If you’re looking for the best hiking movies, I’ve got the ultimate list for you. These trekking movies tell captivating hiking stories featuring outdoor adventures from around the world. Whether these adventure hiking movies are based on true stories or fictitious, you’re sure to love the riveting plots and beautiful scenery. For hiking enthusiasts and beginner hikers alike, check out these top hiking films.
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Best Hiking Movies: 127 Hours (2010)
127 Hours, starring James Franco, tells the true life story about Aron Ralston. He is a mountain climber who gets trapped beneath a boulder in an isolated canyon in Utah. During the five days in which he is trapped, Ralston examines the moments and people of his life. He tries to summon the courage to do what it takes to escape. 127 Hours refers to the amount of time between the day of his accident to the moment he was rescued.
Appalachian Impressions will take you on an epic hiking journey on the 2,173 mile Appalachian Trail in the USA. You’ll follow filmmaker Mark Flagler as he takes you through 14 states over a six month hiking trip. It’s a captivating tale about the hikers he meets, as well as the gorgeous scenery and impressions of small town America. After watching this movie, you’ll be planning your next adventures on this incredible hiking trail!
Everest is a biographical adventure film that’s based on the true events of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster. It focuses on two expedition groups as they attempt to summit the mountain. With little advance warning, a fierce storm ravages Mount Everest, creating unbelievably harsh conditions for the hikers. The two teams must face seriously intense conditions to try to survive. It’s one of the most thrilling and best hiking movies out there. Looking for streaming options? Everest is a hiking movie on Netflix that you can check out anytime.
Free Solo is a documentary film about rock climber, Alexander Honnold. He attempts to be the first person to complete a free solo climb of El Capitan, a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park. The film focuses on the climb itself and the production behind capturing his climbing attempts. How can the filmmakers capture video and audio without distracting Honnold during this dangerous activity? If you’re interested in watching one of the best documentary movies about hiking, you can stream Free Solo on Disney+.
Into the Wild, adapted from the book of the same title, follows the tale of Christopher McCandless. He hiked across America and up to Alaska to live in the wilderness. After graduating university, he gives up his material possessions and money to embark on this journey. McCandless assumes the new name, “Alexander Supertramp”, and encounters a variety of characters on his way that shape his experiences.
Meru is one of the best documentary adventure hiking movies that follows the first ascent of the “Shark’s Fin” route on Meru Peak in the Himalayas. Three elite hikers and climbers are obsessed with reaching the top of Meru Peak after a failed attempt in 2008. They return to the mountains three years later on a second attempt to scale the 4000 foot wall known as Shark’s Fin. Will the three climbers achieve their dreams by dominating this treacherous climb?
The hiking documentary, Mile…Mile and a Half, chronicles the journey of five friends on the John Muir Trail in California. The John Muir Trail is a 211 mile path from Yosemite to Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States. While their goal is to hike the entire trail in 25 days, this is one of the top trekking movies that explores the relationships that can be formed through a mutual interest in hiking. It explores the bond between the friends and the cast of characters they meet along the way.
Only the Essential (2014)
Only the Essential is a documentary hiking movie that follows the journey of two friends, Casey Gannon and Colin Arisman, as they hike the entire Pacific Crest Trail. Armed with cameras in their hands, they documented their five month summer adventure on the PCT from Mexico to Canada, through California, Oregon, and Washington.
As far as I can tell, Only the Essential is only available to watch online on YouTube. It’s wonderful because it’s free to watch this amazing documentary. I’ve posted the full length movie above, so feel free to watch it directly from this blog post!
Southbounders is a dramatic coming of age story that chronicles a young woman’s journey on the Appalachian Trail. The main character, Olivia, is a medical student who is struggling with her studies and daily life. Olivia attempts a thru-hike of the entire trail as an attempt to fully embrace nature, boost her confidence, and embark on an adventure of self-discovery. This is one of the best hiking movies because the characters and their endeavors are highly relatable, whether you’ve attempted a similar trek or not.
Tell it on the Mountain follows five hikers on one of the most impressive thru-hikes in the world, the Pacific Crest Trail. The trip lasts from April to October between Mexico and Canada. There are a variety of terrains to tackle: snow-capped mountain passes, dry desert trails, and rushing rivers to cross. 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.
Tracks is a dramatic film, based on the true story of a woman’s nine month journey across the Australian desert. She embarks on a 1700 mile journey with four camels and her loyal pet dog. The movie is adapted from author Robyn Davidson’s memoir of the same title. If you’re mesmerized by the more popular movies about hiking, like Into the Wild and Wild, you’ll surely be enthralled with Tracks.
A Walk in the Woods is one of the best hiking films. It’s based on the bestselling book by author, Bill Bryson. Bryson, played by Robert Redford, returned to the USA after spending two decades living in England. He decides that the best way to reconnect with his home country is by spending lots of time in nature. He decides to attempt hiking the entire Appalachian Trail with one of his oldest friends, Stephen Katz, played by Nick Nolte. This movie is as much about the journey as it is about the camaraderie between two friends as they step out of the normalcy of their daily lives.
The Way is one of the top movies about hiking. It explores the powerful relationships between families and people from around the world. A father (Martin Sheen) travels overseas to collect the body of his adult son (Emilio Estevez). He was killed in the Pyrenees while hiking the Camino de Santiago (The Way of Saint James). Although the father is not an experienced hiker, he decides to embark on this historical pilgrimage to honour his son’s adventures. Little does he know that this hike will have an incredible impact on his life through the people he embarks on the trails.
The Way Back is a movie inspired by the real life story told in the memoir, The Long Walk. It tells the story of three men, attempting to escape communist Russia. They travel 4000 miles by foot from Russia to India, suffering through many harsh conditions: a lack of food, freezing nights, blinding snowstorms, swarms of mosquitoes, and dry deserts. The three encounter many dilemmas along the way that extend beyond the trek to freedom.
If you’re looking for some inspiration before you tackle one of the longest hiking trails in Ontario, watch the inspiring movie, Wild. It’s based on a novel by Cheryl Strayed and stars Reese Witherspoon. Wild details Cheryl’s adventures as an inexperienced hiker taking on the Pacific Crest Trail after suffering personal losses. It describes her physical struggles, her mental anguish, and personal growth through this healing journey.
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