You can detect metal almost anywhere including your own backyard. But, if you want to find more than just rusty nails and screws, you’ll want to expand your knowledge bank with good spots to visit and eventually rotate out.
Prepare to travel, count steps, and mark your grid. Hunting the right spot may mean uncovering a rare, lucrative find.
Here are some site ideas to get you started!
Our Top Places to Metal Detect
First and foremost, get permission to metal detect.
The best spots to hunt are usually privately owned and getting written permission may help with possible legal disputes that may occur as a result of your actions and/or finds. You may be required to get a permit and follow additional policies for that site. Some sites may allow metal detecting but do not allow digging.
Do your legal research first as accidentally trespassing and unlawful metal detecting has serious financial consequences and may impact the metal detecting community.
To help narrow down what sites may interest you, you should also think about what kind of metal you want to find. You won’t find gold if you’re not in gold territory. You may only find modern coins depending on what state and area you’re searching. Relic types will change between battlefields and beaches. The more specific you can be about your goals, the more specific you can be about prospective hunting grounds.
1. Your Own Backyard
This is obvious – you don’t need permission. Your own backyard is a highly recommended place to first test out your new metal detector. Burying objects in the yard and seeing how they respond will help you develop the skills and techniques needed for the field. Plus, you never know what you may find buried beneath your tree hut or trampoline.
It’s common knowledge that many people used to bury their valuables and coins. Look under trees, porches, and gardens.
Lots of people, lots of lost trinkets and coins. Not only is the playground area a good hiding spot for loose change, jewelry, and toys, you should also search around the sidelines where parents sit and belongings are placed down. Think around and under benches, trash cans, parking lots, and picnic tables.
Old and modern school sites will both require permission and detecting at a modern school will have to wait until the holidays while students are not in session. Bleachers, sports fields, and common areas may have good finds.
4. Sports Grounds & Fairgrounds
A lot of people, foot traffic, money, trinkets, and food. This amounts to a possibility of good finds such as coins and jewelry, but there will be a lot of trash too. You should also take extra care not to damage grass and turf while digging. Search the ballfields, under bleachers, around trees, picnic areas, and where vendors would normally be handling products and money.
5. Campgrounds, Scout Camps, Tourist Sites
These locations are good for finding coins. If you’re in a historic area, you may also find some different types of relics or old coins. Don’t forget to search the hot spots in these areas like around swimming holes, restrooms, and parking lots. Permission must be granted, and it’s likely you’ll get it during the off-season. You may be restricted on what types of digging tools can be used.
6. Fishing Areas
You already know of some local fishing hot spots where anglers have been gathering for decades. Old fishing relics may be found along with some coins and junk. Search the trails, entry/exit points, and parking lots as things are often rearranged and lost along the way. Be mindful of those fishing. If you scare the fish away, you’ll likely make those around you very annoyed and unwelcoming.
7. Creeks, Rivers & Lakes
Searching along the shores of these areas may prove to be worth your time. Lakes usually have tons of items that have been lost by visitors and swimmers. Creeks and rivers may have brought gold nuggets, relics, and other goodies that have settled along the banks and underwater. Waterproof search coils are a must-have for these areas.
One of the most popular sites to hunt – the beach. It’s warm, sandy, and you can get a tan while hunting. There are plenty of good finds at the beach from coins to jewelry, and of course, a lot of finds you should be returning to authorities like keys and cellphones. The neat thing about the beach is that it never gets old as a hunting site. The tide consistently brings new and old things in, storms tear up the landscape revealing older things that were deeply buried, and new things are lost all year long by visiting tourists and beachgoers. A beach detector with the ability to ground balance to saltwater and a sand scoop is a must-have. If you want just beach metal detecting tips we have a post for that.
As plain as they may seem, they can often yield up old and valuable objects. Freshly plowed fields have had layers of dirt cycled through bringing deeply buried objects to the surface. Old fields may also have held historical significance as congregational or battlefield sites. Relics, old coins, and caches may be the hot spot find in these spots. Doing some research and getting permission will be key to success.
There are plenty of these sorts of sites across the globe. In the United States, hunting in civil war battlefields may churn up musket balls, old coins, buttons, and other relics and treasure. Other similar sites where Native American war items are found can include Federal land and reservations. Metal detecting on tribal land requires permission and any finds must be returned to the tribe of origin. Europe has its share of battlefields too, and many ancient relics, primitive weapons and tools, and old coins can still be discovered.
11. Old Churches and Burial Grounds
Permission should be sought out for these grounds as you may be able to detect and dig around the church but detect only without digging around gravestones. The rules may be different for every type of church site. Why hunt here? Old coins. Whether a worshipper was buying their eternal rest, supporting the efforts of their religious officials, or simply helping the faith forward, coins and other valuable trinkets were given freely in these meeting houses. Other non-metallic relics may be uncovered as well.
12. Old Historic Buildings & Homes
From buried caches of coins to silver dinnerware and candlesticks, old historic homes and buildings offer a lot of potential for the hobbyist. Even the outhouses and old gardening beds may be promising hot spots. Look under old trees where someone’s annual savings may have been buried or under porches where coins would have dropped through the gaps. The trick to being successful here is to get permission first.
13. Old Sawmills
It’s the camping sites where the men “lived” that you want access to hunt. Coins may be found, but you’ll mostly come across relics such as horseshoes, tools, and old equipment that have long been forgotten.
14. Abandoned Mines
Hunting in these old mines is dangerous as they’re unstable, so you must follow every precaution necessary to ensure your own wellbeing. You may be able to find tailings, ore with gold veins that may have been missed or fallen off the mine cart, and perhaps a few nuggets. You’ll also find plenty of iron items like hooks, rail ties, and old mining lamps.
15. Deserted, Ghost Towns
These types of abandoned sites are great for metal detectorists as there are few people around and a lot of goods waiting to be uncovered. Once bustling trading, transportation, mining, and settling sites, they’re now quiet, eerie, and deserted. Hordes of treasure, old coins, buried caches, and other relics are yet to be found. Check the staples like old trees, around the edges of the foundations of saloons, churches, and marketplaces. These places may have restrictions as historical sites, so do your research on its history and permissions required.
As a beginner and intermediate hobbyist, you want to search for gold nuggets in known gold-paying hunting sites. If gold has been found in the past, it’s likely that gold will be found again.
Placer deposits are usually what a metal detectorist is looking for. These are gold particles that have been freed from their original source along with other minerals like rock and quartz. The separation of gold nuggets and flakes may have occurred naturally by erosion or human activity like past mining. These nuggets are found on the outskirts from the original location as they’ve usually been carried by a body of water where they are deposited and settled along creek beds, old washes, and other similar sites.
Due to all the high concentrations of minerals, a specific gold metal detector with a high frequency to detect even the smallest nuggets while canceling out signals from ground minerals is essential.
17. Swap Meets & Flea Markets
These areas are usually in a public place like a park or showgrounds and fairgrounds. During the off-season, you can contact the owners for permission to hunt. Coins, relics, and other trinkets may be found as vendors and shoppers alike may lose and drop things during the excitement of buying, selling, and strolling.
18. Make-Out Central
Everyone knows of a local make-out central spot usually coined as Lover’s Lane. It may be a lookout point, a dead-end road in front of the woods, or a secluded cave on a beach. Money, jewelry, watches, and who knows what else may be recovered by love birds who aren’t aware that they’ve misplaced their belongings. A lot of junk may be recovered like screw caps and pull-tabs, but there may also be fire pits around that may prove to be worth hunting in. It’s best to hunt these hot spots during the morning when it’s not occupied.
There’s a lot of research required before you go diving with a metal detector. You must have the appropriate gear, an underwater detector, and the know-how of what you’re looking for and where you’re hunting. You can also search coastal beaches where known shipwrecks have occurred. Who knows what may wash up or has been washed up and is ready for the picking.
20. Open-Air Concert Venues
Just as with fairgrounds, there will be plenty of people and often plenty of dinking which may lead to forgotten items or not enough motivation to recover them. That’s your opportunity to get some interesting finds. Just remember to try your best to return them to the owner if there is some way of identifying them.
21. Land Belonging to Friends & Family
Your friends and family may not understand your hobby, but they may be willing to let you detect on their property. You may be surprised that you’re not the only one that’s curious about what lies beneath.
Tips for Asking Permission & Finding New Places
You may be an introvert of a sort who doesn’t enjoy approaching strangers let alone having to ask if you can hunt metal in their backyard. While it may be out of your comfort zone, permission must be sought, or you’ll be severely restricted when it comes to expanding your list of prospective hunting sites.
- Be transparent. Be upfront about what your intentions are, what techniques you will use, what times you will be on their property, and what you intend to do with your finds.
- Be respectful. Plug your holes. Collect trash. Return lost items whenever possible.
- Offer to recover lost property.
- Do your research. If you know historical information about a site that perhaps the property owner isn’t aware of, they may be curious to find out what lurks below.
You don’t have to be smooth-talking or suave to persuade someone to say yes. Be polite and honest, and you may find you have your permission. Your actions may set a good precedent for consecutive detectorists or if you want to return to that site.
If you’re out of ideas of where to hunt or how to meet new people in the hobby, you need a lesson or two in networking. Here are some suggestions.
- Join a local or regional metal detecting club
- Join an online metal detecting forum/community
- Network with friends, family, and social clubs to garner interest. You may find fellow hobbyists who are friends of friends.
- Use social media to spread the word. You may get invites from across the country or the globe.
Metal Detecting: A Great Excuse to Travel
Developing your skills isn’t only exciting in and of itself as you improve your chances of detecting better quality finds, but you can also expand your hunting grounds. Start researching what states or countries have long-time treasure hunts that you can get in on.
You may as well start saving now for the trip of a lifetime and a quality metal detector that can handle the job. Nova Scotia, Florida beaches, Gettysburg – they may be on your list to hunt one day.
Metal detecting – it’s a great excuse to travel!