Thinking about hiking the Appalachian Trail but not quite sure you are ready? Perhaps this board game can help. A bit like the thru-hiker version of Chutes And Ladders, the game can teach you much of what you need to know about backpacking through a series of questions, challenges, and activities as you move along the trail.
In the Appalachian Trail Game, you make your way up the trail by successfully answering questions, identifying trail wildlife, practicing Leave No Trace principles, and choosing the right gear to help navigate through perilous situations that arise, like poison ivy, an unseasonal snowstorm, or getting lost. Along the way, you can choose to go ultralight to jump ahead, help a hiking club, experience Trail Karma, or head to the nearest A.T. Community for a hot shower and soft bed.
The Appalachian Trail Game was created by Mark Hanf. He was out on one of the sections of the AT between Max Patch and Hot Springs, NC when he came to the Walnut Mountain shelter and saw that it had been completely trashed. After seeing that, he wanted a fun and engaging way to teach people about responsible trail ethics and thus the board game idea was born.
He teamed up with some educators, artists, conservationists ,and backpackers to create the The Appalachian Trail Game and back in August of 2014, launched the game through a successful Kickstarter campaign. Since that time, the company has sold over 15,000 copies and donated over 300 games to non-profit organizations, schools, and volunteer hiking clubs.
The company is currently running another Kickstarter campaign for a Mega Expansion Set that includes two distinct decks for a fun new take on the game — The Thru-Hiker Deck and the A.T. Communities Deck. These two decks combine for 250 new cards and mirror the dual backpacking experience of spending time in the backcountry and in A.T. Communities along the way.
The expansion set costs $25 but if you are new to the game, you can get the Backpacker edition and the Mega Expansion Set for $50. Sounds like a great investment for anyone interested in hiking the AT or anyone who wants to get their kids hooked on the outdoors.