14 Best Hiking Movies & Documentaries to Watch Right Now

Collage of five different hiking movies posters: Wild, Into the Void, 127 Hours, A Walk in the Woods, 14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible
Our Favorite Hiking Movies & Documentaries

Even the most outdoorsy among us enjoy a good movie night.

But with millions of different titles available, deciding what to watch often feels impossible.

Luckily, the best hiking movies and documentaries allow us to experience an adventure from the comfort of our couches.

These films cover every genre, from awe-inspiring to feel-good, cautionary tale to heart-pounding thriller.

Many of them will inspire audiences to get out and explore new trails all over the world, like Canada’s Great Divide Trail or Spain’s Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.

Who said hiking was just a walk in the woods?

(Though that’s on this list, too.)

If you love trail life and the great outdoors, here are the best hiking movies and documentaries you’ll want to watch right now.

Hiking Movies

These hiking movies are about all the fun, fascinating, and even frightening things that keep us coming back to the great outdoors time and again.

Most are based on true stories of survival and strength in the wilderness, and all are sure to spark some wanderlust.

A Walk in the Woods (2015)

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“A Walk in the Woods” is based on Bill Bryson’s chronicles of the Appalachian Trail, which Bryson attempted to thru-hike with a friend in 1996.

This dramedy is a tale of friendship, resilience, and ridiculousness and shows how hikers can often be their own worst enemies.

Starring: Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, Emma Thompson
Director: Ken Kwapis
Runtime: 1h 44m


Wild (2014)

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Reese Witherspoon stars in this adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s best-selling 2012 memoir about her Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike attempt.

The film delves into heavy themes of personal growth and life-altering grief, so viewers may need a few tissues for this one.

Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern, Gaby Hoffmann
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Runtime: 1h 55m


The Way (2010)

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Set in France and Spain, “The Way” follows a father who decides to hike the Camino de Santiago after his son’s untimely death on the trail.

This is another tearjerker, but it shows how healing is much like thru-hiking — you start by putting one foot in front of the other.

Starring: Martin Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Deborah Kara Unger
Director: Emilio Estevez
Runtime: 2h 3m


Tracks (2013)

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Based on Robyn Davidson’s memoir, “Tracks” recounts one woman’s attempt to walk across Australia with her dog and four camels for company.

Besides showcasing some gorgeous Aussie scenery, the film shares the sense of catharsis gained on a long, seemingly impossible trek.

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Adam Driver, Lily Pearl
Director: John Curran
Runtime: 1h 52m


Everest (2015)

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Though Mount Everest expeditions remain as popular as ever, this movie is a stark reminder of the mountain’s power — and the perils of underestimating it.

“Everest” is based on the 1996 Mount Everest disaster, in which several professional mountaineers and guides perished.

Starring: Jason Clarke, Ang Phula Sherpa, Thomas M. Wright
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Runtime: 2h 1m


127 Hours (2010)

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Aron Ralston, who cut off his arm in 2003 to escape from a rockfall, has been immortalized in Hollywood — and in lectures to solo hikers.

“127 Hours” covers the events before and after Ralston’s self-amputation, a friendly-ish reminder to always share your hiking plans.

Starring: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara
Director: Danny Boyle
Runtime: 1h 34m


Edie (2017)

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“Edie” reminds audiences that it’s never too late to go on a grand adventure.

The titular character, a spirited 80-something woman, is facing the possibility of being moved into a retirement home.

Instead, she decides to embark on a trek through the Scottish Highlands.

Starring: Sheila Hancock, Kevin Guthrie, Paul Brannigan
Director: Simon Hunter
Runtime: 1h 42m


Hiking Documentaries

As moving as fictionalized films often are, for some, there’s nothing like a documentary.

These docs share true stories starring real-life adventurers who pushed themselves to do the impossible, test the limits of human power, and simply get out and go.

Touching the Void (2003)

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This documentary accounts the first ascent—and nearly fatal descent—of the west face of Siula Grande, a 20,814-foot-tall peak deep in the Peruvian Andes.

Though nail-biter, “Touching the Void” shows why hikers can and will continue to push the envelope.

Starring: Simon Yates, Joe Simpson, Brendan Makey
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Runtime: 1h 46m


Do More With Less

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If you want a peek at all 2,650-plus miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, “Do More With Less” is the movie for you.

The concept behind this doc is simple: the filmmakers set out to record a series of conversations with PCT thru-hikers and shared the results with the world.

Starring: Travis Barron, Eric Timmerman
Director: Travis Barron, Eric Timmerman
Runtime: 1h 26m


14 Peaks: Nothing is Impossible

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“14 Peaks” follows Nepalese mountaineer Nirmal “Nims” Purja on his quest to summit all 14 eight-thousander peaks in under seven months.

The film was received positively at the time of its 2021 premiere, though Purja has since faced a series of sexual harassment allegations.

Starring: Nirmal Purja, Suchi Purja, Klára Kolouchová
Director: Torquil Jones
Runtime: 1h 41m


Out There (2023)

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If you thought the Continental Divide Trail ended at the Canadian border, think again.

“Out There” focuses on a thru-hiking couple tackling the 1,123-km Great Divide Trail, which traverses the rugged Canadian Rockies.

You can watch the movie for free on YouTube.

Starring: Ryan Brown, Ilse Brown
Director: Ryan Brown
Runtime: 1h 19m


Tell it on the Mountain

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Another documentary that may make you want to hike the PCT, “Tell It on the Mountain” is centered on a small group of PCT hikers facing some of the trek’s most challenging terrain.

Along the way, they have to find the will to keep going when the going gets tough.

Starring: Scott Williamson, Billygoat, Alina Budia
Director: Lisa Diener
Runtime: 2h 2m


Mile… Mile & a Half

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Hiking the 211-mile-long John Muir Trail, which runs through California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, is one thing — hiking it during a heavy snow year is another.

But five friends set out to do just that in “Mile… Mile & a Half,” encountering plenty of obstacles as they go.

Starring: Jason Fitzpatrick, Ric Serena, Jen Serena
Director: Jason Fitzpatrick, Ric Serena
Runtime: 1h 28m


Why do I hike

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At just 23 minutes long, this movie is a quick watch that covers all the bliss and despair, trials and tribulations, and just plain fun that is hiking.

If “Why do I hike” leaves you wanting more, Croatian filmmaker Nikola Horvat released a 1.5-hour-long follow-up in 2023.

Starring: Nikola Horvat
Director: Nikola Horvat
Runtime: 23m


Which Hiking Movie or Documentary is Call Your Name?

Whether they make you shed a few tears or remind you of the sheer joy of the wilderness, these 14 films will keep you entertained for hours on end.

By the time the credits roll, you might just be ready to tackle a monumental adventure of your own.

Most of these movies can be watched on various streaming services, though you might need to — gasp — purchase a DVD to watch some of the others.

You could find your new favorite movie as a result, though, so consider it an investment.

No more scrolling through Netflix for hours, trying to find something worthwhile to watch.

Next time you’re planning a movie night, check out one of the best hiking movies and documentaries and break out the popcorn.

Happy viewing and happy trails!

Last Updated on July 2, 2024

Photo of author

Cu Fleshman

Cu Fleshman is a writer, editor, and hiker originally from the backwoods of South Carolina. She now resides in Southern California where she hikes, backpacks, and always has an eye out for her next adventure.

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