Sometimes keeping spirits up and minds occupied is more exhausting than hiking. These games and activities will help you and your children stay engaged and interested out on the
trail. Keep scrolling for all 50!
50 Things To Do On The Trail
Follow the leader - Always a classic, use your imagination to spice it up!
Appoint "Park Rangers" to help keep trail clear and safe
Create a scavenger hunt list - this can be done on the fly with general nature items or in advance and more specific to each trail, depending on your level of ambition. Many of our reviews include things to keep your eyes peeled for and can be used as a reference.
Play I Spy - Make it more challenging by adding rules like, "pick something that shares your first initial."
Build a cairn
If there's a bridge, play Poohsticks
Tag blazes or trail markers to "Power Up" when energy lags and a mental boost is needed.
Tell a story or a create a "Pass Along" story - Use a pinecone or acorn to "pass along."
Allow collecting* - We are always reinforcing the tenets of "Leave No Trace" and earth stewardship, but experiential learning in nature is also valuable. Sometimes let them take pinecone home. Use your judgement. This article from the founder of HikeItBaby helped us find our course.
On flats & fields, have a race or play "catch me."
Make a bark rubbing.
Listen to a tree, 10 different ways.
Look for mammal tracks, signs, and scat.
Stand or sit still for 1 minute, just listening - Setting a timer can help "challenge" fidgety kiddo.
Roll down a hill!
Start a nature notebook or sketchbook - Record your findings and observations.
Practice wayfinding using a compass
Use nature to forecast the weather
Look for catkins - Springtime activity, take your allergy meds!
Hunt for woodpecker trees
Pick some flowers for pressing
Look for squirrel dreys - Another Springtime activity
Learn to identify different birdsong and calls
Take a closer look in a pond by pond dipping
Collect frogs eggs, grow and release - Before collecting from any old pond, be sure to research legalities or contact your local environmental agency. Protected areas need to be left alone.
Have a snail race
Dig for earthworms
Find a birds nest - Take photos, sketch or log your findings but do not disturb nests you find!
Collect caterpillars, Watch Lifecycle, and Release - Follow the same principles as frog egg collecting. Be sure to release in the same area you collected from!
Learn to identify butterflies
Take a closer look at an ant colony
Lay down on your back & stare at the sky - Imagine shapes in the clouds!
Collect bird feathers
ABC game - Starting with "A" identify something in your surroundings that starts with that letter. See if you can make it to "Z"!
Animal Walking - Taking turns, the leader chooses an animal and mimics how they'd "walk," and everyone else follows suit.
Bring sketchbook & colored pencils - Watercolors if you're brave.
Rainbow hunt game - Beginning with red, identify objects in your surroundings that match the colors in a rainbow.
Senses Hunt game - Find something you can See, Hear, Touch, Smell, & Taste (bring a snack!).
Geocaching* - Handheld GPS devices can be expensive but this is like the ultimate scavenger hunt.
Paint & Hide Rocks* - Requires a little pre-planning.
Bring disposable cameras - Let your child have full reign in what they choose to photograph. Makes for much more fun
Poetry On the Go - Someone starts an easy 1st line like, "I really love to take a walk..." the next person continues with another rhyme, and so on.
"When You Hear..."game - Choose a trigger sound such as a bird chirp. Line up single file while walking. Whenever the trigger sound is heard, the1st person in line has to run to the back. Great for group hikes!
Have any tried and true games or activities you do on the trail? We'd love to hear from you! Share with us in the comments!