Leave No Trace at Home Activity

Want to be ready for your next hike? Play this game to find out how much you know about being safe and friendly on the trail!


How to Play

Number of Players: 2 or more.

Ages: 5 and up. Adults, you may need to help young children read the cards and figure out how to play the game.

If you want, print the game cards or write them out on small pieces of paper. Toss a coin to decide who will be the first hiker and who will be the first guide(s).

The hiker will pick 10 random cards and build the trail (in secret). Do not look at the backs of the cards yet. Meanwhile, the guide(s) should get ready: decide what to wear and what to bring on the hike.

Once the trail is built, the guide(s) will lead the hiker through each obstacle. The hiker will read the backs of the cards to award points to the guide and keep score.

At the end of the trail, players can either swap roles or clean up the trail. Remember to leave no trace! No one who sees the trail after the game ends should be able to tell that anything happened there.


Game Cards

Use these game cards digitally or make paper cards. If you print them, fold the paper in half on the long line and tape the loose edges together, then cut along the short lines. You should end up with 27 cards. Each will have a front and a back. You may want to mark or color your paper cards so you can remember which ones go on the trail and which ones go near the trail.

Ideas for Things to Put On the Trail

Stairs Stairs, or a Tall Hill (3 points)
Ask: If you meet someone who is coming the other way, what do you do?
If you are going down, stop and step out of the way. Wait for the person coming up to pass you.
If you are going up, keep going. Carefully pass the person coming down.
rolled into a long tube
Long "Tree" Trunk (2 points)
Go over the tree that fell on the trail.
If you go around it, you will make a new trail and someone may get lost when they try to follow it.
Let a ranger know that the tree is on the trail. Take a picture to show them if you can!
Flashlight Strong Sunlight (2 points)
Turn the flashlight on and point it at your guide.
Cover up your skin so you do not get a sunburn. Put sunscreen on any body part you cannot cover.
Try not to hike in the middle of the day when the sun is strongest.
Flashlight Lightning Storm! (4 points)
Turn the flashlight on and off a lot. Ask: What will you do if there is lightning?
If you are in a group, spread out, but stay close enough to hear each other.
Go where you can stand near—but not under—short trees. Bend down close to the ground.
Doll Person Who Got Hurt
Ask them if you can help. (2 points)
Find your first aid kit. Give them a bandage so that they can stop bleeding. (2 points)
If they need more help, write down the time and the person’s name, age, and the color of their shirt. Go tell a ranger what happened. (2 points)
at the end of the trail
Brush for Dirty Shoes (2 points)
Brush off your shoes.
Mud or plants can stick to your shoes. The next time you go for a walk you could spread germs or plants where they do not belong.
T-shirt, towel, or blanket
Gray Rocks (1 point)
Walk on the rocks.
There is no need to go around them because you cannot hurt them.
T-shirt, towel, or blanket
White Snow (1 point)
Walk on the snow.
There is no need to go around it because you cannot hurt it. Snow keeps the ground below it safe until it melts.
T-shirt, towel, or blanket
Green Grass (1 point)
Walk around the green grass.
A big area of grass is called a “meadow.” Meadows are very wet and easy to hurt!
If there is a trail through the meadow, it is okay to stay on the trail.
T-shirt, towel, or blanket
Dry Yellow Grass (1 point)
Walk on the dry grass.
Once grass is dry you cannot hurt it.
If there is a trail through the grass, it is best to stay on the trail.
T-shirt, towel, or blanket
Black Bridge (1 point)
Walk on the bridge.
A bridge is the best way to cross a river.
You may find a very long bridge—called a “boardwalk”—over a big wet area. It is part of the trail and you should stay on it.
T-shirt, towel, or blanket
Brown Mud Puddle (1 point)
Walk through the puddle, not around it.
If you walk around the puddle, it gets bigger and bigger. When it dries, there will be a huge hole. When it rains, water will fill the hole quickly instead of draining away.
T-shirt, towel, or blanket
Blue Water (3 points)
Only go near the water if you know how to swim.
If the water is moving faster than you can walk, if it is very cold, or if it is deeper than your belly button, do not go close. Stay away so that if you fall, you do not land in the water.
use before hiking
Backpack Quiz
Ask: What do you have in your backpack?
Water and a snack. (2 points)
A jacket to keep you warm. (1 point)
A map. (1 point)
Find out more at nps.gov/articles/10essentials.htm
use before hiking
Trail Quiz
Ask: What do you need to know about this trail before you start walking?
Where it goes. (1 point)
How long and how hard it is. (2 points)
What it is like right now. (1 point)
What the rules are. (1 point)

Ideas for Things to Put Near the Trail

Scary Stuffed Animal Scary Animal (2 points)
Do not run! The animal may chase you.
Look big by putting your arms up or getting everyone in the group together.
Back away slowly while you talk to the animal. Wait for it to leave before going ahead.
Cute Stuffed Animals Cute Animals (2 points)
Stay far away from wild animals.
Close one eye, hold up your thumb, and back away until the animal is hidden behind your thum. Then you are probably far enough away.
Stack of Rocks Stack of Rocks (3 points)
Do not move stacks of rocks you find near a trail and do not build your own. These stacks are called “cairns” and can help you find the trail when it is hard to see.
If you change them, you could mess up an animal’s home or make someone lose the trail!
Group of Dolls Group of People (3 points)
Do not squeeze in!
When there are many people in one place, wait until some of them leave before you walk over.
If they are at a good place to take a picture, try to find a different place that has fewer people.
Piece of Trash Piece of Trash (2 points)
Take trash with you and put it in a trash can later.
Try to leave the trail cleaner than you found it. Some trash will make you sick if you pick it up. Most trash is just dirty, though. If you can do it safely, pick it up and pack it out.
Toilet Toilet (2 points)
If you see a toilet, stop to use it. (Or at least try!)
If you do have to “go” during your hike, go far away from the trail and any water so you do not spread germs.
Remember that toilet paper is trash! Put it in a plastic bag and pack it out.
Old Toys Old Toys (2 points)
Leave very old things where you find them. Act like these things are in a museum!
We can learn a lot about people who lived here long ago from things they left behind, but only if no one has moved or taken them.
with a small stuffed
animal in it
Baby Animal in a Nest (2 points)
If you find a baby animal or nest, look from far away, then move away quickly.
Do not show other animals that want to eat it where it is.
If you find a baby bird out of the nest, it may be learning to fly. Give it space and don’t scare it!
Piece of Fruit Piece of Wild Fruit (4 points)
Leave wild berries, mushrooms, and other plants for wild animals.
If you plan to eat wild foods, be sure you know what they are, that they are safe, and that the rules let you. Only pick what you can eat right now. Do not pick food to take home with you.
Drawing of Flowers Pretty Flowers (2 points)
Leave flowers for other people and animals to enjoy. Take photos of flowers and leaves so you can look them up later in a guide book.
They are food for bees, birds, bats, and other animals. They also hold seeds to make new flowers next year.
Open Shoebox
with a snack inside
Open Food Storage Box (2 points)
Close the box so bears cannot get the food!
Food and other things that smell go in special boxes in the parks so that bears do not eat them. Look on nps.gov/seki to see what these boxes are like. If a bear learns to eat food from people, the bear or a person could get hurt.
Dark Room
with a partly open door
Ask: Before you go in, do you have what you need?
Clean clothes and shoes to make sure you do not spread germs to animals in the cave. (2 points)
Three sources of light, just in case. (2 points)
A friend. (1 point)

Last updated: April 2, 2021

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