The Appalachian Trail: A Unit Study


Have you been searching for a unit study that is intriguing, fun & educational? Then join us as we hit the Appalachian Trail. You’ll study math, geography, history, and much more all combined in this one unit study!


Have you been searching for a unit study that is intriguing, fun, educational, full of activities that incorporate learning in many subject areas, and one that may just inspire your family to set out on the adventure of a lifetime? Then join us as we hit the Trail—the Appalachian Trail with The Appalachian Trail: A Unit Study.

With the goal of inspiring true educational experiences, i.e., those that are simultaneously enlightening, delightful, purposeful, and lead to further learning, Donna Rees offers more than 150 activities related to a study of the Appalachian Trail, for children of all ages.

Here are a few samples from each of the subject areas:


  • Select a book from the book lists included in this unit study, read it as a family or independently, and write a two-page book report about it.
  • Investigate the topic of dialects, using Appalachian terminology as a starting point. Learn about terms such as jag (an armful of corn), gaum (a mess), galluses (suspenders) and counterpane (bedspread) and how similar terms came about.


  • Graph the average number of visitors who have hiked the Trail each year since it opened.
  • Learn how to calculate distance by using map keys. Calculate total mileage to the five places in the United States you would most like to visit, from your home.


  • Learn about birds that can be observed along the Trail. The Conservancy’s website even offers recordings of eight birdcalls that can be heard by hikers (www., The Trail/About the Trail/Plants and Animals/Bird Calls).
  • During the colder seasons of the year, hikers must stay warm yet wear clothing that is lightweight. Research the sources of down, determine which down is the best insulating material known, and find out how it is collected and used in clothing.

Physical Education

  • Research five basic exercises that can strengthen leg muscles and improve cardiovascular health. Establish daily exercise goals, and keep a record of each family member’s participation for a month.
  • Create an obstacle course in your backyard, and set aside a time each day to enjoy it. Assign one state name from the A.T. to each element of the obstacle course, chronologically, from south to north. Record the amount of time each child requires to successfully navigate the course. After two weeks of daily practice, calculate each child’s improvement—and celebrate!


  • Create a topographical map of the Trail using papier mâché.
  • On poster board, draw the outlines of each of the states along the Trail. Cut out each state shape to create a puzzle. Younger children can decorate the puzzle pieces with markers or crayons, or they could glue dry macaroni, seeds, or pasta to each piece as a fun art activity.


  • Write a 500-word biography about the man who came up with the idea of creating an Appalachian Trail, Benton MacKaye.
  • Read about Jean Ritchies, from Viper, Kentucky, who performs traditional music from Appalachia.


  • Learn about the different types of compasses and how to use them.
  • Locate the Appalachian Trail on a globe, on a world map, and on a map of the U.S.

Home Economics

  • Plan, purchase the ingredients for, and prepare three days’ worth of trail meals, either for an actual hike or for eating at home.
  • Interview a forest ranger at a state or national park to learn about basic emergency treatments commonly needed by hikers of all ages. Document knowledge gained in a report.


Bonus features include an extensive list of “Tips for Hikers”; a suggested reading list of books about Appalachia, The Appalachian Trail, and camping/backpacking; ideas for further study of the Appalachian Trail; “Unique Names Along the Appalachian Trail” (such as “Anthony’s Nose”!); and a list of principal Indian tribes who originally lived in the territories crossed by the Trail. The author provides numerous links to helpful resources and free educational tools to be used in conjunction with your unit study.

Let the adventure begin! 

Order your digital copy of The Appalachian Trail: A Unit Study and download today!


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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).