Ideas for Fun Walking and Hiking Games

Kids hiking on a forest trail

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Keep whines away during a hike or walk with kids by playing walking games. These simple activities help children stay interested and engaged when you are taking a family hike or simply walking to school or the playground. They don't require any preparation or props, and they are great for kicking off conversations with your kiddos too!

Reasons to Try Walking Games

A long walk is a great way to get some exercise, relieve stress, and explore the outdoors. Walks and hikes are the perfect opportunity for family members to spend time together and make memories as well.

To help kids stay occupied and engaged during a walk, consider turning it into a fun game. Fitness challenges are another way to get the most out of your walk. By adding intervals, sprints, or inclines, you've transformed your evening stroll into a powerful workout.

Walking Game Ideas for Kids

  • 20 Questions: Hide a small object (something from your bag, or that you find along the trail or sidewalk) in your hand and have kids try to figure out what it is.
  • Catch! Bring a small ball with you and toss it from person to person as you walk. Keep count and see how long your streak can get before dropping the ball.
  • Count Off: Pick something to keep track of, from red cars to dead trees. Make it a contest or collaborate, whichever is more appealing to your crew of walkers.
  • Count Up: Bring a pedometer and try some pedometer activities.
  • Follow the Leader: Similarly, play follow-the-leader. The leader adds an element to the walk, like an arm motion, a sound, a hop, or so on. Everyone behind has to follow along. Or, to make the game more challenging, have each new leader add a new element while keeping all the old ones going.
  • Ghost: This is a spelling game suitable for older kids. The challenge is to add letters to a word fragment—but not be the one to complete the word. Start with a random letter, and then each player takes turns adding new letters. They must be legitimate parts of a word. If you finish a word (say, it's your turn when "BREAKFAS" gets to you; your only choice is to finish the word "breakfast"), you get a point. Get five points and you're out.
  • Interval Training: Spice up a walk by challenging kids to incorporate different moves, such as running, hopping, skipping, scuttling sideways, etc. What other styles of walking or moving can they come up with?
  • Name That Tune: For younger children, sing the lyrics and stick with songs you're positive kids know. As they get older, make the game more challenging by humming or whistling the tune and picking more obscure songs.
  • I Spy: This classic travel game works just as well when you are on foot. Make it more challenging by adding rules, such as "natural items only" or "pick something that has a name that shares your initial."    
  • Poetry to Go: Take turns creating a poem-on-the-go. Start off with a simple line like "I really love to take a walk" and have kids add their own rhymes ("except when I forget my sock" ... "and then I step upon a rock" ... and so on).
  • Spelling Bee: Have children challenge each other—and you—to spell words based on what they can see, such as "crow" or "cement" or "caterpillar".
  • When You Hear ...: Pick a trigger sound, such as a car horn or a bird's chirp. Line up in single file and start walking. When you hear the sound, the first person in the line has to run to the back. Continue until everyone's had a turn to lead.

Walking Games for Adults

  • Document Your Adventures: Take photos of birds, flowers, and scenery that catch your eye. If you walk with a group, make a scavenger hunt where each participant must take photos of specific things and the first to get them all wins a prize.
  • Explore: If you always take the same route for your daily walk, switch it up a bit and explore an unknown part of your community. You never know what you'll discover!
  • Team Up: If you don't like to walk alone, find a walking team or meet-up group in your area. They are a great way to make friends while getting some exercise.
  • Train for a 5K: If you've always wanted to run a 5K race but don't know where to start, try one of the many easy-to follow training apps that alternate walking and jogging gradually over several weeks as you eventually build enough stamina to run the entire distance.
  • Tune Out: Listen to a favorite music playlist, podcast, or audio book while you walk.

Fitness apps are a great way to build endurance and safely train for long-distance walks and runs.

Indoor Walking Games

If you typically walk indoors or on a treadmill, you can still make games and challenges part of your routine.

  • Friendly Competition: Create a walking challenge with a friend to stay motivated to get your steps in. The person who doesn't complete the challenge owes the other a latte or lunch.
  • Have a Soundtrack: Break up the monotony of indoor walking by listening to a favorite playlist, podcast, or radio station.
  • Interval Training: Add intervals of jogging or sprinting to increase the intensity of your daily walk.
  • Virtual Trail Runs: A quick online search turns up a host of different virtual trail run videos so you can explore the scenic outdoors—right from the comfort of your living room!
  • Walk While You Work: If you're pressed for time and work from home, try a treadmill desk to log hours while you stay fit.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can you make walking more fun?

To make walking more fun for kids, consider playing games along your route. Have them look for certain objects or flowers, or listen for the sounds of birds and other animals. Have a catch as you go, or stop every so often to do jumping jacks or push-ups.

For adults, it's easy to make walking more fun by listening to a favorite music playlist, walking in a new part of town, or joining a walking group where you can find support and comraderie.

How do you make walking on the treadmill more fun and easy?

Virtual runs are a fun way to explore the world and feel the sense of being outdoors. Virtual trail videos are filmed in a variety of settings and locations. You can search by the distance or time you prefer to walk or run. Visit the exotic, far-away trails on your bucket list without ever leaving home!

What games can make walking alone more fun?

Make your solo walk a bit more enjoyable by listening to music, an audio book, or a podcast. Plan new routes every so often to discover hidden gems in your own community. Photograph some of the interesting sites along your way and share them with friends or family. If you want more of a challenge, stop for push-ups, lunges, or jumping jacks along your way.

A Word From Verywell

Walking games are a good way to keep young children occupied and during a walk or hike. For adults, games and challenges keep walks interesting and may even make you more inclined to stick with a walking or hiking routine.

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