If you’ve been on metal detecting forums or searched YouTube for videos on the subject, you probably already know that parks are very, very popular spots to hunt. But, should you just walk into a park and start swinging? You could, sure, but I’d knock out the places with the best chances of good finds, first. Let’s look at a few.
Sometimes called tot lots, these sandy or barky areas of parks are great areas to detect, particularly around swing sets. Many a ring has fallen off when a parent was pushing a child in a swing. Some detectors prefer a ground balance when moving to playground substrate from grass, but if your machine doesn’t have that capability, swing whatcha got.
I have found quite a few items that didn’t look as if they belonged on a ball field, particularly in the outfield. One local baseball field gave up quite a few quarters. Most of them were way, way out in left field–literally. Okay, it was right field, but you get the point. I also found a 1944 Walking Liberty half-dollar right behind a dugout. Search those ball fields.
AROUND BASKETBALL COURTS
All kinds of people take stuff out of their pockets before playing a little hoop. Sometimes, that stuff is forgotten or lost, and waiting for a keen detectorist to come by and swoop it up. Also, lots of folks sit on the sidelines to watch games and when they do, stuff falls out of their pockets. It’s worth hunting the perimeter of a basketball court. I have also found things around volleyball courts.
If you are familiar with the park and know where folks lay down blankets and picnic in the summertime, it’s worth your while to hunt that area. Picnicking families lose all manner of things. These areas can be large, so take your time and swing slow and low. It’s also a good idea to grid the area off in your mind, so you aren’t skipping spots or hunting them several times.
TABLES AND GAZEBOS
Obviously, tables and gazebos are meant for people. Wherever there are people, there are lost items. If the park isn’t too crowded and you can get close to table or gazebo areas, I recommend hunting the them. These areas tend to be heavy on pull-tab mining, but if you want the good stuff, you’ve got to dig the trash. Right? Right.
What kid doesn’t like a good hill to roll down? Just the other day, a buddy and I hit a local park for some swing time. I chose an area just outside the tot lot pretty much at random and started detecting. There was a decently steep hill just in front of me, and I thought what the heck. I started hunting it and wow! Did it ever produce. I couldn’t walk two feet without finding three or four coins. Definitely don’t say no to hills.
If there is a pool area in the park you are hunting, don’t neglect to detect around it. Thousands of rings and other valuables have been dropped and lost by people hanging around pools. I’ve heard some really decent stories about finds around park pools.
UNDER AND AROUND TREES
I almost always find something around a tree. The only problem is that under trees, there are usually nasty roots to contend with. That makes digging tough but if you can stick it out, there are good things under the shade of park trees. I rarely detect around a tree in a park and find absolutely nothing.
PARKING LOT GRASS STRIPS
This one is a biggie, and not just for parks. Folks approaching the parking lot dig for their keys and sometimes other things fall out of their pockets in the process. Always search grassy areas right around a parking lot.
TOTALLY RANDOM AREAS
I know this one may not seem helpful, because it basically translates to ‘search the entire park’, but that’s exactly what we are supposed to do. After you’ve hunted all the so-called hotspots, choose a random area of the park, grid it off in your mind, and start swinging. If you make a practice of doing this, the good finds will come to you.
Also, I’d like to note that just because a certain area of the park isn’t producing anything doesn’t mean it won’t cough up some goodies in another. There is literally no way to tell what is in the ground waiting for us unless we hunt the entire place. Makes sense, right? I know some folks are prone to give up on a great big area because a small part of it isn’t producing finds. Don’t do that. Stick it out and keep swinging that coil.
Happy hunting, all!
Dig Deeper: For more great tips from Derek Odom, check out METAL DETECTING BACKPACK: WHAT TO KEEP INSIDE