hiking · Trip Reports

Incorporating Painted Rocks Into Hikes

Does your town, city or general area have a “painted rocks” Facebook page? It is a fun activity for anyone to enjoy! It’s part crafty time, part scavenger time and it encourages kids to hike. As summer is nearly here, and for us, school is out in a little over a week, we have had plenty of time to search for rocks – and to also paint and hide our own. The first thing is look up on Facebook if you have a local or regional painted rocks group to join. If one doesn’t pop up right away, search Instagram or Twitter with hashtags, look for #(yourtown)rocks. Ours is the Maple Valley-Hobart-Ravensdale. Take a look at where people are hiding rocks, they leave photos with clues. If they haven’t been marked found, go see if any are out there! The worst is you get a free hike 😉  The best is you find them. (And some of the other rocks we have found)

Around our town, people hide them all over, even in town, but plenty of folks choose the trails, which is awesome.

The boys old nature preschool, which they love going and visiting when we can.

Walker showing off his “cherry pie” rock.

Alistaire with one of his finds.

Alistaire with another find.

And another! We found that one walking home from town, and crossing over the trail in town.

Well, sometimes they are not happy when I remind them to keep the game going, they need to share the love a bit, and rehide rocks.

Now then…we live on land that is glacial till underneath. We have a lifetime supply of rocks. Dig 2″ and you 10 rocks. So we save good ones when we are building new beds. Toss them in a bucket, rinse off. Dry in the sun. I prefer to use spray paint primer in white on the top of the rocks, then paint as desired. Once they are dry, I flip them over and apply a label. I used to use a sharpie marker to do this, but love my paper labels. A lot easier to read! (More about that below) After everything is dry, I spray with clear sealant and let bake in the sun till dry. Then after we have 5 or so rocks ready, we go for a hike and hide.

Some of the kids’s rocks. The middle one we found, it had no hashtags or markings and wasn’t coated, so we finished it.

Another batch.

It’s the Washington State Potato rock!

I used Avery’s free label making service online and printed these 18 per sheet (using the oval design), then cut and trimmed. To apply, I spread Elmer’s white glue on the rock, lay down the paper, then spread glue on top, making sure the entire paper is covered. Since they are covered with spray paint sealant later, I don’t worry about it getting wet.

Alistaire hiding his rock in a playground tunnel, just off the rail to trail we live on.


And Strawberries, since it is June!

4 thoughts on “Incorporating Painted Rocks Into Hikes

  1. We don’t have a facebook page, but my grandson and I have found several painted rocks in different places around our area and have painted and hid some. We found a really pretty one by a light pole at Wal Mart. He picked it up, and said he was going to hide it somewhere. Later on while cleaning out my car I found the rock under the seat where he sat. I have kept the rock for a time when I could place it somewhere where he could find it again. He and his family have just moved into a new house, so I am going to place the rock somewhere in his new bedroom! Can’t wait to see his reaction. This is a really fun activity for all ages.

  2. I found one on a hike. Took pictures and left it. Used to do tons of geocaching. I took a photo of the back to reseach it. Cannot find the Facebook page. So glad I left it.


  3. Really? Good job working with kids and encouraging creativity. But is this thoughtful? Am I just cranky if I think nature should be left natural and that teaching this kind of thing to kids will one day backfire on you when they realize it, too…?

  4. In a non Nation Park or national Forest setting, I don’t feel there is any issues with it. For example, our local parks and trails have no public issues with it. However, if that changes, we would abide by it. We also leave plenty in town – our local town group is quite active.

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