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How to Play

  1. Each player selects a game piece. In the Backpacking edition, players choose game pieces from their surroundings (stone, penny, acorn, coin, etc), and chooses a trail name.  Note: Game pieces are included in The Appalachian Trail Game - Deluxe Version.
  2. All players begin their hike together.  For a northbound hike, place all game pieces on the Springer Mountain, GA circle at the bottom of the Map.  Place the THRU HIKE card at the Katahdin circle at the top of the map. For a southbound hike, reverse these.
  3. Spread out the GEAR cards on a flat surface. Each player tkes a turn choosing one item for their pack. Players should have the same number of items, Remaining cards are shuffled in with the CHANCE Cards. Each player spreads out their GEAR cards out in front of them, visible to others.  These cards make up a player’s backpack.  Remaining GEAR cards are shuffled in with the CHANCE cards.
  4. Shuffle the Trail Journal CHANCE cards (blue) in with the remaining GEAR cards.  Place the stack on the CHANCE card space on the Map.
  5. Shuffle the Trail Journal CHALLENGE Cards (green) and deal 5 to each player, face down.  Each player holds the cards in their hands, so they are not visible to other players.  Place the remaining cards on the CHALLENGE space on the Map.


Advance 1 space at the beginning of every turn, (unless otherwise instructed to NOT ADVANCE or LOSE A TURN.) The youngest player goes first and play continues clockwise. Land on a green space...choose another player to read you a Challenge card. Answer correctly and add the card and points to your Trail Journal stack.. Answer incorrectly and the asking player gets the points and adds the card to their personal trail journal! (end of turn) Land on a blue space...draw a CHANCE card and follow its instructions. (end of turn) Continue play until a Hiker completes the A.T. and earns the THRU HIKE card.  All players then tally the points in their Trail Journal stack.  The player with the most points wins!  


Players begin every turn by advancing their game piece one space (unless instructed otherwise in a CHANCE card.) When it is your turn, you are referred to as the “Hiker”. The youngest player goes first. Play continues clockwise as each Hiker advances to the next trail space (green or blue). If the Hiker lands on a green trail space… The Hiker receives a CHALLENGE question from a fellow player of his/her choice. The asking player then selects a Trivia or I.D. card from his/her hand to play:
  • When a Trivia card is selected, the question is read aloud, a reasonable amount of time (30 sec.) is given for a final answer from the Hiker, and then the correct answer is read aloud.
  • When an I.D. card is played, the cardholder shows the picture to the Hiker receiving the challenge, while covering both names with a finger.
**If the Hiker answers the CHALLENGE card correctly, the card is placed in the Hiker’s personal Trail Journal stack. If the Hiker answers the question incorrectly, then the asking player places the card in their personal Trail Journal stack and collects the card’s point value.   If the Hiker lands on a blue trail space … The Hiker draws one card from the CHANCE card stack, and follows its instructions.  CHANCE cards are returned to the bottom of the stack unless the card instructs otherwise.  If there is a point value in the upper left hand corner, the player places this card in their personal Trail Journal stack at the end of their turn.  Points are tallied at the end of the game.  CHANCE cards may require players to: ADVANCE -  If a card requires a Hiker to advance, then move the token forward the appropriate number of spaces. Do not draw another CHANCE card or request another CHALLENGE question on this turn. DO NOT ADVANCE NEXT TURN -  Do not move forward one space (as usual) at the beginning of the following turn.  Place the card in front of you to remind you of this on your next turn :)  On the next turn:  Player will stay on the same space and either draw a CHANCE card or receive a CHALLENGE question depending on the color of the trail space.  A Trail Magic or appropriate GEAR card may be played to cancel this effect. GO BACK TO THE NEAREST A.T. COMMUNITY -  Immediately move back to a space with an A.T. Community symbol.  Your turn is over.  A Trail Magic or appropriate GEAR card may be played to cancel this effect. ADVANCE TO THE NEAREST A.T. COMMUNITY -  Immediately move forward to a space with an A.T. Community symbol.   Your turn is over. LOSE A TURN! - Do not advance or draw a card next turn.  A Trail Magic or appropriate GEAR card may be played to cancel this effect. The game ends when a Hiker completes the entire A.T. and adds the THRU HIKE card to his/her Trail Journal.   All players add up the points from cards in their Trail Journal stack and the player with the most points wins!   types-of-cards-header  
CHALLENGE CARDS: Do you know the common name of plant and animals that live along the Appalachian Trail?  Do you know the proper gear to carry along your hike or the history of the Trail?  Answer a question correctly, and add points and experiences to your Trail Journal.  Answer a question incorrectly and the player who challenges you gets the points! TRAIL KARMA CARDS: What goes around comes around! Get out of a perilous situation that occurs with a Trail KARMA Card! Hikers can choose to play these cards to cancel out the effects of any CHANCE card.  After the card is played once, it is returned to the bottom of the CHALLENGE card stack. CHANCE CARDS:  Your hike along the Appalachian Trail will bring about all kinds of interesting situations! CHANCE cards may present obstacles like Poison Ivy or Hypothermia that slow your pace or require a visit to the nearest A.T. Community.  Having the right GEAR card or a Trail Magic card can save the day and help to avoid delays or emergency situations!  There may also be opportunities to take a day off the trail for rest, fun, and exploration, or to quicken your pace by going ultralight or getting in shape. GEAR CARDS: Are you prepared for your A.T. journey with the right gear?  The 20 GEAR cards comprise a complete pack list for overnight backpacking.  Players begin the game with 4 gear items in their backpack.  GEAR cards prepare you to deal with potentially dangerous situations that could otherwise result in injuries and other trail setbacks.  GEAR cards can cancel the effects of CHANCE emergencies that arise.  GEAR cards remain in your backpack, and are used throughout the game unless they are damaged or lost.  When additional GEAR cards are drawn from the CHANCE stack, put them directly into play by adding them to your backpack.     Ideas for Alternate Play For larger groups, play in teams! Thru Hike! - Continue play until all players complete the trail.  You may decide to remove the Thru Hike card (and additional points) from the game, or award this card to the first hiker to finish. For younger players:  Act it out!  Players act out the animal cards when they are played (like charades).   You may simplify some names--like frog instead of green frog.  Offer each player one hint on questions they are unsure of. Use the scientific names!  Ask players to give the scientific name for the plant and animal identification cards to increase complexity for more advanced players. For Quicker Games, players advance two spaces at the beginning of each turn instead of one. Create new house rules and send us your ideas!