How to Find Places to Metal Detect
Metal detecting and fishing enthusiasts have a lot in common. Both groups have their favorite spots to frequent, use specialized equipment to maximize results, and love getting outside to pursue their passions.
When you want to go fishing, you typically need to purchase a license. Metal detecting doesn’t have that administrative requirement, but that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear to go anywhere you want.
Some locations might require you to apply for permits if you want to do some metal detecting. Others could ask for fees or to limit access to daylight hours.
Knowing how to find places to metal detect in your community takes these issues into account while helping you discover new spots to cast a line, so to speak.
Where Are the Best Places to Use a Metal Detector?
Anywhere you have open ground is an opportunity to use PANCKY® PK0075 Metal Detector. Please remember that you cannot enter someone’s property without obtaining their explicit permission first.
It also helps to check local, state, and national laws to ensure metal detecting activities are allowed where you want to explore.
“Metal detecting is permitted only within specific parts of approved state parks that permit the activity,” said Diana Dupuis, Director of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. She oversees over 120,000 acres that include 124 properties and parks. 
That includes Deception Pass State Park, which was recently voted the fifth-best in the United States. About 30 of the current properties are open to metal-detecting activities. 
“We have information and registration needs posted at the park. If no info is posted, then that park doesn’t permit that activity,” said Dupuis.
Dupuis also says that anything with archaeological or historical significance cannot be retrieved from state park properties. “We ask that everyone report all findings immediately to a park employee and that they do not further disturb the area.”
Here are some of the best spots to take a metal detector when you’re ready to hunt for hidden treasure.
On your own property. It’s not as exotic as visiting a beach, but some of the best places to use a metal detector are in your front or back yard. Properties with more than a century of continuous use offer a lot of promise for finding coins, jewelry, and more interesting items.
Public and Private Schools.This option is often available during the weekend when the school isn’t operating. You can search open fields and playgrounds, sometimes just by showing up with your equipment. Please remember to get permission to be on private land before starting to explore.
Sports Fields.Players and parents often lose items while participating in or watching events. Pay close attention to the sidelines, where people tend to coach or sit for the best results.
“I have found plenty of coins and a few rings while setting up my bench for my girls to play,” said Beth Sandlin, Academy Director of North Whidbey Soccer Club in Oak Harbor, WA. “It’s not just on grass fields either. Many of our games are on turf, and the kids have brought everything from whistles to silver quarters they’ve found while warming up.”
“It only makes sense to bring a metal detector to these locations,” said Sandlin, “especially when you can visit after a large tournament where hundreds of teams and thousands of people are present for a weekend.”
Top Spots to Take a Metal Detector in Every Community
When you have your PANCKY® PK0075 Metal Detector packed and ready to use, you’ll discover a few tempting targets for your next treasure hunt. Every town and neighborhood has a few places where you can typically find something, which makes you want to keep pushing forward with this activity.
It doesn’t take long to run out of local places to search, especially if you have an interest in finding specific items. Why not travel to a nearby town to repeat the process?
Although every town is different or offers unique spaces to manage, these options tend to be available nearly everywhere.
Use Metal Detectors at the Town ParkPublic parks are often the most accessible location to use a metal detector in each community. Even the smallest towns typically have at least one park. If you visit a city of at least 25,000 people, you’ll typically have more than a dozen to search.
If you spend one day thoroughly searching a park, you’ll have several months of exploration to plan when you consider each nearby community.
Some parks require permits for metal-detecting activities. You can check with the city website or local parks and rec commissioner to determine if anything is needed before getting your equipment out there. 
Remember – the impact you make while searching a park with your metal detector could impact how others can do the same in the future.
National Forests and BLM LandIf you’re lucky enough to own a property that adjoins to Bureau of Land Management land, you have plenty of metal detecting opportunities to enjoy without going anywhere.
National forests in the United States operate a little differently. They’re a lot like state parks, but they’re developed for public use. There won’t be as many treasures to find, even along popular trails, because fewer visitors come to these spots.
The advantage of finding these places nearby is that you don’t need permits or permission in almost every circumstance. You can typically collect small artifacts, minerals, and rocks. The only exception would be a find of historical value.
If you want a stress-free place to search for treasure, head to these areas.
Search for Gold at the BeachYou can usually find someone with a metal detector at the beach. It’s a great spot for finding everything from old coins to gold.
It’s also a lot easier to dig in the sand and backfill the holes after you’ve found something.
You won’t find much at public beaches that receive daily or weekly raking. The best options are rustic or undeveloped areas with good access, but natural management is the preferred way to maintain the sand.
Saltwater beaches, especially in the Pacific Northwest, provide excellent exploration opportunities with metal detectors. Another great option in North America is the Great Lakes.
“You often find bottle caps and aluminum cans when using metal detectors at the beach,” said Jim Brouwer, author of The Gold Beneath the Waves: Treasure Hunting the Surf and Sand. “Finding gold on the beach or in the surf with a metal detector is not luck. Successful hunters hunt hard and earn every gold ring.”
Brouwer says he found over 130 gold items in only nine months of searching beaches in 2008. “Treasure hunting is exciting,” he said, “and finding a gold ring and doing the ring dance is great fun!”
Even if you don’t find any treasures, your metal detector can find the trash that people leave behind. When you can leave the area a better place than when you found it, you still feel like you’ve accomplished something.
Searching Rivers and StreamsA riverbed, a creek bank, or even a small stream can be a great place to bring your metal detector. The best spots are where the river is shallow enough that you can dig without getting into deep water.
If you bring a metal detector to these locations, please remember to use waterproof equipment and waders for the best results.
Rivers and streams carry things because of their currents. You never know what might be found because someone could drop something anywhere along the route and have it come to your metal detector.
The issue when searching rivers, creeks, and streams is that most access to the water is on private land. If you are on state-owned property, you’ll need to review the legality of your presence there before continuing.
Some places consider the actual waterway to be public land, like a national forest. In that situation, you can typically remove anything as long as it doesn’t carry historical value.
Please remember to take your time when searching rivers or any place with moving water. Digging can be tricky since the current can move the soil and sand. Spring searches can involve very cold water, so wearing insulative gear ensures that you can have some fun without dealing with hypothermia.
Old Churches and Their GroundsMost churches will let you use a metal detector on their properties if you’ve first obtained permission from the congregation or its leadership.
Older churches are one of the best places to search for unique coins and artifacts.
“People tend to gather at churches at least once per week, and many congregations have been in the same place for multiple generations,” said Simon Chan, an event organizer and travel blogger with Adventures Unlimited. “Each step you take is filled with history. If you have permission to bring a metal detector to look for items, the historical value of the effort can be a life-changing experience.”
The best places tend to be where buildings used to experience high traffic, but they have become abandoned for some reason.
Whenever someone is moving, there is an opportunity for them to lose something. Small coins or jewelry items tend to be the most likely items found because they’re easily overlooked.
Consider Your Town’s History When Finding Places
When you have a sincere interest in finding fun (and potentially prosperous) hunting grounds, think about where to go in the same way a fisherman looks at open water.
There could be fish underneath the surface anywhere, but the best schools tend to populate in specific areas. When you know the signs and signals of this behavior, it’s easier to cast a line in the right spot to get a big catch.
Metal detecting follows the same thought process, but from a community-based perspective. Where are the historical areas of the town where you can bring your PANCKY® PK0075 Metal Detector?
The following suggestions are excellent options for hunting locations.
Abandoned homes and buildings.
Pubs, bars, and saloons.
Old battlefields, forts, and military encampments.
Places where crime stories, such as an unsolved robbery, occurred.
Local landmarks and various visitor points of interest.
Meeting places or halls for different civics groups, such as the Elks Club.
Old mines and quarries.
Locations where flooding, fires, or natural disasters destroyed buildings.
If you don’t know the location of these areas in your hometown, the best place to start looking is at your local library. Ask for information or the section on local history, then look for stories about various sporting events, celebrations, or popular places.
The older a hunting location is without traffic in a town, the better the potential results could be when taking your metal detector out for a spin.
A Town’s Maps Can Take You to Unique TreasuresCities use tourism to drive revenues and create profit-making opportunities for local businesses. One tool that many communities use to tempt people to visit is a map.
Local maps often use points of interest to show you where the best opportunities for fun are available if you stop for a day, a weekend, or longer. If the town’s website doesn’t offer this information, try searching the site for the local Chamber of Commerce.
Some places to consider looking for on these maps include picnic areas, fairgrounds, and sightseeing spots. Anywhere there is a potential gathering place is a possible site for taking your metal detector out for an adventure.
Another option is the commercial districts in a town. If there is a shopping mall with public access areas, you can often find some incredible things. Bus and light rail terminals in urban zones are also excellent spots for metal detecting.
Modern maps can be a compass for where you want to go, but the best results often come from older paper ones.
Historic Maps Offer a Treasure Trove of Information“Some of the events that we enjoy together, such as the Camino de Santiago, have seen travelers follow the same path for centuries,” said Chan. “When we travel, we’re focused on experiencing the local culture and experiencing history with each step.”
Older towns have paper maps that can be several hundred years old. If you’re searching in the United States, the best options are along the East Coast, as some towns there have nearly 400 years of history to explore.
If you take your metal detector to Europe or the Middle East, you can find areas with continuous settlements that date back 2,000 years or more.
In Egypt and China, your historical opportunities trace back even further.
As a treasure hunter, the danger you face when hunting on historic properties is that you won’t get to keep what you find. Artifacts are often turned in for an examination, and many jurisdictions require all rights to be turned over in exchange for a metal detecting permit.
It depends on why you’re active as a metal-detecting enthusiast. Are you trying to turn this activity into a side hustle, or do you get satisfaction by bringing a piece of lost history back to the light?
Historical maps aren’t always easy to find. The library is an excellent starting point for most metal-detecting enthusiasts. Another spot is the county assessor, who would have access to old surveys and other valuable information.
You might need to submit a public records request to receive some information. The process is similar at each location, but there could be some local rules to follow. 
Looking for Treasure Along Old Railroads and HighwaysAbandoned rail lines and highways can be excellent places for taking a metal detector. Although you can go for a long time without finding anything, there will also be moments when you’ll discover groupings of different artifacts.
In the past, people used to hop on the rails for easy transportation across the country. These groups would find flat spots along the railroad line to camp, which means there are opportunities for some unique finds. 
The same principle applies to abandoned streets and roads. Try looking for spaces where people would gather, like a rest stop. You’re less likely to find items along open stretches, although there is always a slight chance that something could have been tossed from a car window.
When searching for items along old railroad lines, you’ll want to watch for the burnt clinker and hot rocks from the steam engines. These can set off false positives with some equipment, which ultimately wastes your time.
If you can find the location of old railroad stations, you might find some promising areas around old structures. A lot of money changed hands to travel this way before personal vehicles, so several potential items could have slipped through the cracks.
Metal Detecting at Sports FieldsSports fields encompass dozens of acres. Even a small area gives you plenty of room with which to work with your metal detector.
The best place to start looking is around the bleachers. When people sit and stand frequently, some things can spill out of their pockets.
Don't forget about the dugout if you’re at a baseball field.
“Our players have pins they put on their backpacks for each tournament they attend,” said Sandlin. “We see those items falling off all the time. Our sport also requires jewelry to be taken off before playing, and it’s not unusual for those items to be forgotten.”
Since the most popular areas tend to be filled with tabs and cans, it helps to look in the spots where less activity occurs. According to Sandlin, here are the spots where she sees people gathering when watching her games or soccer classes.
- Next to Trees or Fences. “It gets hot watching soccer in the summer, so many parents gather underneath shade trees,” Sandlin said. “You’ll see entire families gather for picnics while their kids play. Even the casual observer likes to lean against a tree since that’s more comfortable that being on the sideline.”
- Behind the Goals or Posts. Parents often gather behind home plate to cheer on their kids while playing baseball. In soccer, goalkeepers often take off items, then forget about them after. “I usually have my team meetings after a game behind the goals to be out of the way for the next group,” said Sandlin. “I know I’ve lost more than a few items during the moments, especially with a younger team.”
- Around the Concessions. Any place where money exchanges occur can be an opportunity for coins to jingle loose. Although you might not find anything significant, there is always the occasion when you might run into something unique.
“My husband once found a 1923 quarter in a vending machine when buying water after coaching a game,” said Sandlin. “When lots of people are around, you never know what decisions they’ve made to keep themselves comfortable or to make a statement.”
Anything with more than modern value often requires paperwork and an opportunity to find the item’s owner.
How Long Do I Have to Wait for Ownership of Lost Items?You struck figurative gold and found a Liberty silver dollar in excellent condition from 1922. It slipped out of its protective container, has high relief, and gets evaluated at a price above $1,500.
What happens next?
In most jurisdictions, you have seven days to have the item appraised and submitted for evaluation. This process might include having the information about your find published in the local newspaper. 
The goal is to notify the original owner of the item in a reasonable way. 
Once you’ve been a guardian of the item for a specific time, which is often 30 to 90 days to wait, then the ownership rights transfer to you.
Although this process is somewhat inconvenient, it also removes any doubt about item ownership. You know for certain that what you’ve found is now yours to keep.
Code of Ethics for Metal Detector Enthusiasts to FollowThe principle of leaving no trace applies when taking a metal detector out for a day of exploration. Your goal is to find items, then return the ground to its original condition whenever possible.
If you’ve ever been to a popular park for metal detector enthusiasts and found hundreds of tiny holes in the ground, you’ve seen how much damage this activity can cause.
It only takes a few moments to return the sand or soil. This step, along with several others, is part of the code of ethics that the metal-detecting community is asked to follow.
Here is the complete metal detector’s code of ethics for you to review.
- I shall always review local, county, precinct, state, and national laws before searching for anything with my metal detector.
- I will always respect a person’s or a company’s private property and not perform metal detecting activities without the owner’s permission.
- I shall protect and appreciate the heritage of my natural resources, including wetlands and wildlife, so that my activities are not disruptive to Mother Nature in any setting.
- I will fill any excavations or holes created while hunting for treasure with my metal detector.
- I shall not litter in any circumstance.
- I will not destroy any property, including structures or buildings, even if the area seems deserted.
- I shall not tamper with any equipment, structures, or signs I may encounter while performing metal-detecting activities.
- I will respect gates as I have found them, which means a closed gate represents a barrier to entry for a property.
- I shall always use consideration, empathy, courtesy, thoughtfulness, and integrity when taking my metal detector to public places.
- I will attempt to find the legal owner of items I find while using my metal detector, including filling out Found Property Reports, Police Reports, and other paperwork. Only after an owner is not found within a specified time limit will I have the opportunity to file a claim.”
A Final Thought on Finding Places for Metal Detecting
The best places for metal detecting are the ones that you feel comfortable exploring. For some people, that means a trip to the backyard or a local beach.
For others, they might take their PANCKY® PK0075 Metal Detector across the country to enjoy a unique treasure hunt.
There is no right or wrong answer beyond ensuring you have permission to be there with your equipment. If you want access to private property, most owners will let you explore just by asking. Should you find something, you might offer to split the profits for allowing the activity.
Metal detecting lets you experience the joys of hunting for treasure without relying on a map. Although it would be easier to find where to dig where “X” marks the spot, that would eliminate most of the fun.
Even if you don’t discover anything, there could be opportunities to meet like-minded people who love the same things. Finding a friend is just as valuable as anything you might dig up.
And who knows – after you’ve finished with your metal detecting, you might have some extra time to do some fishing.