.thoSometimes 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

  1. Follow the leader – Always a classic, use your imagination to spice it up!
  2. Sing – Any old song will do. Some of our favorites are call & response style; anything Ella Jenkins – check out Jambo & Get Moving.
  3. Bring binoculars, field guides, magnifying glasses.
  4. Appoint “Park Rangers” to help keep trail clear and safe.
  5. 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. For a free hunt printable, click here. To shop our Nature Hunt Inserts & Nature Boards, click here
  6. Play I Spy – Make it more challenging by adding rules like, “pick something that shares your first initial.”
  7. Build a cairn.
  8. If there’s a bridge, play Poohsticks.
  9. Tag blazes or trail markers to “Power Up” when energy lags and a mental boost is needed.
  10. Tell a story or a create a Pass Along” story – Use a pinecone, stick, or acorn to “pass along.”
  11. Allow collecting* – We are always reinforcing Leave No Trace” and earth stewardship, but experiential learning in nature is also valuable. Sometimes just let them take those pinecones home. Use your judgement. This article from the founder of HikeItBaby helped us find balance.
  12. On flats & fields, have a race or play “catch me.”
  13. Measure a tree, try to calculate its age.
  14. Make a bark rubbing.
  15. Listen to a tree, 10 different ways.
  16. Look for mammal tracks, signs, and scat
  17. Stand or sit still for 1 minute, just listening – Setting a timer can help “challenge” fidgety kiddo.
  18. Roll down a hill!
  19. Start a nature notebook or sketchbook – Record your findings and observations.
  20. Hunt for mosses and lichens
  21. Practice wayfinding using a compass
  22. Skip stones.
  23. Use nature to forecast the weather.
  24. Look for catkins – Springtime activity, take your allergy meds!
  25. Learn to identify trees by leaves or bark.
  26. Hunt for woodpecker trees.
  27. Pick some flowers for pressing
  28. Look for squirrel dreys – Another Springtime activity.
  29. Learn to identify different birdsong and calls.
  30. Take a closer look in a pond by pond dipping.
  31. 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.
  32. Have a snail race.
  33. Dig for earthworms.
  34. Find a birds nest – Take photos, sketch or log your findings but do not disturb nests you find!
  35. 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!
  36. Learn to identify butterflies
  37. Take a closer look at an ant colony
  38. Lay down on your back & stare at the sky – Imagine shapes in the clouds!
  39. Collect bird feathers.
  40. ABC game – Starting with “A” identify something in your surroundings that starts with that letter. See if you can make it to “Z”!
  41. Hug a Tree!
  42. Animal Walking – Taking turns, the leader chooses an animal and mimics how they’d “walk,” and everyone else follows suit.
  43. Bring sketchbook & colored pencils – Watercolors if you’re brave.
  44. Rainbow hunt game – Beginning with red, identify objects in your surroundings that match the colors in a rainbow.
  45. Senses Hunt game – Find something you can See, Hear, Touch, Smell, & Taste (bring a snack!).
  46. Geocaching
  47. Paint & Hide Rocks
  48. Bring disposable cameras – Let your child have full reign in what they choose to photograph. Makes for much more fun
  49. 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.
  50. “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!

 

*These are hotly debated subjects in the Leave No Trace world.