7 kid-friendly games to play on trail walks and nature hikes

7 kid-friendly games to play on trail walks and nature hikes

Trail walking — one of our favourite activities — can be enjoyed in any season and by virtually all ages and abilities. Most young kids love the freedom of running down paths, climbing on fallen logs, examining animal tracks, and everything else our Canadian trails have to offer.

But, every now and then, little ones need fun distractions to keep them going and it’s handy to have a few games or activities ready to avoid any potential meltdowns (and of course, bringing along snacks and water can buy you extra time on the trails as well).

Inspired by Active for Life role model Karen Ung’s homemade hiking game that makes nature walks with kids easy breezy, we’ve listed a few ideas to keep everyone moving forward and having fun.

Homemade hiking games

1. Giddy up

Thanks to Karen for this idea: she and her kids make hiking more fun by riding “horsies” down the trails, making “gates,” and using secret passwords to go through.

2. Follow the Leader

This simple game is an adaptation of an Active For Life activity. Encourage your child to “lead” you through the trail, over, around, and under obstacles, incorporating as many trees, shrubs, and rocks along the path as possible.

3. Nature scavenger hunt

Create a list of natural treasures and prepare each participant with a bucket and marker. Next step: Hunt! You can find a scavenger hunt template on our Pinterest page. For a fun twist on the scavenger theme try this nature ninja scavenger hunt where the hunt becomes focused on interacting with nature, rather than collecting it.

4. Geocaching

For a tech-savvy update on the nature scavenger hunt, try geocaching in a nearby outdoor space. You can find out if any “caches” are in your neighbourhood trails by visiting geocaching.com.

5. I Spy

Walk and talk your way down the trail by testing each other’s eyesight in nature. If you want to prolong the game throw out “I spy something green” when it’s your turn.

6. Hide-and-Go-Seek: Trail edition

As the “seeker” stays back, the “hiders” run a short distance ahead in search of a safe place out of sight. Be sure to predetermine acceptable boundaries (and don’t forget to look up).

7. Pick up sticks

Something as simple as choosing the perfect hiking stick can give kids a sense of ownership over the trail. Bonus: leaving the sticks at the trailhead can teach little ones to pay it forward and continue the search on the next hike.

Keep these activities in your back pocket for when you sense a mid-hike meltdown coming on. If you have a trick of your own, we encourage you to share it with the AfL community. Happy trails!

2 responses to “7 kid-friendly games to play on trail walks and nature hikes

  1. Glad to see you included geocaching. There are multiple geocaching sites, each has it’s unique twist. Geocaching.com has the most listings and it;s free to create an account but many useful features are reserved for paying members. Opencaching.us has fewer listings but like the name suggests, the site is completely open. You have full access to all features for free. That site also allows for more cache types including webcam caches, virtual caches, guestbook caches, BIT caches and more. Terracaching.com is another caching site which tends to place more emphasis on the geocache location, favoring geocaches placed in scenic remote locations (this is a generalization). They use a points system and have leader-boards which adds a fun competitive twist to the hobby. Most features are free, except a new advanced search feature. Besides those, there is letterboxing which does not require a GPS – its a true treasure hunt and uses clues to guide players to the hidden treasure. The letterbox contains a stamp, usually homemade. Bring a book and ink so you can use the stamp, and be sure you leave the letterbox and stamp exactly as you found them. Please read more about letterboxing etiquette before trying it (a letterboxer may spend 5-20 hours carving a stamp, and they really don’t want to have it lost or stolen!). www.atlasquest.com/about/rules/

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