Finding legal places to metal detect can sometimes be a challenge, especially if the idea of asking an owner for permission to metal detect goes past your comfort level.
Fortunately, there are many places you can legally metal detect without permission - and we'll share some resources for how you can discover these sites!
Why Do You Need Permission Before Detecting on Private Land?
Many people who metal detect quite seriously often will tell you the best places to go metal detecting is on privately owned land. There are a lot of reasons this is true. The main benefit being the site hasn't been hunted before. The second reason? With the owner's blessing, you can likely keep whatever you may discover.
Many people wonder why getting permission is so important. Well, there are a lot of good reasons why getting permission is a good practice.
First of all, it is a safety reason. Some owners can be downright terrifying and dangerous should you go on their property without their permission, especially if they are the gun wielding types.
Second of all, not all places are fair game or even legal to go metal detecting at. Often times on public or government owned land, anything you may discover could be confiscated.
You may even get in a LOT of trouble financially and legally if you are metal detecting in a place where it is illegal. That doesn't sound like much fun!
While I certainly understand the desire to scout these types of places for metal detecting, it's also very easy for me to understand why you might NOT want to hunt on private land that requires you to get permission from owners.
The Introverted Metal Detectorist Dilemma
As an introvert myself, I know first hand it can be very awkward to talk to strangers.
The thought of knocking on a stranger's door and saying, "Hi, can I metal detect here?" sounded absolutely terrifying to me. Aside from wearing this t-shirt I saw on Amazon and hoping someone would approach me, I had no idea how to strike up the conversation naturally.
Not to mention, I personally am not really a naturally convincing or smooth talking type of person to begin with. I can barely convince my kids to clean their rooms.
Of course, the more extroverted and experienced metal detectorists out there will tell you this is a silly and irrational fear.
While I've warmed up to the idea of not being afraid to approach strangers, it's still not my ideal situation. I personally would much rather go to a place I can legally metal detect without dealing with people whenever possible!
Fortunately, a lot of options exist, and we'll talk about seven great ways to metal detect legally without permission and how you can research and find them in this post.
Yes, You CAN Find Places to Metal Detect That Don't Require Permission from an Owner
Yes, places where you can metal detect without permission DO actually exist!
As long as you are willing to do your research, you will be able to easily find many public places you can legally metal detect without necessarily needing to get owner's permission.
In some states, all you need to do is simply register at the park office or apply for a permit if required. Other places, you may not even need to do this. This is definitely a lot less scary than knocking on stranger's doors if you are an introvert like me.
When I first started, I really did not know where I could metal detect. I had not yet joined any metal detecting clubs, so it really was a bit difficult to figure out the best places to go near my house.
Fortunately, I discovered there are a lot of great places to go metal detecting. And best of all, if you learn how to network well using some of these tips I have listed here, you'll never have to start off with random strangers.
Instead, you will find you are always making new friends and meeting acquaintances who will gladly give you permission to hunt and explore new sites.
Places to Research for Metal Detecting Locations
While this list will give you a good idea of places that are completely legal to metal detect - please keep in mind that laws and rules will vary from state to state in the U.S. - and none of these rules may apply in other countries outside of the United States. Laws also may change from the time this article was written.
ALWAYS do your own due diligence and research before going to a new metal detecting site! Laws and rules are always changing, and so while I will make my best attempt to keep this list updated, things may change in the future that I am not aware of.
1. Local Parks & Recreational Spots
The first place to start researching is at the township, city, and county levels of where you live. For example, there are a number of township and city owned parks nearby where I live.
Some of the parks do not allow any form of metal detecting, which is quite sad indeed. However, there are a few that not only allow it - they encourage it! One of our local parks regularly has a metal detecting booth during community events to let people try metal detecting there!
2. State Parks
I live in Pennsylvania, so it was also very helpful for me to check with the state laws on metal detecting, especially since I very much enjoy going to the state parks.
I learned that I could easily metal detect at a number of PA state parks as long as I registered at the office and stayed away from known historic spots with artifacts. This was certainly a lot less daunting than the idea of knocking at stranger's houses as a beginner.
In Pennsylvania state parks, the most important rules to remember are the states do NOT allow you to use a metal detecting shovel - if you are digging in dirt, you are only permitted to use ice picks or screw drivers only. You will also need to make sure you register at the park office and of course report any artifacts or items of historical interest.
I also talked to the person who I bought my metal detector from. This was near Lake Erie, and he told me all the ins and outs of metal detecting rules along the shorelines of Lake Erie in Pennsylvania.
He helped me feel a lot more comfortable about detecting on the beach there. He was also quite excited to show me some of the things he found!
While my state parks are relatively metal-detecting friendly, this does not necessarily mean your state parks will allow you to detect there. It's important to know state laws vary greatly from one state to the next. ALWAYS check your state's laws or stop by the park office to know more.
3. National Forests
Many national parks allow metal detecting. The U.S. Forest Service guide here is very helpful to go over the guidelines of what is allowed and not allowed in national forests and recreational areas.
As long as you are not in any historic areas or digging up historic artifacts, you are likely able to metal detect and find some great more recent finds. This is great to find more recent items like lost jewelry, coins, and other interesting items.
4. Family and Friends
The next way I extended my list of places to go metal detecting nearby was to reach out to family and friends. Yes, you do need to ask your family and friends before you start walking around their yard, but asking them isn't nearly as intimidating as asking random strangers you don't know.
For example, my parents don't live too terribly far away, and their house was quite old and had a very interesting history. I also knew it had an outhouse at one point - I remember as a kid the day my parents tore it down!
Next was to talk to the extended family - aunts, uncles, cousins, and the like. I let them know I was excited to start metal detecting and asked them if they would like to come practice with me in their yard to try it out.
Some thought it was pretty cool - others looked at me as if I told them I had 4 heads. Of course, I've never really had an exceptionally supportive family who ever found anything I enjoy exciting like I do!
I also found I had several friends interested in the prospect of metal detecting, simply by posting on Facebook that I was going to start learning how. I got a few invites, across the country, to come visit anytime and metal detect! So, I am sure I will take up those offers very soon in the next few months.
5. Metal Detecting Clubs
This is another great way to meet new friends and network with people who are willing to give you permission to metal detect on their property. They may also have a list of nearby places where you can metal detect legally.
One of the main advantages of joining one of the clubs near me is it opens up the ability to metal detect legally at two public parks where you cannot normally get access or permission. You simply register with the park as a club member and you're all set to metal detect!
6. Network to Meet New People
The best way to not be knocking on stranger's doors is to network with new people. I've found by getting involved at my kid's schools, as well as a number of other social clubs that meet up regularly.
Networking to meet new people really opens up the door to making new friends and meeting people who will find it fascinating that you metal detect.
7. Offer to Recover Lost Items for People
This is another popular technique to get permission without necessarily needing to beg people or convince them to let you do so - in fact they'll most likely be begging you to come out and metal detect.
It can be tricky, but often times you can do word of mouth marketing, especially on social media sites and free classifieds sites like Craigslist.
It's up to you whether you charge anything - some people are glad to give you a reward, especially if the item had significant monetary or sentimental value. Many people simply do it for free for a chance to detect somewhere new and the joy it brings to find something someone has lost.
You can also consider joining a site like Ringfinders.com to see if that might help you find some ideas for people you can help to go metal detecting.
As you can see, there are a lot of great ways to not only metal detect legally, but open the door to meeting new people and making new friends. These friends and new contacts can very easily turn into people who are as equally as excited about metal detecting as you are!
Do you have any resources for places you can legally metal detect without permission? Any tips you would like to share with new metal detectorists who are nervous about finding private lands to hunt on? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!