drop objects that they’re either unaware of losing or unable to find in the sand.

One popular spot is Carova Beach Park and Boat Ramp.

Many Regional Public Beach access, like Kitty Hawk’s are also good prospects.

Do You Need a Permit to Metal Detect the Outer Banks?

The good news about metal detecting in North Carolina is that no permit is required as long as you’re at one of the OBX beaches (listed above) where metal detecting is allowed, saving you the time and effort of a permitting process.

The only exception to this is in state parks. You’ll recall, metal detecting is prohibited in State Parks. However, if you lose a personal item in a state park, you can apply for a permit to use your metal detector to search for your lost property. Be advised, you’ll be accompanied by a park employee while you search.

Metal detecting is also allowed on private property in North Carolina without a permit provided you have permission from the property owner.

Laws and Rules for Metal Detecting the Outer Banks, NC

Even at beaches where metal detecting is permitted, there may be certain guidelines to follow. Most recreation areas prohibit the use of metal detectors during June, July and August when crowding on the beaches is intense. (Both the crowds and the heat make this an unpleasant time for metal detecting, anyway, so you’re not missing out on anything.)

General beach guidelines request that all beach users – whether metal detectorists or families building sand castles – fill in any holes they dig in the sand. So, if your scanner leads you to start digging, fill in the hole once you’re done. Additional rules governing beach usage also apply, such as prohibitions on glass containers and alcohol (except for beer) and driving on the beach.

Should you be lucky enough to find an artifact from a real shipwreck or other item of historical value, there are additional regulations to be aware of. The laws that could affect you during your metal detecting at the Outer Banks are the Archaeological Resources Preservation Act (ARPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act. Essentially, anything you find that appears to be a historical artifact needs to be reported, not pocketed – or risk a $5,000.00 fine. Additionally, if the object you discover appears to be over 100 years old, you’re supposed to leave it where it is and report it. This allows professionals to remove it, avoiding damage to fragile objects with potential historic significance.

For more information about North Carolina metal detecting laws, visit

Metal Detecting Clubs and Stores in North Carolina

If you’re new to metal detecting, there are many online forums and chat boards where you can ask your own questions and dig for information specific to the Outer Banks. There are also local metal detecting clubs where you can get insider tips from experts. Some clubs in North Carolina include:

If you need to purchase metal detecting equipment, you better bring it with you or stop on the way because there are no metal detector stores at the Outer Banks. The closest stores are:


David Humphries
, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.

15 Best Places to Metal Detect in Michigan (Maps, Laws, Clubs, and More)

15 Best Places to Metal Detect in Michigan (Maps, Laws, Clubs, and More)

In my opinion Michigan is the best state in the whole country for metal detecting. I admit I have lived in Michigan my entire life, but I promise I’m not entirely biased. Michigan borders four of the five great lakes and has some of the largest publicly owned forests in the country! In addition to the nearly endless beaches and forest where one could metal detect, in Michigan you never know what you’re going to get. You can get anything from treasures left behind by lumber operations and copper mines to artifacts from Native American cultures who once inhabited the land. My favorite vacations have been traveling across the state to metal detect on the beaches of the great lakes.

I could go on and on about the many places that I’ve been metal detecting in Michigan, but for the purposes of this list I have distilled them down into just 15 locations of which I believe to be the best places to metal detect in Michigan.

1. Grand Haven State Park (Lighthouse Beach)

Given that Michigan borders 4 out of the 5 great lakes, it is no surprise that it has plenty of lighthouses. However, not all of Michigan’s lighthouses are open to the public, and not all of them have metal detector friendly policies. That is what makes Grand Haven State Park special. The park is located on the west side of Michigan’s lower peninsula at the opening of the Grand River on the coast of Lake Michigan. It is a 48-acre park which, besides its lighthouse, is made up completely of beach sand.

Metal Detecting Grand Haven State Park
Metal Detecting Grand Haven State Park

Grand Haven State Park also happens to be one of the 5 total state parks in Michigan that allow metal detecting on all portions of the park as long as it is conducted in a way that doesn’t damage the resources of violate any state laws. This is great for detectorists because the entire park is essentially a giant beach. Moreover, because there is a lighthouse the park is especially popular. This means that there is tons of foot-traffic and it’s all on the sand! It’s basically a perfect place to go looking for jewelry, coins, and other dropped treasures.

Where to Metal Detect at Grand Haven State Park

2. Huron-Manistee National Forests (Buried Treasure)  

Technically two separate national forests, the Huron and Manistee national forests are both located in the upper portion of the lower peninsula of Michigan and were combined for administrative purposes. Together they comprise 978,906-acres of land which is filled with thousands of lakes, and miles of rivers and streams. Portions of this land were former sites of logging camps and early settlers, now abandoned and overgrown with new forest. Furthermore, a section of the Manistee portion of the national forest is known as Nordhouse Dunes Wilderness. It is one of the few dune ecosystems that is nationally owned and therefore open to metal detector use.

Apart from the sheer size and uniqueness of these national forests, both of which are huge positives for detectorists, the forest also may hold a long forgotten buried treasure. That’s right, deep in the woods of the Huron portion of the national forest there may be half a million in buried gold coins. All of the stories of the treasure differ somewhat, however the most popular of them state that a payment of gold coins was in route to a lumber camp when the train was held up by robbers. According to the legend the robbers buried the gold in an iron stove somewhere on the shoreline of Benton Lake. The treasure has never been found and might still be out their waiting for some lucky detectorist to find it.

Where to Metal Detect in the Huron-Manistee Forest

3. Warren Dunes State Park (Tons of Foot-Traffic)

The Warren Dunes State Park is a series of huge sand dunes located near the most southwest portion of Michigan, bordering Lake Michigan. The park has a total of 1,952-acres of land and is one of the five most popular camping destinations in the state of Michigan. This is a pretty big achievement as camping is a highly popular recreational state, most of it done in the more northern portions of the state. The Warren Dunes are such a popular attraction that the park has over a million visitors every year. That’s a million people who come and potentially drop jewelry, coins, and any number of other things in the clean sand.

However, unlike some state parks in Michigan, metal detecting is not allowed in the entire park. The portions of the park which are open to metal detecting can be found, thanks to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, on the printable map linked below.

Warren Dunes Metal Detecting
Where to Metal Detect at Warren Dunes, MI

Map of areas open to metal detecting:

Where to Metal Detect in Warren Dunes State Park

4. Antrim Creek Natural Area (Ghost Town)

Unlike the other locations on this list, the Antrim Creek Natural Area is not managed by national or state governments. Instead it is maintained by the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy through the officials of Antrim county. However, it is very comparable to a state park in that it is comprised of 156-acres of land and even boasts an entire mile of shoreline on Lake Michigan. In fact, the area was originally designated as a port town given its proximity to the lake.

However, Old Antrim was a poor location for a port as the waters were shallow and only small watercraft could actually dock along the waterside. This didn’t stop a town from developing briefly, although eventually all of the residents eventually moved. All that is left are some foundations and small signs of previous habitation.

This would be a great place to metal detect as you might find some relics from the mid 1800’s. The land is open to hunting and pretty much all other forms of recreation, and the regulations listed on their website (which is linked below) don’t mention metal detecting.

Learn the Regulations for Antrim Creek Natural Area:

Where to Metal Detect in Antrim Creek Natural Area

5. Ludington State Park (Ship Wreak Beach)

Home to the Big Sable Point Lighthouse, the Ludington State Park would seem to be an unlikely place for shipwrecks, however more than one have been found in recent years either within the bounds of the park or very near to them. Apart from that, the park also has pretty much everything that can make a state park great.

The park is situated in between Hamlin Lake and Lake Michigan, plus a mile of the Big Sable River runs through the park. But the impressive natural features don’t end there. The park has several miles of shoreline and even sand dunes bordered by marshlands and forests. All of this put together makes the Ludington State Park a big tourist destination with tons of foot-traffic every year.

Ship wreaks, although uncommon, can be found here as well as many other locations along the north-western portions of Michigan’s shoreline due to the rapid changes between very deep and very shallow waters. Ludington State park has plenty of other great attributes which makes it a perfect place to go metal detecting, but the possibility of finding relic from a centuries old ship wreak washed ashore is definitely a plus.

Areas of the park open to metal detecting can be found on the printable map, courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, linked below.

Where to Metal Detect at Ludington State Park

Ludington Atate Park is popular with ch scanners, but make sure your sweeping the right places. Fortunately the State of Michigan has a downloadable map. Find it Here –

6. Hiawatha National Forest (Nearly 1 Million Acres of Searchable Land in the Upper Peninsula!!!)

The upper peninsula of Michigan is well known as one of the most naturally beautiful places in the entire world. Anywhere in the upper peninsula would be a great place to go metal detecting, but the Hiawatha National Forest is an especially great place due to its enormous size and unique geological features. The forest is 894,836-acres of land with over 100-miles of shoreline. The forest borders both Lake Michigan and Lake Superior with some portions on the eastside even bordering Lake Huron. Some portions are still used today for commercial lumber projects, however many now abandoned logging operations were conducted before the land was designated a national forest.

The extensive shorelines, abandoned logging operations, beautiful forests, and previous inhabitants of Native Americans all make the Hiawatha National Forest an amazing place to go looking for long forgotten relics. However, as I mentioned some portions are used for commercial operations and others are used by the forest service itself for things such as museums. Because of this, not all of the land is open to metal detecting. I recommend in general trying to stay away from areas where it looks like human activity is present.

7. Muskegon State Park (Two Miles of Beach on Lake Michigan)

The former site of the Ryerson Hill & Company lumber mill, the Muskegon State Park is a 1,233-acre plot of land situated on the eastern coast of Lake Michigan. The park has two miles of beachfront, although it also has sand dunes, hiking trails, and an Olympic-designated winter sports complex. This makes it a highly popular destination for both visitors and locals. It is the stereotypical great metal detecting beach with tons of foot-traffic and beautiful views.

Where to Metal Detect at Muskegon State Park

Areas of the Muskegon State Park open to metal detecting can be found on the printable map, courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources –

8. Traverse City State Park (One of Michigan’s most popular Resort Towns)

Officially known as the Keith J. Charters Traverse City State Park, the park is 47-acres of land located on the southern shoreline of the East Grand Traverse Bay (a bay of Lake Michigan). The Traverse City State Park is one of the few state parks in Michigan that allow metal detecting on all portions of the park, both on the beach and in the campgrounds. It is also a highly popular camping destination as it is located in one of Michigan’s most visited resort towns. This of course means tons of foot-traffic, something that detectorists are always looking for.

9. Petoskey State Park (Home of the Michigan State Stone the Petoskey Stone)

The Petoskey State Park occupies land which was owned by William Wirt Rice and his tannery which he founded in the late 1800’s. Today, however, much of the 303-acre park is comprised of heavily vegetated sand dunes and a beach on the shores of Little Traverse Bay (a bay of Lake Michigan). The Petoskey stone, Michigan’s state stone, can be found on the parks beach, which makes this area a huge tourist destination. Tons of foot-traffic of visitors from all around the country come to this beach every year. Plus, in additional to their lost treasures, you might even find a few Petoskey stones!

Areas of the park open to metal detecting can be found on the printable map, courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, linked below.

Map of areas open to metal detecting:

10. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Largest State Park in Michigan)

Only the beaches of Union Bay (a bay of Lake Superior) are open to metal detecting in this immense 60,000-acre state park, however its other spectacular attractions bring plenty of foot-traffic to this beach every year. The park is home to the most extensive stand of old growth northern hardwood in North America, the Lake of Clouds, and even an abandoned copper mining town. Moreover, the park is filled with breathtaking waterfalls and views from the higher portions of the mountain. This is definitely a location which is good both because of the metal detecting opportunities and the other recreational activities that can be had in the area

Where to Metal Detect in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness

Areas of the Porkies open to metal detecting can be found on the printable map, courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources –

11. Lakeport State Park. (Former United Auto Workers Retreat)

Lakeport State Park is one of the few places on this list that is located on the shores of Lake Huron. Because of its close proximity to the city of Detroit, the southern unit of the Lakeport State Park was formerly the location of the United Auto Workers Retreat. Today, it is one of the best places to go metal detecting on the east side of Michigan as it is one of the few state parks which allow metal detecting on all portions of the park. Whether you’re looking for treasures left in the mid twentieth century by auto workers, or just some jewelry left behind by the parks many visitors, the Lakeport State Park is a great destination for detectorists.

12. Mears State Park (Camp on the Beaches of Lake Michigan)

Formerly owned by the lumber baron Charles Mears, and officially known as the Charles Mears State Park, the Mears State Park is a 50-acre plot of land on the north side of the channel that connects Lake Michigan and Pentwater Lake. It is also one of the few places where you can actually camp on the shores of the great lake. It is a great metal detecting vacation location as metal detecting is allowed on all portions of the park, and the opportunity to camp with a view of a great lake is unbeatable in the state of Michigan. You are most likely to find coins, jewelry, and other things left behind by the parks many visitors. But you might just find a relic left behind from the days when it was inhabited by a lumber baron!

13. Brimley State Park (One of the Oldest State Parks in the Upper Peninsula)

Due to Brimley State Park being one of the oldest state parks in the upper peninsula of Michigan, it offers the special opportunity to search for objects left behind by visitors from all the way back to 1923 when the park was founded. It is 151-acres of land on the shores of Whitefish Bay (a bay of Lake Superior) and is particularly interesting to detectorist as metal detecting is allowed on all portions of the park. It isn’t as heavily trafficked as some of the other locations on this list, and so might be better for those who enjoy a private treasure hunting adventure.

14. Baraga State Park (Copper Nuggets)

The upper peninsula of Michigan, particularly the western areas, is known for having some of the largest deposits of naturally occurring copper in the world. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find public land that is open to metal detecting in this area. However, the Baraga State Park is one of these locations. While you are more likely to find coins or jewelry, it is possible that you could unearth a copper nugget. I recommend trying to find private land, or other such areas, in this area as copper deposits that are multiple tons in size have been found. It is always important to get the proper permissions for this kind of detecting, however.

Areas of the park open to metal detecting can be found on the printable map, courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, linked below.

Map of Areas Open to Metal Detecting in Baraga State Park

You can download directly from the State Baraga State Park here –

15. Rifle River Recreation Area (Big Fisherman’s Retreat)

Only some small portions of this state park are open to metal detecting, but luckily the best location is the canoe launch which is designated as being open. The Rifle River Recreation Area is a 4,449-acre plot of land with upper portions of the popular Rifle River running through it. It is a very popular location for fisherman from every state in the Midwest, and therefore the canoe launch is one of the best locations to go metal detecting in Michigan.

Areas of the park open to metal detecting can be found on the printable map, courtesy of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, linked below.

Map of Areas Open to Metal Detecting in the Rifle River Recreation Area

You can download directly from the State of Michigan here –

Metal Detecting Laws in Michigan

Michigan Metal Detecting Clubs

Favorite Metal Detecting Shops in Michigan

Tips for Metal Detecting in Michigan

  1. Consider getting a coil cover if you metal detect on rocky beaches.  Damaging a coil is expensive and an inexpensive cover will help your coil last.
  2. Consider using a waterproof metal detector so that you can detect in the many rivers and streams that Michigan has to offer. You might even find something in one of the great lakes!
  3. Always bring a sand scoop to the beaches and dunes of the great lakes. It’s saved me a ton of time on my metal detecting trips.
  4. If you go metal detecting in one of the National Forests make sure you don’t stray too far from the paths. It can be very easy to get lost in a million acres of woodland.

Looking to LEARN more about Metal Detecting?

Metal Detecting Tips is filled with great articles about HOW to Metal Detect.

David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25. I felt like a treasure hunter. FREE MONEY! I was seriously bitten by the metal detecting bug.

15 Best Places to Metal Detect in Ohio (Maps, Laws, Clubs and More)

15 Best Places to Metal Detect in Ohio (Maps, Laws, Clubs and More)

Ohio was the first state that I went metal detecting in, besides my home state of Michigan, and it’s not just because the two share a border. While I will always favor Michigan over Ohio, there is no denying that Ohio has some of the best public areas for detectorists. From the extensive beaches of Lake Erie to some of the most detectorist friendly city park systems in the nation; There is more recreation to be had in the buckeye state than just the roller coasters at Cedar Point.

Finding Money Metal Detecting
Finding $$ Metal Detecting

In terms of history, Ohio was originally inhabited by Native American tribes and over time also American and French fur trappers. Once officially part of the union, farmers and homesteaders moved in as well. This means that if you are a relic hunter you can expect to be searching for Native American artifacts, early English artifacts, and even artifacts from early American settlers. Not to mention the various lost/buried treasures which are suspected to be in various locations across the state.

With all of my experiences in Ohio through the years I’ve put together a list of what I believe to be the best 15 places to metal detect in Ohio…

1. Headlands Beach at Headlands Beach State Park – For Metal Detecting

Headlands Beach is a beautiful 120-acre state park that has all of the recreational activities one would expect from a state park, but it has one special natural attraction that makes it particularly attractive to detectorists. Headlands beach is the longest natural beach in the state of Ohio. It is a mile-long natural sand beach on the shores of Lake Erie surrounded by even larger and more majestic sand dunes.

These attractions combined bring in up to two million picnickers and swimmers every year. It is often ranked as Ohio’s best beach and is certainly its most popular. To all of you who like to look for coins and jewelry that visitors have left behind, the Headlands Beach is the place for you.

2. Geneva State Park Beach – Scanning Beaches

Geneva State Park Beach is another amazing beach located on the shore of Lake Erie. Although, the entire park is around seven times larger than the Headlands Beach State Park coming in at nearly 700-acres of land. The beach may not be as long, however visitors praise it as having some of the cleanest and whitest sand of any beach along the lake. Hundreds of thousands of visitors visit the park every year.

Beach metal detecting requires the right digging tools. Don’t get stuck using a shovel that broke in the middle of a hunt like me read about the correct digging tools in this article – Selecting the Best Digging Tools for Metal Detecting.

The land that the park is sitting on was originally inhabited by Native Americans, and before becoming a state park was also once part of the state’s extensive canal system for the shipping of goods to Ohio’s many rural farms. While metal detecting is usually reserved only for the sand areas of state parks (see metal detecting laws in Ohio below) there is also some talk on the forums of the park allowing detecting elsewhere in the past.

Metal Detecting on a beach has a couple TRICKS you’ve got to use. Luckily I’ve summarized my tactics in this article. How to Metal Detect: The Complete Beginners Guide

3. Kelley’s Island State Park Beach – Isolated Treasures

Kelley’s Island State Park Beach is one of the most unique locations on this list because, as the name suggests, it is located on an Island in the Lake Erie Island system. Located on the northern shores of Kelley’s Island, known locally as Lake Erie’s Emerald Isle, this is a 677-acre state park renowned for its unique location and size (It takes up almost 1/5th of the entire landmass).

While a unique location for vacationers, the isolation aspect of the island does mean that it doesn’t get nearly as much foot traffic as some of the other places on this list. To get to the island one has to take one of the frequent daily ferries which service everything from RV’s to bicycles.

4. Alum Creek Beach at Alum Creek State Park – Massive Potential for Metal Detecting

Although it differs from the previous four places on this list by being the first inland beach, Alum Creek State Park is still one of the most historically significant state parks in all of Ohio. Alum Creek State Park is a massive 4,630-acre park located just north of the state capitol of Columbus and has evidence of Native American settlements dating back over 2,000 years.

Furthermore, as Ohio shared a border with a former slave state of Kentucky the land that is now Alum Creek was once vital to the freeing of slaves along the Underground Railroad. More recently, the Alum Creek Dam was constructed as a flood control plan for the Ohio River basin and was completed in 1974 creating the Alum Creek Lake. Along the shores of this lake is the longest inland beach in the state of Ohio coming in at 3,000-ft long.

5. Wayne National Forest – For History Buffs

The Wayne National Forest, along with every other piece of land managed by The National Forest Service, benefits from loose restrictions regarding the use of metal detecting. The only restriction placed upon metal detecting is that if you find something which you believe to be a historical artifact you are supposed to report it to the forest management office. Otherwise, the enormous 240,101-acre forest is open to all kinds of treasure hunting.

The forest itself is split into three regions; The Athens Unit, The Marietta Unit, and The Ironton Unit. All of these divisions are located in southern Ohio, two of them in south-eastern Ohio. The land was originally cleared for lumber use, so there has been recent human activity which could result in treasures from the 18th and 19th centuries buried beneath the new growth.

Don’t miss a single piece of buried treasure! Read about 41 Metal Detecting Tips from years for swinging a detector.

6. National Trail Parks and Recreation District (Springfield, Ohio)

This location is different from the others on the list because it isn’t just one location. The National Trail Parks and Recreation District is a collection of 24 city parks all located in Springfield Ohio.

According to the CEO of the National Trail Parks and Recreation District Tim Smith “You can use your metal detecting equipment in the open park areas, you are required to return the turf to its original condition. You are not permitted to go on any athletic areas; softball, baseball, soccer, golf courses, etc. You are not permitted to go into any fenced/secured areas, pools, stadiums, etc. You are not permitted to utilize your equipment while events are ongoing in the parks.”

Given that many city park systems either require a permit to metal detect, or more likely do not allow metal detecting whatsoever, this is definitely a city that detectorists can support. Springfield is located just north-east of Dayton so it would be a great weekend getaway for those who live in the city and are looking for places to treasure hunt.

For more information visit…

7. Cleveland Metroparks – Lots of People Means Lost Treasures

The Cleveland Metroparks system is another one of the unlikely pubic park systems in the State of Ohio which demonstrates Ohio’s uncommonly positive attitude towards metal detecting. It is 23,700-acres of land separated into 18 total reservations located in the famous city of Cleveland. Although, there are some additional restrictions which the city of Springfield does not have such as requiring a permit to metal detect. The process takes two weeks and comes with a list of further restrictions for the use of the metal detecting equipment within the park. The permits expire at the end of every year and therefore need to be renewed.

To obtain a permit you will need to contact/visit the
Cleveland Metropolitan Parks, Administration Office, Division of Activity Permits at
4101 Fulton Parkway, Cleveland, Ohio 44144 or at (216) 351-6300 by phone.

For more information visit…

8. Salt Fort Beach at Salt Fork State Park

The Salt Fort State Park is the largest state park in Ohio at 17,229-acres of land and 2,952-acres of water. The Salt Fort Beach isn’t the largest inland beach in Ohio, but it still comes in at the impressive length of 2,500-ft. It also happens to be one of the few inland beaches in south eastern Ohio to be popular enough to be worth visiting looking for treasure. The park itself has some of the most developed, but amazing, amenities common amongst the more well-funded midwestern state parks including a large clubhouse with an accompanying swimming pool.

However, with so much land, even with all of these more developed version of recreation available there is still no shortage of wooded nature trails and grasslands. This is something that is always important to me when it comes to finding great places to metal detect because I love to take trail walks to either work off my frustration from not finding anything, or to work off my excitement of a good day treasure hunting.

9. East Harbor State Park Beach

East Harbor State Park Beach is an 1,831-acre state park located at the very tip of central Ohio on the beautiful shores of Lake Erie. This beach, while still large in comparison to most beaches, would have been the longest public beach on the shores of Lake Erie if had not been for a storm in 1972 which reduced the previously two-mile long beach into a much smaller area located at the north end of the park. And, if it wasn’t for the four additional breakwaters that were constructed and are segmented equal-distant from each other offshore the rest of the beach would be gone today as well. However, thankfully it is not because this is one of my favorite stops along the coast of Lake Erie and a quintessential part of every trip I make down to Ohio.

10. City of Aroura Parks

The city of Aroura Ohio is an eastern suburb of the Akron area just south of Cleveland. Within this suburb there are 11 parks with a total of over 1,500-acres of property all together. These parks have tons of open fields and other similar grassed areas which are perfect for easy day of metal detecting and are especially good for practicing your technique.

According to the director of the Parks and Recreation department of Aroura Jim Kraus the rules for metal detecting in the parks of Aroura are as follows…

  1. Metal Detecting is only allowed during normal park hours which are typically dawn to dusk unless otherwise posted.
  2. Metal Detectors shall respect other park users. Detecting should be limited to low use times at the activity fields, pavilions, boat landings, and other areas within the park.
  3. A reasonable effort should be made to return items of value or significance to its original owner. The Parks and Recreation Department would assist you in this process if you desire.
  4. All excavations must be returned to their original condition.
  5. Metal Detectors are subject to all rules and laws regulating conduct on County property.”

For more information visit…

11. City of Hillard Parks – A Great Weekend Treasure Hunt

The city of Hillard is a small suburb of the states capitol Columbus and has a total of 12 parks cumulatively. These parks are visited regularly by the nearly 40,000 residence of the city and have large amounts of open space and other recreational areas which people use every day. It’s location also makes it perfect for college students at Ohio State interested in metal detecting who are looking for somewhere to go on the weekends.

Most importantly, according to the Assistant Director of Recreation and Parks, Phil Schroeder, they “do allow metal detecting in the Hilliard Parks, except inside the fenced areas of the pool.”

For more information visit…

12. The Beaches of Maumee Bay State Park

Maumee Bay State Park is 1,336-acres of land on the coast of Lake Erie. It also has some of the finest recreational facilities that I’ve ever seen. The clubhouse is enormous and has its own pool, even though its right next to one of the great lakes. The beach itself is kept immaculately clean and has been shaped into an interesting pattern of half circles. This of course means that you would want to go detecting near the end of the day or early enough in the morning that you get there before they clean the sand. This is certainly one of the most scenic location on this list, and definitely would be my pick if I was looking to stay at the lodgings of one of these facilities.

13. Buck Creek State Park Beach

The land of Buck Creek State Park was once the setting of a small battle between the Native Shawnee and the American’s who, led by George Rogers Clark, led a 1,000-man conflict in 1780. Although, today Buck Creek State park is more well known as a year-round attraction for recreation and appreciation for the natural world. In total the park is 4,016-acres of land located in Ohio’s Clark county. However, the C.J. Brown reservoir built by the Army Core of Engineers, in which the parks boundaries surround, is what makes this location attractive to detectorists. This beach is not the largest or most visited in the state, but it is the quintessential small-town getaway that is just filled with classic Midwest scenery. Plus, the city of Springfield is just a few miles away so you could spend an entire day detecting both this beach and the parks of Springfield.

14. Springboro Parks – Treasure Hunting in City Parks

Springboro is one of the more upscale suburbs of Cincinnati, although with the way that Parks and Recreation Director Greg Mytinger describes their metal detecting laws you wouldn’t know it. According to him, “The City of Streetsboro Parks & Recreation Department currently does not restrict the use of metal detectors within its city parks.” And even gives you well wishes by finishing his statement encouraging “Happy Hunting!” Only in Ohio will you get that kind of warm reception when you ask to metal detect in the parks of a posh city. Best of all, they have a total of 10 parks so you could spend days searching them all.

For more information visit…

15. Oldfield Beach at Indian Lake State Park

Indian Lake State park is a 5,100-acre park with 2 different inland beach’s both on the shore of the namesake Indian Lake. Located in west-central Ohio Indian Lake State Park is one of the most visited parks in the entire Ohio state park system. And, although the park does have two beaches the more popular and larger of the two is the famous Oldfield Beach which draws a crowd almost every day in the swimming season. However, if you don’t like the self-conscious feeling that a crowd can often elicit the other beach is still popular enough to be worth your time.

Relevant Metal Detecting Laws in Ohio

  • Metal Detecting in State Parks: Metal detecting is prohibited in state parks except for the sand areas such as the beaches. However, permits can sometimes be acquired from park officials for use of a metal detector on other park land.
  • Metal Detecting in National Forests: Metal detecting is not restricted on any land managed by the National Forest Service. The only restrictions are ones which mandate that finds of significant historical value are supposed to turned in to the National Forrest Service.
  • Metal Detecting in City Parks: Most city parks either don’t allow metal detecting or require a permit. The ones on this list do, although rules and regulations can always change so it’s best to contact the Parks and Recreation Department of the city before you start looking for treasure.
  • Metal Detecting on Private Land: Just like in every other state, trespassing is a crime. You should always obtain permission from the landowner before you metal detect on private land.
  • General Practice: Always respect the Treasure Hunter’s Code of Ethics which can be found here…
  • General Practice: Always do your own due diligence and call the office of wherever you plan to detect to ensure your legal use of their properties. Laws and regulation can and may have changes since the posting of this article. 

Ohio Metal Detecting Clubs

Best Metal Detecting Shops in Ohio

Looking for More Places to Metal Detect?


David Humphries here, Wow! A couple years ago I grabbed my son’s metal detector to take on a camping trip. I thought it would be fun to walk the beach and just do a little sweeping. Little did I know I would be bitten by this amazing hobby. Read more ABOUT DAVID HERE

11 Best Places to Metal Detect in Kansas (MAPS INCLUDED)

11 Best Places to Metal Detect in Kansas (MAPS INCLUDED)

A couple of years ago I was heading west and had to drive pretty much straight through Kansas to get to where I was headed. Of course I brought my metal detecting gear. (Who’d go on vacation without taking the gear right? 😉) At the time the state seemed to be a boring, but beautiful, characteristically midwestern state with nothing special about it in particular. But, after coming back to the Sunflower State for a proper vacation I discovered something amazing…

Metal Detecting in Kansas
Metal Detecting in Kansas

Until I went to Kansas for myself, I had no idea the state is pretty much a metal detectorist’s dream. Originally inhabited by nomadic Native American Tribes, Kansas has been inhabited by everyone from Spanish conquistadors to French fur trappers before eventually being overtaken by frontier towns. Even better, Kansas was home to many battles in the American Civil War. Essentially, the place is a relic hunters paradise!

That’s not to say that detectorists looking for treasures of all kinds can’t find what they are searching for… it just means that even if you’re just looking for some coins or jewelry you still might wind up discovering a real piece of history!

1. Shawnee Mission Park – Great for Metal Detecting

Shawnee Mission Park is located at the very tip of the northeast of the State of Kansas, right in greater Kansas City location, at the border between Kansas and Missouri. The Shawnee Mission Park is a massive 1600-acre multi-use park that impressively is most visited park in the entire state of Kansas. You know what that means… tons of foot traffic and potentially dropped coins, jewelry, etcetera.

However, unlike all of the state parks on this list, at Shawnee Mission Park you don’t have to only stick to detecting on the beaches. Because this park is owned by Johnson county the rules regarding digging holes while metal detecting are much different.

Metal detecting at Shawnee Mission Park
Metal detecting at Shawnee Mission Park

In fact, all you have to do is get a permit from Johnson County Parks and Recreation Department for around $6.00-$11.00 which will last you all year. For more information about this permit visit…

That being said, if you did want to metal detect on the beach at Shawnee Mission Park that wouldn’t be a problem. This park is named after a beautiful 120-acre lake, Shawnee Mission Lake, which is the heart and soul of the whole area. That being said, whether you like to look for treasure on the beach or treasure in the fields, Shawnee Mission Park has you covered.

2. Shawnee County Swimming Beach at Lake Shawnee

Even though this place has a similar name to the first location on this list, don’t let it fool you! The Shawnee County Swimming Beach is quite a distance from Kansas City, and is in fact located in the westward town of Topeka. Built as a Work Progress Administration Project Lake Shawnee was created from 1935 to 1939 when it was finally available to over 5,000 fisherman who attended its opening day.

However, one thing that these two loctations do have in common is tourism. Lake Shawnee has been cited by the tourism industry as the top travel destination in all of Kansas and it’s no doubt as this one lake is visited by over a million people every year for various recreational activities.

This beach is, of course, more of coin and jewelry type of location rather than somewhere where you can expect to find some historical relics. But what a coin and jewelry location it really is. Just imagine, a million people a year wind up at this lake, in its waters and on its beaches, there’s bound to be some rings, earrings, necklaces, and especially coins just waiting to be found.

3. Corporate Woods Founders’ Park

Corporate Woods Founders’ Park is a 52-acre recreational park that has tons of forested trails and wooded areas. This park is on this list because it is one of the few city parks in Kansas that both allow metal detecting and have a large amount of wooded land for you to metal detect in. State parks have plenty of wooded land, but due to laws regarding digging holes on state land it is impossible to legally metal detect anywhere besides their beaches. City parks in Kansas often allow metal detecting, but rarely have any substantial wooded areas for nature lovers like me.

That being said, the city of Overland Park allows metal detecting but only with the use of a permit… something very common amongst city parks in this area of Kansas. Luckily, unlike Johnson county which makes you pay for a permit, the City of Overland Park will issue you a five-year permit for free. For information on how to obtain this permit call the Indian Creek Recreation Center at (913)895-6390.

4. The Beaches of Glen Elder State Park

As this is the first state park on the list, I must warn you that while there are no laws that prohibit metal detecting on state land in Kansas there are laws which prohibit digging holes on state land. That is what it is most likely that you will only be able to metal detect on the beach as digging a hole in the sand isn’t nearly as frowned upon as digging into the dirt or grass. This is something that goes for every state park on this list and is something that is pretty much standard nationwide.

Metal Detecting Beaches of Glen Elder State Park Kansas
Metal Detecting Beaches of Glen Elder State Park Kansas

That aside, the beaches of the Glen Elder State Park are definitely not going to leave you wanting for more places to metal detect, even if you can only detect on the beach. That is because the Glen Elder State Park is on the north side of the 12,500-acre Glen Elder Reservoir which is more commonly known as Waconda Lake. Waconda Lake is one of Kansas’s lakes and the land surrounding comprises one of the state’s largest parks clocking in at around 13,200 additional acres.

Besides the parks amazingly beautiful in its scenery, the countless recreational opportunities bring tons of foot-traffic every year to the Parks beaches. As it is a state park you can even camp right in the park if you are planning a trip to try out some new spots in Kansas. However, you should always be as respectful as possible in regard to what you take and how “in the way” you are at a state park. You don’t want the rangers giving you any trouble as they may still ask you to stop metal detecting, something that would be terrible if you had camped there specifically to do some metal detecting.

5. The Beaches of Cedar Bluff State Park

This is another beautiful state park with plenty of beachfront to go treasure hunting on. Unlike the Glen Elder State Park. However, the Cedar Bluff State Park has beachfront on both side of its namesake reservoir. In fact, the entire park is split into two distinct areas which comprise its 850-acres of land.

The north side of the 6,800-acre Cedar Bluff Reservoir is The Bluffton Area which is the more developed and feature rich side of the lake. On this side you can expect for the beaches to have a great deal more foot-traffic than on the south side, but you can also expect them to be more heavily managed. By this I mean that it is more likely that the sand will be raked once a week on the north side as compared to once a season on the south side if at all. This means that there will be more chance for you to find something someone has dropped on the northside, but there’s also a higher chance it will get picked up or damaged by the sand rake.

The south side of the Cedar Bluff Reservoir is known as the Page Creek Area and offers an undeveloped experience on the shores along with plenty of primitive camping. One advantage of this side of the reservoir, at least how I see it, is that you won’t be bothered nearly as much when you’re out-treasure hunting.

6. Antioch Park

Antioch Park is another city park located within the bounds of Johnson county and is actually the counties oldest park. While this park isn’t nearly as big as the Shawnee Mission Park, coming in at only 44-acres, it is still a heavily visited area that attracts up to 700,000 people every year. That means that it gets almost as much foot-traffic, but instead of that foot-traffic spanning 1,600-acres it only spans 44-acres for you to search! 

This park has two fishing lakes and plenty of open fields as well. Just remember, because this is a city park in Johnson county you will need the Johnson county metal detecting permit which you can find at…

7. The Beaches of Perry State Park

Perry State Park is located in Jefferson county, Kansas, in the bustling city of Ozawkie. The park has 11,000-acres of total land and water, but, the crown jewel of Perry State Park (at least in regard to detectorists) is the Perry Reservoir and its 160 miles of shoreline. Not all of this lake’s shoreline is owned by the state, but a large portion of heavily trafficked public beaches can be found on the east side. The reservoir itself is a huge attraction for fisherman across the state but camping and tourism in the area ensure that the beaches of Lake Perry are never empty for too long.

8. Big Bull Creek Park

Big Bull Creek Park is the largest park in the Johnson county parks department coming in at 2,060-acres of land. Opening only two years ago in 2018 Big Bull Creek Park is also one of the newest parks in Johnson county. This park has a full 18-hoe disk golf course and is already being visited by thousands of visitors every year.

This park made it on the list because it is still relatively unknown compared to other parks of its size, so if you like open fields and wooded trails but don’t like crowds of people being nosey while you’re trying to search for treasure then the Big Bull Creek Park is the place for you.

Just remember, because this is a city park in Johnson county you will need the Johnson county metal detecting permit which you can find at…

9. The Beaches of Milford State Park

While Milford State Park can’t take the trophy of the most visited state park in Kansas it definitely can take the trophy for the largest reservoir. Located in Junction City the Milford Reservoir is the state’s largest lake coming in at a whopping 15-709-acres. The park is located on the southeastern shore of the lake and, itself, comes in at over 19,000-acres of total wildlife area. Of course, the beaches are the only thing that a detectorist can utilize in a state park, and luckily the Milford State Park has no shortage of them. Extremely popular amongst anglers, Milford Lake gets its fair share of swimmers and tourists from all around the state every year.

10. Cimarron National Grassland

Welcome to the relic hunter’s paradise in the State of Kansas! The Cimarron National Grassland is the largest area of public land in Kansas as it contains 108,175-acres of land which is, importantly, managed by the Forest Service. National Forests lands, unlike state parks, allow the recreational use of metal detecting on its land. That along with its immense size and potential means that the Cimarron National Grassland is one of the best, if not the best, place to go looking for some unique piece of history long forgotten and buried by time.

11. The Beaches of Lake Scott State Park

Lake Scott State Park is one of the most historically significant state parks in the state of Kansas as it is the site of the only known Native American pueblo in the entire territory. And, while of course these remains were declared a historic landmark and can definitely not be metal detected upon, that doesn’t mean you can’t try you luck on the beaches of the nearby Lake Scott. Given that it’s unlikely to find anything historic on these beaches its lucky that the history of the area brings in hundreds of thousands of visitors every year which swim in the Lake and bring with them coins, jewelry, etcetera.

Metal Detecting Laws in Kansas

State Metal Detecting Laws

The State of Kansas has no laws which directly prohibit, or even mention, the practice of recreational metal detecting. However, State Parks do have rules which prohibit the practice of digging and removing property from their parks.

Most, but not all, state parks will allow metal detecting on their beaches only as digging holes in the sand isn’t as damaging to an area as digging holes in dirt or grass. More information can be found on the State’s Parks and Recreation Department Webpage here…

Local Metal Detecting Laws (as they relate to locations on this list)

Johnson County, KS requires a permit to be purchased every year for the privilege of metal detecting in their county’s parks. More information can be found here…

Overland Park, KS requires that a permit be obtained, although for free and it last for five years. Information regarding obtaining this permit can be found from the Indian Creek Recreation Center at (913)895-6390.

General Best Practices for Metal Detecting

Metal Detecting Clubs in Kansas

Metal Detecting Shops in Kansas

Looking to More about Metal Detecting?

David Humphries, Writer and Creator of METAL DETECTING TIPS. After borrowing my son’s detector and finding $.25, I was bitten by the metal detecting bug. See my About Page – Here

Metal Detecting in Rivers and Streams: Do It RIGHT!

Metal Detecting in Rivers and Streams: Do It RIGHT!

Metal detecting in rivers and streams is a whole new ballgame compared to dirt fishing on land. In my experience, you find a completely different set of treasures. There are fewer coins, but much more jewelry and dropped objects, like knives, fishing gear, and nautical hardware.

If you’re really lucky, you might even find the discarded engagement ring from an angry fiancée! Actually, when people swim or wade in the water, rings come loose and slip off, and jewelry gets dislodged more easily.

By the way, we need a metal detecting term for water activities. You can’t call it dirt-fishing or coin shooting. Any ideas?

Why Metal Detect in Rivers or Streams – Goals

In most cases, you don’t really need to strictly define your goals. You can just go down to the river and find a good spot, and wade in. (Pun intended.) A good place to start is at a sandy beach, or where boats, rafts and kayaks are launched or land, Figure 1.

Boat and Bathing Areas for Metal Detecting
Boat and Bathing Areas for Metal Detecting

Figure 1. Boat landings and bathing areas are a good place to start detecting.

On the other hand, if you have specific things you want to find, there may be different ways to approach the challenge. Some suggestions follow.

Metal Detecting in Rivers for Coins and Jewelry:

  • Search under bridges and overpasses.
  • Scan the water and sand below vista points and lovers’ leaps.
  • Search popular beaches.

Pro Tip: Shallow water and a sand bar beneath a pedestrian bridge is a great place to detect for coins. Read more about Metal Detecting at a Beach in this article: Metal Detecting at Myrtle Beach

Metal Detecting Streams for Historic Relics:

  • Find places along rivers where there were shallow water crossings.
  • Find intersections of shallow rivers with known pioneer trails.
  • Use history books and old maps to discover these places.

Metal Detecting in a River for Gold and Silver:

  • Look for areas along the river where there are outcroppings of gold-bearing quartz rock, or known silver deposits.
  • Search just below and somewhat down-stream of such rocks.
  • Detect in the sand dunes at bends in the river.
  • Search in the sand dunes that appear where the river changes from a narrow passage to a wider stream.

What Kind of Metal Detecting Equipment is Needed for Rivers and Streams

Detecting in water environments definitely takes some special equipment.

Most detector coils are waterproof, but it’s wise to check the seal for cracks or worn-away insulation. Any breaches in the seal can ruin your coil. Many special purpose detectors have a submersible control box too, but be sure to check your user manual.

Peripheral River Metal Detecting Equipment

Suggested add-ons to your toolbox:

  • Waterproof pin-pointer.
  • Long-handled sand scoop.
  • Small spade shovel for rocky bottoms.
  • Prospector hammer, if you are searching for gold or silver ore.

If your looking for a COMPLETE GUIDE to Metal Detecting digging tools read this guide: Metal Detecting Digging Tools Selecting the BEST

Are Clothes Important Metal Detecting?

Look into wading shoes or rubber boots. There are a whole slew of footwear products for shallow wading, from neoprene socks to quick-drying sneakers. Examples.

You may need fisherman’s waders for deeper water, Figure 3. Some folks even buy wet suits for deep or cold water detecting. This of course is a much more dedicated dive into the sport, and is not right for everyone.

Metal Detecting with Waders in High Water
Metal Detecting with Waders in High Water

Figure 3. Water higher than knee deep is going to require waders and fishing gear.

Suggested Metal Detecting Items to Have

  • Windbreaker jacket for breezy conditions.
  • Appropriate dress for climate and season.
  • Bug spray.
  • Spare dry socks

How to be SAFE Metal Detecting in a River

Water can be dangerous. Quick moving and frigid water is particularly hazardous. See news story.

A 100-mile per hour wind can knock a man over. Water, however is 784 times more dense than air. Water carrying dirt and mud along with it is even heavier. That means that water moving at a walking pace, 2 to 3 miles per hour. is enough to throw you off balance. Don’t take risks, especially if you are detecting alone.

Safety suggestions:

  • Don’t wade deeper than your ankles in swift flowing water or in surf with waves.
  • Venture out with at least one other friend.
  • Wear waterproof boots or waders and thermal socks in cold water.
  • Wear a life jacket.
  • Beware of slippery mud.

Pro Tip: Remember too that rivers and streams can hide fishing hooks and sharp objects.

Other Methods of Metal Detecting in Rivers

There are several variations on river detecting.

One is to use a row boat, kayak, or canoe to sit in while hanging your detector over the side. This will allow you to access small islands, midstream sand bars, and hard to reach spots along the river.

Another variation is the use of powerful magnets. This is called magnet fishing. You tie a powerful magnet to a rope and dip it in the water. Technically, this does not use metal detecting equipment, but it’s good for “fishing” magnetic objects from a boat, from a pier or from a bridge. For more on magnet fishing see Example 1, and Example 2.

Caution: Twice I’ve lost the magnets when rocks, trees, and snags entangle the rope, and you cannot retrieve the magnet.

Finally, always use this rule: Common sense, good judgment, reasonable action.

Do Some Research BEFORE Metal Detecting in a Stream

As I mentioned above (II. Goals), a little research can provide a lot of help in picking a river site.

Use a map application to study the rivers and streams near you. The best places to hunt are near sand banks which are formed by fast moving water.

Look for rivers in narrow canyons that fan out onto a wider, flatter landscape. This is where all the fast moving debris picked up by the swift water will be deposited in the shallows or in a sand bank.

I’m a strong believer in the “treasure is where you find it” mantra. That said, without any mental conflict, I also believe it pays off to know some of the science of river flow.

Figure 4 illustrates a typical mid-stream sand bar with the darker shaded areas representing the higher shear velocity of water, which can be translated into the speed of the water flow. Coins and metals, especially gold are relatively heavy. It takes a lot to move them. When they are on the move, the first slowdown in the current will deposit them into the stream bed.

Where to find GOLD Metal Detecting in a River
Where to find GOLD Metal Detecting in a River

Figure 4. Water velocity around a mid-stream sand bar. Image adapted from article: Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 10, Issue F4, Dec. 2005, “The fluid dynamics of river dunes.”

In this figure there are two places that are best for coin searching. These are 1) the gray areas just to the south and west of the tip of the sand bar, and 2) the gray area near the south-east end. The lighter debris will be deposited in the light areas just to the south of the island.

Figure 5 shows the same prime spots for the down-stream side of underwater sand dunes. These are the best locations to find heavy objects released by the flowing water.

Look on line, too, for news stories of bridges or piers that collapsed or were washed away and not rebuilt. Lots of people drop things off piers and bridges, sometimes by accident, sometimes to discard, sometimes just to make a splash.

Research trails used by the early settlers and see where they crossed the river in shallow areas. Look for open spaces along rivers where travelers might want to rest or camp.

Finding Treasure in a River or Stream Metal Detecting
Finding Treasure in a River or Stream Metal Detecting

Figure 5. Dynamics of underwater sand dunes. Image adapted from article: Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 10, Issue F4, Dec. 2005, “The fluid dynamics of river dunes.”

Feel the Love of River and Stream Metal Detecting

Now, if you will, allow me to take a diversion for a minute to say how thoroughly charming metal detecting can be. This is not just for the finds, but also for the many related fields of study that grow seamlessly into your hobby.

You think you are studying metal detecting and rivers, and soon you’re off into hydrodynamics, physics, weather, geology, and history, to name just a few of the many sciences and skills that can help you in your detecting.

Don’t fight this tendency. Instead learn and appreciate how everything is connected. Who knows? Maybe your next adventure will include rock collecting or hiking. It’s all good!

Find Good Rivers to Metal Detect

Do you have a river near you? Isn’t it a main attraction? People love to congregate around rivers and river beaches.

Rivers have the advantage of carrying a lot of water, and therefore a lot man-made objects along the way. Just be careful of the hazards of fast moving water. (See III. C. Safety concerns, above.)

You CAN hunt in mud, too, but it’s a lot messier and slippery than the sandy parts of the river. It might be better to stick to the clean banks and dunes.

The best places to hunt:

  • The deep hollows carved out of the riverbed at the upstream end of a sandbank.
  • The trailing, downstream end of the sandbank. This is where the most recent deposits will be found.
  • The sudden drop-off of underwater riverbed dunes. This is where turbulent water will release its cargo.
  • The first shallows that appear downstream from a narrow passage or canyon.
  • At sharp turns in the river.
  • At beaches, swimming holes, and parks along the river.
  • Search for areas where bedrock is exposed under the water. Look in the cracks.

Recent studies of river flow suggest the best places to hunt for depth and for deposition of coins and debris. For more on river dynamics, see this study.

Figure 4 shows the deepest gullies to search around sand dunes, and Figure 5 shows the best areas to search in submerged dunes for recent deposits. Again, see the above study for more detail than you could ever use. (Wink!)

Best times to hunt:

  • Shortly after a large storm or surge in river flow.
  • During dry spells where more of the riverbed is exposed.
  • At times when water is cut off or diverted for construction or emergencies.

Sand bars are formed by the deposit of dirt from fast-moving waters at places where the flow slows down, Figure 6. The deepest part of the dune will have the oldest deposits. If there is a small dune made up of sand that you can dig into, this should provide some odd treasures. Be sure you are not breaking any local laws by digging in the river.

Metal Detecting at River Bend
Metal Detecting at River Bend

Figure 6. A good place to start your quest is where a narrow, fast moving section of the river ends in a broad, shallow fan, where the water deposits all its cargo onto the riverbed.

Again, the best places to search are the deep gullies near the upstream end of the sand dune and the sharp drop-off at the down-stream end of underwater dunes. There are also debris collecting areas on the downstream side of large boulders.

What Kinds of Streams are BEST for Metal Detecting?

I find that smaller streams are a great choice for metal detecting. My experience is the little streams are more common, less dangerous, and just as generous in giving up little treasures. Always choose places where people interact with the river.

The best places and times to hunt are about the same as for rivers. Streams generally have more areas of ankle deep water, which is easier to navigate and dig.

A. Starting tips (for both rivers and streams)

  • Prepare yourself with knowledge of the area, from historic research and maps.
  • Bring a small bag or container for your finds.
  • Carry a cell phone.
  • Leave in your car spare gloves, shoes, socks, and pants.
  • Have an effective bug spray,
  • Compass or GPS, and local map.

Finally, do the world a favor. When you come across some junk, dump it in your garbage bag. I see this same error over and over again. A detectorist finds a pull tab and throws it right back into the environment. Probably another thousand dirt fishers will come along and repeat the same error.

In the same vein of service, you’ll find lots of children and curious adults asking about your hobby. Be a good ambassador for the sport and take a minute to explain how it works and how much fun it is.

There are several good articles designed to help you prepare for water detecting. Example 1. Example 2.

B. Follow-up Tips

When you get out of the water, here are some suggestions to make you ventures more successful.

  • If you’ve been in salty or dirty water, rinse off all your equipment. This prevents rust and sticky zippers, not to mention extending the life of your gear.
  • Keep a log of what you’ve found and where.
  • Make note of things you’ve learned for your next trip out.
  • Dump your garbage bag in the trash.

Should You Metal Detect in a River or Stream?

Streams and rivers provide an interesting variation on land-based detecting. It’s relatively easy, especially for small streams and creeks. The finds that you discover are often qualitatively different. There are generally more relics to be found – my personal experience – but plenty of coins and jewelry too.

You may have to add to your collection of tools, such as water sneakers and sand scoops, but these are useful in other aspects of your life too.

Remember the cautions discussed – Be Safe! Fast water can be dangerous, your safety is way more important than any treasure.

Good videos on river detecting:

  1. River crossings:
  2. Gold hunting:
  3. Jewelry detecting:
  4. Ocean detecting:
  5. Relic hunting:
  6. Tips for beginners:
  7. Tourist spots:
  8. Deep and cold water tips:
Vince Migliore_Author Metal Detecting Book

Vince Migliore is a writer and researcher. He has written numerous magazine articles on metal detecting and three books. His latest book is “The Art and Science of Metal Detecting,” available in paperback at Amazon.

Where to Metal Detect in Northern California (MAPS INCLUDED)

Where to Metal Detect in Northern California (MAPS INCLUDED)

California is a wonderful paradise for both metal detecting and scenic beauty. Here we explore some of the more exciting metal detecting sites in Northern California.

When I first came to California, it was on Highway 80 crossing from the Nevada border. That state line is near the summit of the Sierra mountains. The terrain ranged from snow-capped mountains to evergreens on the long, hilly descent into the farmlands of the Central Valley. Then, it was on to the San Francisco coast and the Pacific Ocean. In between there were farms, freeways, factories and floodplains all near the same roadway.

Gold was discovered here in 1849, creating a flood of new settlers, and sparking the dreams of adventure-seekers from all points east.
The only downside of California is that it’s a relatively new state. It doesn’t have the centuries of residents dropping earrings and pennies from their pockets that you see in the eastern states. Statehood came to California in 1850, one year after the Gold Rush.

Metal Detecting for GOLD in Northern California
Metal Detecting for GOLD in Northern California

On the other hand, Northern California probably makes up for the treasure trove deficit by featuring an almost ideal climate. People here love to jog, camp, and hike in the great outdoors, again, spreading their junk and jewelry as they glide by.

Legal Considerations for Metal Detecting in California

There’s an oddly depressing feeling the first time you look up from your detector and see a law-enforcement officer approaching. It happened to me. It’s not scary so much as embarrassing, as I was unaware of the local codes that prohibited me from detecting on what turned out to be police property.

No fines or citations, just a red face.

Before you dig anything up, be sure it’s legal to do so. In general, metal detecting is allowed in state parks but you cannot destroy plants in doing so. There are limits too on mineralogical, historic, and archaeological artifacts. You cannot dig up and remove fossils, minerals for commercial use, or remove a WWII firearm.

You cannot dig in Indian burial grounds. There is a complex mixture of regulations obscure enough to confound the most altruistic dirt-fisher. To find out more, check out the Metal Detecting Hobby Talk web site, for national regulations, and California laws.

Generally, it’s OK to search in National Forests and Federal Bureau of Land Management properties, but metal detecting is forbidden at national monuments. In California this includes the Giant Sequoia National Monument and the Fort Ord National Monument.

Read a little bit more about Metal Detecting on BLM land in this article. Can I Metal Detect on BLM Land?

A general rule is not to dig in manicured lawns. Metal detecting is allowed at almost all beaches. Most parks allow you to metal detect in sandy soil, weeded and undeveloped land and wooded areas, as long as you’re not destroying vegetation or wildlife.

We focus here on a few selected sites as samples of good prospecting areas for the metal detecting hobbyist. The fall into three somewhat broad and overlapping categories:

  • Beaches,
  • Trails, and
  • Forgotten cities.

Beaches and Trails in California for Metal Detecting

Beach detecting is really fun because it’s easy digging, generally quite productive, and you don’t have to worry about park rangers looking over your shoulder. There’s the added pleasure of sea breezes, open vistas, and relatively large search areas.

1. Seacliff Beach, Aptos, CA – Fun Metal Detecting!

If I could define one place that’s perfect for metal detecting Seacliff is it. A beautiful BUSY beach, convenient parking, lots to see and lots of sand for items to get lost in.

Seacliff Beach also has an RV park which makes it perfect for the traveling detectorist. Find a slot right on the beach and get out early and enjoy! Read more at the state park website. Website:

Seacliff Beach CA, for Metal Detecting
Seacliff Beach CA, for Metal Detecting
Image from Google Maps

Cautions for Metal Detecting at Seacliff:

  • Salty sand can play havoc with your ground balance. Be sure to adjust your detector according to the user manual.
  • This is not a sun-bathing beach. The weather is cold, as currents come down from Alaska on the west coast. Most beach activity is near the walkway.
  • The cliffs are very steep overlooking the beach. Use the stairs and roadways to descend to sea level. People have been killed from cliff collapses. See news story:
    The good news is that this is a very popular beach and is well attended. There is a huge RV parking lot on the west end that is about half a mile long and campers visit year-round. The beach continues to the east for about another mile and features an old WWI concrete ship that is quickly deteriorating in the surf.

Notes and Tips for Seacliff Beach:

You can avoid the park fee by driving to the corner of State Park Drive and Santa Cruz Avenue, just north of the park.

Next to the parking lot, which begins at that same corner, is a huge open field where you might want to detect also.

At the south-west corner of the parking lot is a very popular wooden staircase down to the beach. This vista point overlooks the shipwreck at the end of the pier. Well worth the walk!

2. Metal Detecting at Baker Beach, San Francisco, California

Baker Beach California for Metal Detecting
Baker Beach California for Metal Detecting
Image from Google Maps

This is a hugely popular beach and a great place to hunt, as it’s picturesque and close to the city of San Francisco. I’ve been there a few times and it’s usually filled with visitors. Tourists from all over the world tour this area and many choose this beach as their first view of the great Pacific Ocean.
About 400 billion gallons of water flow into and out of SF Bay every day, under the Golden Gate bridge.

Read about the park and plan your visit using the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy webstite – LINK HERE

The tidal action and prevailing winds push all kinds of things onto this beach. (Link:

Hunting tips:

Bring a long-handled sand scoop. It’s fine sand and the long handle will save you a lot of deep-knee bends. Read more about digging tools in this article: Metal Detecting Digging Tools a Complete Guide

Adjust your ground balance for the salty water.

It’s cold and windy out there. Currents in the Pacific come down from Alaska. Bring a windbreaker.

3. Stinson Beach, California – Super Popular makes for Great Metal Detecting

Stinson Beach is wildly popular with both tourists and the locals, and has been the playground for Hippies and Flower Children since the 1960s. Janis Joplin had her ashes scattered there in 1970. Just under and hour’s drive from San Francisco, it offers a whopping 2.4 miles of beautiful beach landscape.

Get to Stinson beach early, particularly on hot days. This beach is close to millions of folks and it seems like everyone wants to cool off. As a part of the National Park Service the beach and grounds are well maintained. Be sure to plan your trip before arriving, I’ve found the the Stinson Beach Website is a great resource.

I found some interesting facts on Wikipedia:

“Stinson Beach is about a 35-minute drive from the Golden Gate Bridge on California’s Highway 1. It is near important attractions such as Muir Woods National Monument, Muir Beach, and Mount Tamalpais. It has a long beach, and the cold water produces fog throughout the year.”

It’s a foggy and cool climate with lots to see and do. You can read some local news about the tidepools :

You need to have the RIGHT kinds of digging equipment for beaches. A METAL DETECTING SCOOP is essential. My most recent favorite is the Hand Held Garrett GAR1600970 (links to AMAZON to check out the prices and reviews)

4. American River – Sweeping for Gold

The American River near Auburn, California is rough-and-tumble country, with steep cliffs, a powerful river, and miles of hiking paths. The terrain is not suited for young children, but it is a great spot to metal detect.

Although the objective is to find coins and jewelry along the trails, there is at least the possibility of hunting for gold. It’s best to have a dedicated gold detector for this. Look for outcroppings of quartz rock in the hills and examine the eroded soil beneath these exposed areas.

With lots of gold history the American River and the town of Auburn can wet you appetite for GOLD.

Metal Detecting on the American River and surrounding area in California
The American River and town of Auburn have lots of history. Chases for Gold and lots of trails to metal detect on.

Don’t forget to stop and “smell the roses” so to speak along these trails. There are no roses to be seen, but the photo opportunities are spectacular. There are some trails that I recommend to metal detect on, the first two with plenty of hiker traffic.

  • Black Hole of Calcutta Trail.
  • Clementine Trail.
  • Quarry Trail.

For families with small children, I would suggest an alternative, such as the many camps that offer amateur gold panning. These sites may be a little more tame, but still offer excellent adventures for the adults.

  • Union Flat Campground, keeps the old time gold mining feel alive. Read more at the website.
  • Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, provide a first hand glimpse at panning for gold. With a metal detector your chances are better searching for gold jewelry. Plan a visit to the park using the States website –
  • Malakoff Diggins State Park, learn about what hydraulic mining was in this 3000 acre park nestled in a pine forest. Metal detecting old tailing piles may actually kick-off a tone on your detector. Even more information can be found at

5. Nevada City – Searching the Cascade Canal Trail

Cascade Trail CA for Metal Detecting
Cascade Trail CA for Metal Detecting – old trails get plenty of foot traffic

This is a particularly interesting trail. There’s not much chance of finding gold here, but the real treasure is an isolated walk in the woods that transports you into the heart of Mother Nature. It’s a canal that transports water from the mountain areas to the foothills of the Central Valley of California. See the web site link above for some come-hither photographs.

From the web page:

“This popular trail offers an almost level walk along a peaceful canal through a forest with many Douglas firs and dogwoods. At 3200′ elevation, it is a bit higher and cooler than many local trails. There are several places along the route where views open up briefly to more distant scenery.”

It’s in Gold Country, so there’s always a chance of finding some hidden treasure, but don’t count on it. Just to keep your imagination alive, though, here’s a story about finding stolen loot in Gold Country: News Link:

6. Pioneer Trail at Hwy 20 – Remote Metal Detecting

This is an alternate trail you might want to consider. It’s not fully developed here because its very remote and probably too difficult for most detectorists. It’s located between Nevada City and Emigrant Gap in California, and marks an old wagon-train trail paralleling Highway 20. This trail might be good for relic hunting.

Note that this is a long trail, headed mostly down-hill. Plan accordingly, as the walk up hill will be a lot more strenuous at this high altitude.

The way I’ve planned my trip is to camp at the White Cloud Campground and plan for a full day of hiking the trail scanning along the way. Use a favorite tip of checking closely by benches and natural rest areas.

Forgotten Cities a FAVORITE Metal Detecting Spot

A great way to find the oldest neighborhoods in any city is to get a vintage map. You can find old maps for about any town on internet sites such as Ebay. Compare the old map to a modern one and you’ll have a good comparison to find the oldest parts of you city.

When I first moved to Folsom, California, I was disappointed to see how few coins I was finding. I got an old 1952 map and found out why. Up until that time Folsom was just a couple square miles in area. By the 1990s it had grown, tremendously, mostly to the south, where I was finding coins no earlier than 1980.

Using a Vintage Map for Metal Detecting
Using a Vintage Map for Metal Detecting

In the year 1900, Sacramento, likewise, had a population of only 30,000, confined mostly between A and X Streets, from the Sacramento River to 30th Street. Today it’s population is over half a million, and the oldest areas remain in that small square, with a few city blocks on the west side of the river, now part of West Sacramento. Figure 9 shows a map of the city from 1900, along with an image of one of the many streets with wide, grassy traffic dividers, good for metal detecting.

7. Old Sacramento / West Sacramento for Metal Detcting

There is a tourist section of town called Old Sac. Old Sacramento is a State Historic Park, so digging there is off limits. The surrounding areas, however, provide ample opportunities for metal detecting. See Figure 10.

Old Town Sacrament
Old Town Sacrament – History means lots of time for folks to drop something
Don’t tear up lawns!

Pristine lawns add glamour to the tourist area of Old Town Sacrament, but just a quarter mile away are undeveloped parks and walkways along old parts of the Sacramento River.

There are long stretches of waterfront that remain undeveloped and the west shore now has a little-used bicycle path. This area, being so old is ripe for finding relics and silver coins. The tourist center is off limits to detecting, but areas near by are waiting for your search.

8. Benicia – Old is Good for Metal Detecting

Benicia is one of the oldest cities in the San Francisco Bay Area, being just the third city to incorporate in the state of California. It was once the state capital, in 1853. Now it’s one of those communities you drive through while going somewhere else. Still, it has a rich history and dozens of great sites for the metal detector.

This is a good place to search for silver and old coins. There is lots of areas with hilly terrain and untouched nooks and crannies just waiting to be explored. See the list of target sites in Figure 12.

Map to Metal Detecting Spots in Benicia, CA
Map to Metal Detecting Spots in Benicia, CA

The weather there is often windy, as breezes from the ocean whip through a narrow break in the coastal range of mountains. This is a sleepy little town yet oddly fascinating.

The End – of this article but Keep Using Your Metal Detector

This has been just the briefest of samplings for metal detecting sites for Northern California. There’s plenty more to say, but we need to keep the articles brief for the sake of reader attention span! Ha, ha! But there are plenty of exciting areas to explore, which we hope to present in the future.

In the meantime, you can learn a lot and be inspired by checking out some the Metal Detecting forums and web sites on the internet.
Some samples:

  • Treasurenet:
  • Metal Detecting Forum:
  • Metal Detecting Hobby Talk (Calif.)

Happy Hunting!

Vince Migliore_Author Metal Detecting Book

Vince Migliore is a writer and researcher. He has written numerous magazine articles on metal detecting and three books. His latest book is “The Art and Science of Metal Detecting,” available in paperback at Amazon.