Stuck inside? Need a good hiking / outdoor adventure movie to watch? Here is my list of the top 35 Hiking movies you should check out with bonus movies at the end!
Top 35 Hiking Movies
The top 35 hiking movies (some are mountaineering, but to me, they are the same concept) to make my list, in no particular order, are:
127 Hours – Based on the book and true story of Aron Ralston (a rock climber) who was trapped for five days in a desolate canyon in Utah before taking extreme measures to free his trapped arm in order to save his life.
Figure it Out on the Hayduke Trail – One of my favorite hiking movies by far and the entire reason I not only learned about the Hayduke Trail but now also want to hike it myself! Follow this documentary along the 800-mile trail that crosses Utah and Arizona. Considered one of the most challenging hikes in America as most of the time there is no actual trail to follow.
Mile Mile and a Half – A documentary about a group of different artists that leave out to document California’s historic John Muir Trail with a goal to complete the journey in 25 days. One of the better hiking movies out there that are shot in documentary style.
Almost Sunrise – A documentary about two men who decide to take a 2700 mile trek across America in an attempt to put their demons from combat in Iraq, behind them.
Into the Wild – Based on a true story and best-selling book, Into the Wild, follows the true story of a freshly graduated college student with a promising future who felt he needed to walk away from his privileged life and find adventure. He eventually finds himself hiking into very remote areas of Alaska and trying to survive. This is definitely in my top 5 favorite hiking movies.
Wild – Based on a true story and best-selling novel, it follows Cheryl Strayed’s journey on the Pacific Crest Trail after the death of her mother, her family scattered, and her own marriage destroyed. With nothing more to lose and no experience or training, she makes an impulsive decision to find herself on 1000 miles of the PCT.
180 South – Documentary about a man that is retracing the footsteps of two other men’s (his heroes) 1968 journey to Patagonia.
The Way – A father heads overseas to recover the body of his estranged son who was killed in the Pyrenees in a storm while walking the Camino de Santiago. He then decides to finish the historical pilgrimage to honor his son.
Wildlike – A teenager finds herself in Alaska after being sent to stay with her uncle after the death of her father and the hospitalization of her mother. It’s not long before her uncle starts molesting her and she runs away after not being able to get ahold of her mother. She ends up in the Alaskan Wilderness and attaches herself to an older widowed backpacker, who eventually helps her return home to Seattle after a healing journey across Alaska.
Tracks – Based on the true story of Robyn Davidson who decides she is done with society and people and leaves for a 9-month solo trip across the Australian desert from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean with just her dog and wild camels she caught and trained. The journey in 1977 was sponsored and documented by National Geographic.
Dirty South Bounders – This is actually a multi-part series that captures the adventures of the essence of the Appalachian Trail as a group of people hike Southbound (SOBO).
The Long Start to the Journey: A Story of the Appalachian Trail – Follow filmmaker Chris Gallaway on his attempt to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail where he encounters severe weather, injury, loneliness, and fascinating characters. He walks over 2,000 miles in seven months, experiencing major life changes from becoming engaged to a close family tragedy.
A Way to Forgiveness – A Catholic woman decides to hike 500 miles across Northern Spain along the Camino de Santiago after her divorce and finds the art of forgiveness after discussions with fellow pilgrams.
2,000 Miles to Maine – Documentary inspired by Bill Bryson’s A Walk In The Woods director Douglas Morse and producer Heide Estes traveled to the southern terminus of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia. They wanted to capture the stories of those who had planned for months, left families, left jobs, and set aside half a year for the trek to Maine. It used to be available on Amazon Prime but looks like you can buy it on DVD.
TREK – A Journey on the Appalachian Trail – A documentary about the life of a thru-hiker on the Appalachian Trail.
“Flip Flop Flippin’ – One man’s search for character(s) on the A.T.” – A documentary about Scott “Squatch” Herriott attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail while searching for the interesting, inspiring, sometimes whacked-out and always dirt-laden folk who make up the long-distance hiking community.
Barbarian Utopia: Encounters on the Appalachian Trail – A recent college student decides to hike all 2,185 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Along the way, 100’s of other hikers share their stories.
The Ritual – Based on the book with the same name by Adam Nevill, this Netflix Original movie follows four old University friends who set off into the Scandinavian wilderness of the Arctic Circle. When the only man still single and living a precarious existence, finds he has little left in common with his well-heeled friends, tensions rise. With limited experience between them, a shortcut meant to ease their hike turns into a nightmare scenario that could cost them their lives. This is definitely one of the more creepy hiking movies I’ve watched with an ending that will make you think twice of ever stepping foot into the woods again. (Netflix)
Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago – A documentary of six individuals who are taking the pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago with just the essentials.
The Forest – An American sister sets out to find her twin sister that was last seen in Japan’s infamous Aokigahara aka Suicide Forest (given the name due to it becoming one of the world’s most-used suicide sites; the forest is so lush that corpses can go undiscovered for years and it is easy to get lost).
She eventually finds a guide that will help her search as she is certain her sister (an adventurer that loved hiking and camping) did not go into the forest to commit suicide but rather camp. FYI, be prepared for a twist at the end. This is another movie that will make you never want to go into a forest alone. While not based on a true story, it is based on Japanese mythology and Suicide Forest is a real place. Also, a good reminder on why you should always hike with the 10 essentials.
Six-Million Steps: A Journey Inward – Documentary that follows lives of hikers along the Pacific Crest Trail.
Snow to Sand – A documentary that follows Shawn Forry and Justin Lichter on their historic winter expedition of the Pacific Crest Trail.
The Dark Divide – Based on the memoir Where Bigfoot Walks: Crossing the Dark Divide Robert Pyle (played by David Cross), a butterfly expert and historical writer, sets out on a 30-day trek through the Gifford Pinchot National Forest after the death of his wife to document butterflies and moths in hopes of finding new species. Pyle, who is an inexperienced hiker, encounters all kinds of challenges, from losing gear to getting lost in a cave, plus so much more.
Edie – After the death of her controlling husband, Edie (an 80 something-year-old woman) decides to take a long-awaited adventure to climb the world-famous Mt. Suilven after finding old backpacking and camping gear from her youth. This was an adventure she was supposed to do when she was much younger with her Dad, but due to her husband was not able to.
Devil’s Pass – Inspired by the true-life “Dyatlov Pass Incident”. U.S. College students set out to retrace the steps of nine hikers who mysteriously died in the northern Ural Mountains of Russia between February 1-2, 1959, under suspicious circumstances in hopes of determining what happened to those nine hikers. It is what has now become known as the Dyatlov Pass incident. The movie is shot documentary style. While the movie itself is fiction, the Dyatlov Pass incident was real, and still to this day no one knows what happened.
Backcountry – A boyfriend takes his girlfriend (in the hopes of proposing) on a camping trip to his favorite spot as a child, only to get lost and have a bear hunt them down. This is one of those hiking movies (or camping movies) that make you feel iffy about heading back into the woods.
A New High – A great documentary about a group of recovering drug addicts that prepare for a year to summit Mt. Reiner in Washington as a way to beat their addictions and find a “new high”. I wasn’t sure how I’d like this one, but it did make my top 10 favorite hiking movies.
The Summit – A movie about the deadliest day on the world’s most dangerous mountain, when 11 climbers mysteriously perished on K2.
Wrong Turn – A woman and a group of friends set out to hike the Appalachian Trail when they run into a community that will protect their identity and location at all costs.
Redwood Highway – An older woman who lives in a retirement community and is estranged from her family decides to hike 80 miles to the Oregon Coast to attend her granddaughter’s wedding as an unexpected guest. This is one of those hiking movies you just stumble across and it is definitely one of my favorites now!
Touching The Void – Based on the book by the same name, two friends set out to hike/climb a peak in the Andes. Just as they reached the 21,000-foot peak, disaster struck as one of them plunged off the vertical face of an ice ledge. This is their story of survival against all odds. Based on a true story.
Meru – Three renowned mountaineers attempt the impossible climb of Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru in what was supposed to only be a 7-day trip that turned into a 20-day ordeal with depleting food rations. This is more of a climbing movie, but worth a mention.
Never Hike Alone – Only on YouTube. A fan tribute to Friday the 13th, Never Hike Alone follows an adventure blogger, Kyle McLeod, who uncovers the long-lost remains of Camp Crystal Lake while on a solo backpacking trip. I didn’t have high hopes for this movie, but was very pleasantly surprised! Great production.
Find Me – After his friend/co-worker goes missing, a no-life workaholic accountant decides to break away and go find his friend who has left clues for him in National Parks across the West. The acting isn’t the best, but the storyline and adventure make up for it.
Hiking Movies to Avoid
So as I made my way through watching hiking movies. I came across some that were just unbelievably horrible.
The Hike – Couple takes off on a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains. They soon find disturbing clues they are not alone. They push themselves past their comfort zones to try and escape the woods from things both seen and unseen. It is supposedly based on true events of a Native American legend. As far as hiking movies go, the acting and production are completely awful. I couldn’t make it past the first 30 minutes it was so awful.
BONUS OUTDOOR ADVENTURE MOVIES:
In addition to the hiking movies above, here are some bonus outdoor adventure movies/series I like:
Eco-Challenge – 66 Teams compete in an 11-day expedition that is being called the world’s toughest race.
The Last Descent – Based on actual events, The Last Descent tells the story of John Jones who in 2009 climbed down into Nutty Putty Cave in Utah with his brother to explore an unmapped area of the cave and became stuck in a hole only 18 inches wide and 150 feet below ground.
Do you have any hiking movies you like that didn’t make the list? Leave a comment below and let me know what they are!