Backpacking & Hiking



Backpacking & Hiking is a national 4-H project. It features curriculum that will guide you through the project. For a copy contact your County 4-H Office or order online at National 4-H Service Supply. For additional curriculum possibilities, explore the National Directory of 4-H Materials and do a key word search for Backpacking & Hiking.

Backpacking & Hiking 1
What you can do in this project: plan a day hike, select items and plan the food; learn to organize and pack a backpack; select appropriate clothing; prepare a first-aid kit; learn to use a compass; prepare for dangerous weather.
Grades: 3-5
Resource: 08043, Hiking Trails

Backpacking & Hiking 2
What you can do in this project: plan a camping trip; select equipment, including shelter; plan a camping trip menu and prepare supplies; practice “Leave No Trace” principles while hiking; study various organism habitats.
Grades: 6-8
Resource: 08044, Camping Adventures

Backpacking & Hiking 3
What you can do in this project: select group backpacking gear including a tent; design a non-tent backpacking shelter; develop a personal conditioning program; learn to orient a map and use triangulation.
Grades: 9-12
Resource: 08045, Backpacking Expeditions

Backpacking & Hiking Leader
Resources: 08046, Outdoor Adventures Helper’s Guide
4H500, I’m a 4-H Project Leader. Now What Do I Do?

Program Safety Regulations
All 4-H members and leaders (adult or youth) participating in the adventures project or activities, such as rock climbing/repelling and ropes adventure courses, must use protective or safety equipment, including approved safety helmets. Refer to the Program Safety section for specific requirements for this project.


Want to learn more about Backpacking? Try the links below.

Adventure Trips
Let’s go on an adventure! The best way to learn about the environment is to experience it! Staff at the Upham Woods 4-H Environmental Education Center offer backpacking activities and camps.

Backpacking Project Training
Many counties hold local training for members and leaders in their favorite project areas, including backpacking. Watch your county 4-H Family newsletter or contact your county Extension office for details.

Wisconsin 4-H and Youth Conference
If you’re in grades 8-10, check out the next Wisconsin 4-H and Youth Conference, scheduled each June at the UW-Madison campus. The conference offers educational seminars in most areas of 4-H. Contact your county Extension office for details.

Activity Plans

Learning by doing . . . that’s been the 4-H way for 100 years! Dive into these fun Backpacking and Hiking activities. Select the file for a complete lesson plan.

  • Hiking Series – Gearing Up! (4 pages, 108 KB) Learn how to identify and select the proper gear or equipment for a healthy, safe and successful hiking or backpacking trip.
  • Hiking Series – Leave No Trace (9 pages, 252 KB) Learn the seven principles of Leave No Trace (LNT), which promotes and inspires responsible hiking, backpacking and other outdoor recreation activities.
  • Hiking Series – Planning Your Trek (7 pages, 108 KB) Learn how to plan, organize and lead a day hike or backpacking trip.
  • Hiking Series – Survival Skills (13 pages, 205 KB) Learn the seven basic surival needs of our bodies; discover the materials that will help us meet these needs to survive emergency situations, especially when hiking and backpacking.
  • Orienteering (4 pages, 136 KB) Use a compass to navigate a course.

County Fair

The county fair . . . what a great time it is! Every summer, families flock to county fairs to see the latest 4-H project exhibits. Exhibiting is a fun and educational way for youth to showcase their project work to judges and to the public. Judging materials are supported by Bill Shaw in memory of his wife, Shirley.

Related Links

There’s so much more to learn in the 4-H Backpacking Project. Just follow these links!

American Hiking Society
As the “national voice” for America’s hikers, American Hiking Society promotes and protects foot trails and the hiking experience.

GORP: Great Outdoor Recreation Page
Resource for outdoor recreation, including hiking, biking, rafting, camping and fishing, with information on attractions, outdoor gear, adventure travel, and national parks and wilderness areas.

Go Wild With Wisconsin Wildcards
An activity kit from the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources that includes more than 250 “trading cards,” featuring some of Wisconsin’s plants, wildlife and special places. Great resource for helping Wisconsinites (of all ages) get to know their state and its natural resource issues.

Ice Age Park & Trail Foundation
Aim is to protect, promote, build and maintain the Ice Age Trail, a 1,000-mile scenic footpath established in Wisconsin to tell the story of the Ice Age and continental glaciation. This site features trail information, news and resources for hikers.

Source of directions and maps for trips.

National 4-H Online Outdoor Adventures Project
Visit this site for additional National 4-H Outdoor Adventures Project activities, information and links.

National Outdoor Leadership School
Source for outdoor skills and leadership courses.

National Park Service
Find out more about our national parks. Find a park to visit.

Superior Hiking Trail Association
The Superior Hiking Trail is a 205-mile footpath that follows the rocky ridgeline above Lake Superior in northeastern Minnesota. This site offers trail information, photos and FAQ’s.

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture: Forest Service
National Forests and Grasslands offer a diversity of outdoor opportunities.

U.S. Orienteering Federation
Volunteer organization supporting orienteering in the U.S. Orienteering is the skill of navigating through an unknown area with the use of a map and compass.

Wisconsin 4-H STEM
Resources and links to science, engineering, and technology activities.

Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources
The Wisconsin State Park System provides places for outdoor recreation and for learning about nature and conservation. About 14 million people a year visit our state parks, forests, trails, and recreation areas.

Wisconsin Dept. of Tourism
Wisconsin outdoor adventures to enjoy in any season.

Project Support

For more information on the 4-H Backpacking Project, contact the following:

UW-Extension County 4-H Offices
This is your link to a list of Wisconsin County Extension Offices. Select the county of your choice.