Best Hiking Movies & Documentaries

by

Article Categories: Hiking Tips
Article Tags: Hiking | Movie

Hiking movies are great when you can’t be out on the trail, or when you want to watch something inspiring… or just something with beautiful scenery and landscapes. While no two hiking stories are the same, one thing they all have in common is that they portray the connection between people and nature. As a result, you can always expect to see a beautiful natural environment featured heavily. In this article, we have broken down movies, brought trailers, and linked to exactly where you can watch full films so that you can easily decide and start watching your next great film!

Before starting, know that this article covers specifically hiking, and not necessarily climbing, or alpanism. Check out our article on the best outdoor and adventure movies for another amazing list.

 

Best Hiking Documentaries

These movies follow the true stories of hikers as they set out on various trails. Many of these films follow thru-hikers on famous trails like the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, or the John Muir Trail. These movies are about the trails as much as they are about the people who choose to hike them, as well as the reasons that people choose to hike. Each of these films is an inspiring look at people who set out on foot looking for adventure.

 

Appalachian Impressions

Appalachian Impressions is a classic documentary that really captures the feel and spirit of hiking on the Appalachian Trail. It combines raw trail footage with interviews of hikers met by the filmmaker as he thru-hikes all the way from Georgia to Maine. The movie is a wonderful look at trail culture and what it means to be a thru-hiker, and the footage lets you experience the thrills and challenges of daily life on the trail. A must-see if you ever plan on hiking the AT yourself!

 

As It Happens

Frustrated by the monotony of city life, and eager for a new adventure, two friends decide to hike the Pacific Crest Trail – a 2500-mile stretch of rugged terrain that runs along the border of the west coast from Mexico to Canada. Together, they’re determined to test the limits of their endurance, experience the majesty of nature, and capture every step of their journey along the way. As It Happens: Pacific Coast Trail is the oftentimes grueling, but always inspiring document of their efforts. The film is scored by original songs written by one of the filmmakers– this one is deeply personal and emotional.

 

Mile. Mile and a Half

This documentary follows a group of friends on the John Muir Trail during a time of record-breaking snowfall in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Their 229-mile journey from Yosemite National Park to Mount Whitney is exhilarating and inspiring, and the gorgeous landscape provides a perfect backdrop for the adventure of a lifetime.

 

Only The Essential

In the summer of 2013, Casey Gannon and Colin Arisman thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail with cameras in hand. Only The Essential is the story of their 5 month, nearly 3,000-mile journey on foot from Mexico to Canada across the wilderness of California, Oregon, and Washington. Filmed entirely by hikers, without a professional film crew, this film shows the reality of life on the trail and the exciting dynamics of a long thru-hike. However, this is no home movie– it’s beautifully edited and composed, making it a joy to watch.

 

Tell It On The Mountain: Tales from the Pacific Crest Trail

Tell it on the Mountain follows five hikers on one of the most impressive thru-hikes in the world, the Pacific Crest Trail. It takes them half a year, from April to October, as they travel between Mexico and Canada. This is one of the best hiking movies that shows the trials and tribulations of dropping everything to spend nearly half a year in the wilderness on the hiking trip of a lifetime. It also explores why people who have normal lives and jobs feel the call of the wild and drop everything to find themselves in nature.

 

Travel Light

This documentary explores the reasons that modern-day pilgrims choose to hike El Camino del Santiago. A small team of young American filmmakers backpack 500 miles across Spain’s Camino de Santiago, attempting to capture not only their own experience but also the intimate stories of the pilgrims who journey from all over the world to seek the truth on their way.

  • Release: 2016
  • Watch Time: 79 minutes
  • Where To Watch: Amazon Prime
  • Trailer Link: The trailer is available within the Amazon Prime link above.

 

Best Movies About Hiking

At their core, movies about hiking are typically movies about human connection. Each of these movies looks at the relationships we have with each other and with ourselves. These films all have something important to say about how we experience the world, and how we can make changes in our lives for the better. They also feature gorgeous landscapes that really show the beauty of nature.

 

127 Hours

There are a few cardinal rules about hiking. One of them is to never go alone, and 127 Hours is a demonstration of precisely why that’s a rule. While exploring a remote canyon by himself in Utah, hiker and climber Aron Ralston becomes trapped when a boulder falls on his arm, crushing it and pinning him to the canyon wall. Over the next five days, Ralston examines his life and considers his options, leading him to an agonizing choice. This powerful tale of survival and the strength of a person’s will is based on a true story, and it’s not for the squeamish.

 

A Walk In The Woods

Bill Bryson’s classic Appalachian Trail travelogue is one of the funniest books ever written about hiking. It’s also a loving portrait of the people met along the trail, and a witness to the beautiful but fragile trail ecosystem. The film version is a testament to all of that. It’s also a moving story of reconnecting with old friends and testing your own boundaries.

 

Edie

Edie is a movie about how it’s never too late to follow your dreams. After the death of her controlling husband, 83-year-old widow Edie sets out to fulfill one of her lifelong ambitions: climbing a mountain in the Scottish highlands. The movie focuses on the intergenerational friendship that forms between her and the young man she hires as a trainer and guide, and the breathtaking cinematography may leave you wanting to climb Mount Suilven yourself.

 

Into The Wild

Based on the true story of Christopher “Alexander Supertramp” McCandless, Into The Wild chronicles one man’s journey in Alaska. After graduating from Emory, Chris McCandless gives up all his possessions, donates his savings to charity, and hitchhikes to Alaska. While the aftermath of the story is fairly well known, the movie explores the time he spent surviving the Alaskan wilderness in all of its glory.

 

Southbounders

Southbounders is a dramatic independent film about finding yourself and finding new relationships on the Appalachian Trail. It’s the story of a young medical student, Oliva, who is struggling with her studies and daily life. She embarks on a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail as an attempt to fully embrace nature, boost her confidence, and find herself. This a great hiking movie because the characters and their endeavors are highly relatable, whether you’ve attempted a similar trek or not.

 

The Way

One of the most famous trails in the world is El Camino del Santiago. It’s a series of pilgrim’s ways in Europe, and it’s very popular for contemplation and helping people find their spiritual centers. Many people hike it to help process and deal with major life changes. In The Way, Martin Sheen’s character travels to Europe to retrieve the body of his estranged son, who died while hiking El Camino del Santiago. Driven by loss, he decides to hike the trail himself, but he soon finds that he won’t be alone on this trip. On his way, he meets other pilgrims from around the world, all broken and looking for greater meaning in their lives. This is a story about the power of human connections and what it means to choose the way you live.

 

The Way Back

Most people hike for fun, but not in this movie. The Way Back is loosely based on the story of Sławomir Rawicz, a Polish prisoner of war in WWII. In the movie, three men escape a Soviet prison camp and hike their way to India. Between them and freedom are a couple of mountain ranges and the howling winds and ferocious weather of Siberia. It’s very thrilling and dramatic and shows just how indomitable the human spirit can be.

 

Tracks

Tracks is based on the true story of Robyn Davidson’s incredible hike from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean. It’s the story of how– and why–  one woman decided to walk with only one dog, and four camels for company for about two thousand miles through the Australian desert. The odds might seem impossible, but she did it. A gripping exploration of identity and drive. The story also shows what photojournalism was like in the days before the internet; the only person Robyn had regular contact with was a National Geographic photographer who followed her journey.

 

Wild

Wild is based on the true story of Cheryl Strayed’s journey of self-discovery and redemption on the Pacific Crest Trail. As her life spirals out of control after the death of her mother, self-destructive divorcee Cheryl takes to the woods in a bid to conquer her demons. As she reflects on her life’s hardships and tribulations, the kindness of strangers helps her summon the courage she’ll need to stay the course. This one’s a tear-jerker with a powerfully inspiring narrative.

 

Wildlike

Wildlike is a story about finding personal strength and inner peace by hiking. When a teenage girl’s life is upended and her new home with her abusive uncle is unbearable, she escapes by running away to the Alaskan wilderness. As the story unfolds, her path intersects with another hiker, and over time they are brought together by the open wilderness and discoveries about the kind of people they are. Wildlike provides a hopeful look at the joy that anyone can have when discovering his or herself, especially in the great outdoors.

 

Movies By Streaming Service

 

Amazon Prime

 

Hulu

 

Netflix

 

Youtube

 

Other

Southbounders (Culture Unplugged)

Max DesMarais
Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the founder of Hiking & Fishing. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. You can read more about him here: hikingandfishing/about