Top Games for Thru-hikers

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Playing games while hiking can be a blast.  They can challenge your intellect, make you laugh, distract you, and help you get to know your new friends.  We have put together a list of our top games for thru-hikers.

Stinky Pinky

Compliments of Chris Cage, author of How to Hike the Appalachian Trail, this game gets our vote for the funniest and most engaging.  Here’s how it works.  Think of two words that rhyme.  Keep these two words to yourself.  Now, think of a synonym or related word for each of the words.  Share these two words with your friend/s.  It is now up to them to guess your rhyme. For example, you may think to yourself flaccid acid, but you tell your partner/s soft chemical. By the way, no cheating.  You can’t use the internet to look things up.  Where’s the fun in that?  Sometimes it will take you all day to guess the right answer.  One fun thing to do is give a stinky pinky to another tramily you’re leapfrogging with.  The next time you run into each other they may have a guess.  See a list of some of our favorites at the bottom of this article.

Name your Camp

This one gets our vote for the most challenging.  Try to name every campsite you have had, in order, during your thru-hike.  You can play this game for hours, perhaps days, depending on how far you’ve hiked or how poor your memory is.
tents glowing under the night sky at the Canyonlands national park

20 Questions

Think of something.  It could be anything: a person, place, concept, or thing.  Keep it to yourself.  When you’re ready, tell your hiking partner/s to start questioning.  It is up to your partner/s to guess this something within 20 queries.  They can only be yes or no questions, of course.  Most of the time, we needed more than 20 questions to get there.  Thus, we renamed this game “unlimited questions”.

Would you Rather?

This one could certainly be the grossest.  Depending on your creativity, it could go in some weird directions.  Put a simple question to your hiking partner/s.  Would you rather x or y?  Hint: it should be a hard choice.  For instance, would you rather eat moose or bear poop?  Your partner/s can ask some questions about the specifics if things need clarification.  For example, is it fresh?

Top 5

I like this game the best because it can be thought-provoking and often turns into a good conversation.  Here’s how it works.  Turn to your friend/s and say “name your top 5 x”.  For example, it could be something superficial like name your top 5 desserts, or you could dig deeper with a name the 5 most influential people in your life. You will get to know your buddies’ interests, likes, dislikes, most embarrassing moments, dreams, and much more.  It may even teach you something about yourself.  You can also play a variant of this that we simply call “the question game”.  You have probably played this before around the campfire or at a dinner with friends.  For instance, if you could spend the day with a famous person alive or dead who would it be and why?

Movie Stars

This one is only fun if your group is into movies and knows actors and actresses by name.  You pick a movie star.  You say his or her name to the group.  They have to name 5 movies in which he or she stars.  If it is someone who has been in the business for years, like Tom Hanks, you may want to up the ante with 20 movies.  By the way, you can join in if your partner/s are stumped.  To vary this game, you could also choose movie themes.  For example, you could name 5 movies about zombies.  If you really know your movies, you could name a director.

Ice Cream Lives

This one we adopted from another tramily.  It’s a good one but a tad unfair for a klutz.  I bought ice cream a lot.  When you leave a resupply point and get back on the trail, you have 3 lives.  You can lose a life by falling on the trail.  If you lose all your lives before getting to the next resupply point, you have to buy ice cream for the tramily.  You can redeem a life if you almost fall but make a “nice recovery”, or if you do something “nice” like pack out day-hiker trash.
Root beer float.

Fantasy Meal

2 hikers eating at the smoky mountain diner Hotsprings
I love this one because, as a thru-hiker, food is always on your mind.  Pick a meal: breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  Now, imagine your fantasy meal.  We’re talking about whatever you want.  If you want a chocolate fountain, have one.  If you desire a five-course-fine-dining experience, so be it.  Describe this meal to your friend/s.  Remember don’t skimp on the details.  Trust me; we want to hear about it.

Pack Prank

Well, this one can get nasty.  Keep in mind that once you open this can of worms, you can’t close it again.  Get ready for revenge.  Hide an item in your friend’s pack.  Perhaps you could hide a fairly heavy rock, or maybe The Big Book of Bieber.  You decide.  Another tactic is to choose a small item and hide it well.  In fact, you could hide it so well that your friend may not find it for quite a while.  Check your bags, friends.


Let’s face it.  Sometimes you need a diversion while hiking.  Playing games is a fun way to pass the time.  Are there any games you like to play while you hike?  Please share them in the comments.  Happy trails! In the Spring of 2018, we set out to thru-hike the A.T.  To hear our full story, click here.

List o’ Stinky Pinkies:

  • Soft Chemical: Flaccid Acid
  • Scary Poop: Spooky Dookie
  • Smile Dad: Happy Pappy
  • Grumpy Mountaintop: Cynical Pinnacle
  • Sacred Dessert: Holy Cannoli
  • She Wee: Mrs. Sprinkle

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