16 Best Hiking Movies [2024]

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best hiking movies list

The best hiking movies not only take you on a journey through breathtaking landscapes but also delve into human emotions, endurance, and in some cases, the raw fight for survival.

These films often mirror our own life journeys and the challenges we face, creating a profound connection with audiences that transcends the screen.

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Whether these films are accounts of true events or fictional tales set on famous trails, they tap into the historical and cultural fabric of hiking.

From stories that follow the footsteps of solitary wanderers to those that tackle the might of mountains like Everest, hiking movies possess a unique space in the film industry.

These narratives often explore themes of self-discovery, resilience, human nature, and the overpowering allure of the natural world, elevating them beyond mere adventure tales.

What are the best Hiking Movies?

Hiking on screen often transcends mere adventure, reflecting deep cultural narratives and personal quests for meaning.

These films and documentaries offer both historical insights and emotional journeys connected to significant trails worldwide.

Movies centered on hiking often weave the physical journey with a metaphorical one, as you see characters seeking self-discovery or undergoing a pilgrimage.

1. The Way

The Camino de Santiago, a historical pilgrimage route, is a vivid backdrop in films like “The Way,” portraying the transformative experience of the travelers.

2. Wild

Similarly, “Wild,” based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, showcases the healing and introspective power of the Pacific Crest Trail.

Here, Strayed’s character retraces her life’s missteps while tackling a solo hike, mirroring the trail’s challenging terrain with her emotional battles.

Hiking documentaries have evolved to capture the raw essence of the wilderness experience and the personal stories of the hikers.

3. Tell it on the Mountain

“Tell It on the Mountain,” for instance, details the stories of those journeying along the Pacific Crest Trail, honoring their varied reasons for undertaking such a trek.

4. Edie

Moreover, “Edie” portrays an elderly woman who, in an act of self-healing and empowerment, aims to climb Mount Suilven in Scotland, highlighting not just the hike but the indomitable human spirit.

These documentaries serve as a testament to the enduring allure of iconic trails like the Appalachian Trail and the John Muir Trail, celebrating both the history of hiking and the individual tales of courage and endurance.

When you explore the genre of biographical and true story hiking films, you’re engaging with powerful narratives that are grounded in real-life experiences. These adaptations often reflect the raw human spirit and the profound interactions between people and nature.

5. Into the Wild

Into the Wild (2007) captures the true story of Christopher McCandless’s journey into the Alaskan wilderness. It’s not just a movie; it’s an invitation to ponder the essence of freedom and the cost of extreme solitude.

6. 127 Hours

127 Hours (2010) is a gripping tale of survival, showcasing Aron Ralston’s harrowing ordeal trapped by a boulder in a remote canyon and the unthinkable measures he takes to escape.

7. Tracks

Tracks (2013) presents the mesmerizing journey of Robyn Davidson, who trekked 1,700 miles across Australian deserts with four camels and her dog, highlighting the strength found in solitude.

8. A Walk in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods (2015), based on Bill Bryson’s memoir, encapsulates the humor and challenges of tackling the Appalachian Trail later in life.

The chemistry between Robert Redford and Nick Nolte adds a light-hearted touch to the arduous trek, showcasing the trail’s ability to forge bonds and reignite a zest for life.

9. The Way Back

The Way Back (2010), while dramatizing a grueling escape trek across the Siberian arctic, underlines the harsh realities and profound splendor of extreme wilderness.

It’s a survival epic that stretches the traditional boundaries of hiking films, reminding you of the relentless human spirit.

10. Wildlike

Wildlike (2014), a lesser-known gem, captures the therapeutic nature of hiking through the bond formed between a troubled teen and a lone backpacker in Alaska.

As they navigate the wilderness, the film beautifully portrays the healing aspects of nature.

Modern Contributions to the Hiking Genre

In the last few years, filmmakers have taken to the trails to create stories and documentaries that connect you with the grit and beauty of hiking.

Leveraging the power of cinema, these works provide an immersive experience of adventure and self-discovery.

11. Only the Essential

Only the Essential: This documentary captures the essence of the thru-hiking spirit. It follows the journey of hikers on the 2,653-mile Pacific Crest Trail. As you watch it, you might find yourself virtually trekking alongside these adventurers through California, Oregon, and Washington.

12. As it Happens

As It Happens: If you’re looking for a raw and unfiltered account of trail life, this film offers just that. It’s an intimate view of the ups and downs faced by hikers committed to completing the Continental Divide Trail.

13. North of the Sun

North of the Sun (Nordfor Sola): Diverging from the traditional trail, this film brings you the story of two friends who spend a winter in isolation on an Arctic island. This documentary stands out for its mix of surfing, snowboarding, and sustainability alongside its outdoor adventure.

14. Do More with Less

Do More with Less: A project that explores the concept of backpacking with minimal gear and resources. This film invites you to delve into the experiences of Pacific Crest Trail hikers as they share tales of their minimalist adventures.

15. The Ritual

The Ritual (2017): This feature film offers a thrilling twist to the hiking genre. When a group of friends ventures into the Scandinavian wilderness, their journey turns into a nightmarish ordeal.

Elements of horror merge with the wilderness experience in this film.

16. Southbounders

Southbounders: Although not a recent movie (released in 2005), it has continued relevance as it sharply captures the spirit of long-distance hiking on the Appalachian Trail. The film’s dedication to authenticity gives you a vivid portrayal of trail culture and the challenges that hikers face.

When you watch hiking films, you encounter a rich tapestry of themes ranging from the raw struggle for survival and adventure to the profound appreciation of nature and landscapes.

These films take you through visceral experiences and introspective journeys, often set against the backdrop of the world’s most awe-inspiring scenery.

Nature and Landscapes

The beauty of the outdoors is magnanimously captured in films that focus on nature and landscapes.

Films like Wild, based on Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, use long-distance hiking as a narrative tool for healing and transformation.

The journey across the Pacific Crest Trail is not just a physical trek, but also an odyssey through verdant forests and over towering mountain passes.

This showcases geographical grandeur and invokes a deep appreciation for the natural world.

Natural Elements Celebrated in Film:

  • Mountains: Conveying the grand-scale challenges and solitude
  • Forests and Deserts: Depicting the diversity and resilience of ecosystems
  • Open Skies: Symbolizing freedom and the limitless possibilities of exploration

Influential Hiking Movies and Their Impact

Hiking movies have the power to inspire you to explore nature and challenge your own limits. They bring the beauty and rawness of the great outdoors right into your living room, sparking a sense of adventure.

Standout Hiking Films

The Way (2010) stands as a testament to the transformational journey of walking the Camino de Santiago. Directed by Emilio Estevez and starring Martin Sheen, it’s a poignant exploration of grief, companionship, and endurance.

You can witness how “The Way” emphasizes the internal journey as much as the physical one, resonating deeply with audiences who seek meaning in their travels.


In addition to these specific titles, the resurgence of hiking movies, documentaries and outdoor movies broadens your perspective on the diversity of experiences one can encounter in the wilderness.

Each film, whether it’s a heart-pounding narrative or a serene documentary, contributes a unique narrative to the hiking genre.

Immerse into your senses with:
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Thanks for reading this article on the best hiking movies.

Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and passionate hiker who believes in exploring the world on foot with good food. Follow her journey as she shares science-based hiking tips and advocates for sustainable tourism.