Simple games to play with your family on a trail or in your backyard!

These Trail Games will help you stay motivated, engaged and foster connection with each other and the environment while hiking on a trail. Created By Amy Arato

Level: All

Duration: Varies

Setting: On a trail or in the backyard


  • Bandana (for What’s Missing?)
  • 2 Egg Cartons (for Trail Taboo)
  • Digital Camera or Phone (for Look Close!)
  • Tree Field Guide, optional (for Tree Hugger)


On-the-Trail Alphabet Game

Decide on an order for players. You can play in age order from youngest to oldest or choose players in order of upcoming birthdays, etc. Have the first player find something along the trail that starts with the letter A. For example, “A is for acorn (or ant or ash…)”. The next player moves on to the next letter in the alphabet. For example, “B is for beetle (or beechnut or bee…)” Keep looking around for ideas! Continue alphabetically in the order you determined. If someone gets really stuck, allow each player one pass to keep the game going. See if you can get all the way through the alphabet!

What’s Missing?

This is a great game for when you take a break along the trail, maybe at lunch or a water stop. While you are hiking, gather several small objects such as a rock, an acorn, a pinecone, a leaf, a petal, etc. Lay the objects in front of your group and ask everyone to look at them carefully. After everyone has had a chance to study the collection, cover it up with a bandana. Ask everyone to close their eyes. Remove one object from the collection and hide it well (in a pocket or under your shoe). Tell the group they can open their eyes. When everyone is looking again, pull back the bandana to reveal the collection. See who can identify the missing object first.

Find 5

As you’re hiking take turns choosing categories that relate to the landscape such as trees, birds, insects, colors or shapes. The first player will call, “Find 5…birds!” (or other category of his or her choice). See if you can work together to find five different birds. When that is accomplished, have the next player pick a new category.

Tree Hugger

This game will help you learn and build on your tree identification skills as you hike and play. You may want to have a tree field guide for reference. One player begins as the Tree Master. The Tree Master calls out the name of a tree to hug, such as “Hug a…Maple!” Each player has to find a maple to hug. The last player to find a maple is out. Continue until there is only one player left in the game. That person becomes the next Tree Master.

Trail Taboo

Split your group into two teams. Each team will get an egg carton with two words on the bottom, one on the right side and one on the left. Some words to consider using are: round/square, curly/straight, rough/smooth, hard/soft, green/brown, black/white, sharp/tickly, living/nonliving, etc. As you hike, each team will work to find six small objects along the trail that help define each word. At the end of the hike have the groups share their collection to see if the other group can guess what their words were.

Look Close!

Have someone in your group walk ahead on the trail and take a super close-up picture of something with a digital camera or phone. Try not the have the entire object in the frame so it is not easy to identify. For example, you can take a picture of a certain knot in a tree branch, lichen on a boulder, dew drops on a leaf, etc. When the rest of the group catches up, have the photographer show the picture. Then he or she will define an area approximately 10’x10’ to search. Look closely! Who can figure out what the picture is? The person who solves it gets to be the next photographer!



Wrap Up:

How did you like this activity? Please share any questions, comments, or photos that you and your child have on the Raritan Headwaters Learning Community Facebook Page!

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