Top 10 Backpacking Games from The Appalachian Trail - Greenbelly Meals

Top 10 Backpacking Games for The Appalachian Trail


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1. Stinky Pinky.
My favorite trail game. How it works...
I pick a pair of unrelated words that rhyme and you try to guess what they are based on a pair of synonymous or related ‘hint’ words I provide you with.

Example 1: (in my Head) I pick “fat rat”. I might pick “chubby” as the synonym for “fat” and might pick “varmin” as the synonym for “rat”. Therefore, my hint words for you: “chubby varmin”. Okay, that was super easy.

Example 2: If I pick “mountain fountain”, your hint words could be “hill water”. Another hint option could be “summit geyser”.

Let’s try one now… your hint words: “trouser boogieAnswer here and get your name listed in the book. 

After days of this, we started going to three word rhymes and could hike for hours guessing what the answer could be. Sometimes our guesses were better than the original pick was. I remember waking up the middle of the night in shelters thinking about what my next Stinky Pinky would be.


2. Quizzes.
There are endless quizzes to think of. We spent an entire day trying to think of all the state capitals. I had learned them in like 3rd grade and simply forgotten or mixed some up.

(Hint: Montpelier is Vermont’s capital. Pittsburgh nor Philadelphia are Pennsylvania’s capital.)


3. Would You Rather.
I think of two unrelated situations and you, hypothetically, decide which you would prefer to happen.

Example: Would you rather be stranded on an arctic island with Michael Jackson or eat tuna for the rest of your life?


4. Memory Game.
“I went on a hike and brought an (A) Apple.”

Next person. “I went on a hike and brought an apple and a (B) Bazooka.”

Next person. “I went on a hike and brought an apple, a bazooka and a (C) Carnivorous toy poodle.”

Next person. “I went on a hike and brought an apple, a bazooka, a carnivorous toy poodle and a (D) Didgeridoo.”

You get the idea.


5. 20 Questions.
I think of something for you to guess and provide you with the category. Celebrities, mammals, famous trail sites, foods, whatever.

You have 20 yes-or-no questions to figure it out. If I pick “Michael Jackson”, your first question might be “is it a male?” Sometime before your 20th question you should be asking “did he wear a white glove and sing Thriller?”.


6. Name that Tune.
I think of a song and say the lyrics in monotone. If you can’t guess it, I may sing it.


7. Storytelling.
Tell your most embarrassing moments, your most scared moments, etc.

This was a great way to get to know other hikers as well as open up to new people.


8. What are you Going to Eat in Town?
Describe every little detail of that savory burger. Are you going to have one or three pickles? Premix the ketchup and mustard? Or maybe squeeze them both into separate containers and alternate dipping each bite?

Warning: this game can be dangerous.


9. Hide Balto.
Find certain trail objects or trinkets and hide them in each others packs.

We found a VHS copy of the animated movie, Balto, in a shelter one day (no idea). We got as creative as possible trying to hide it in each others packs for weeks. The rule was - if you get caught trying to hide it in someone’s pack, you carry it for at least 24 hours. The methods of distraction became rather ornate to say the least.

Last I heard, someone had snuck Balto into a NOBO’s pack and it, ultimately, made it’s way to Katahdin. There was also a Beatles biography that I snuck into my friends pack and was not discovered until months after he got off trail. 2 pts.


10. Charades.
I act out a person, place, phrase, scene, anything. I cannot use props or speak; only my body and hand gestures. You try to guess what I am acting out.



chris cage greenbelly

By Chris Cage
Chris launched Greenbelly Meals in 2014 after thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail for 6 months. Since then, Greenbelly has been written up by everyone from Backpacker Magazine and Bicycling Magazine to Fast Company and Science Alert. He recently wrote How to Hike the Appalachian Trail and currently works from his laptop all over the globe.



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