The recent ramifications of the pandemic have been tough for all the travelers like me. I know it’s difficult for a mountain lover and wandering heart to be stuck at home due to any reason. I’ve figured the best way to cheer up is to watch hiking movies.
Although, there is no proper substitute for spending your time outdoors. If you enjoy hiking, climbing, camping, or any other outdoor activities that involve passing long hours in the wilderness, you know how addicting and restorative it is.
I’ll be sharing the top hiking movies that you can thoroughly enjoy if you love hiking! You’ll undoubtedly love the scenery and riveting plots.
My Top 15 Hiking Movies
If you want to indulge in the wilderness and live through the main character of a movie, hiking movies can be a great choice.
The captivating stories mostly take place in beautiful locations and the theme is centered around the journey of mountaineers overcoming hardships. It could be a great way of boosting and lifting your spirit.
Here are my favorite 15 hiking movies:
- Friday the 13th (2009)
Friday the 13th is an American slasher film, written by Mark Swift and Damian Shanon. It was directed by Marcus Nispel. Basically, it’s a reboot of the 1980’s Friday the 13th franchise.
It shows that a group of teenagers set their tent near an abandoned summer camp known as Crystal Lake (sound familiar?) where some gruesome murders took place in 1980.
If you’re looking for a camping adventure and crime thriller, then you will undoubtedly fall in love with this movie.
- Into the Wild (2007)
This movie tells the true story of a man named Christopher McCandless. It was nominated for Golden Globes awards two times and won an award once.
Into the Wild was written, directed, and co-produced by Sean Penn. It’s adapted from a non-fiction book written by Jon Krakauer. The book is also renowned by the name Into the Wild.
Christopher McCandless left all the material possessions after graduating from Emory University and hiked into the Alaskan wilderness across North America in the 1990s. He gave all his savings to the charity and decided to live in the wilderness. Along his journey, he encountered several characters that helped to shape his life better.
The film captured the heart of every wanderer, adventurer, and lost soul who’s not sure where they’re heading to but determined to find everything they have been looking for. You can argue that this isn’t a type of hiking but I would say it inspires me as it’s a true story of Christopher McCandless who survived in the wilderness of Alaska.
- Wild (2014)
Wild is another movie based on the true events of Cheryl Strayed who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and found her path to heal. It’s an American biographical drama and adventure film directed by Jean-Marc Vallee. The role of Cheryl Strayed was played by Resse Witherspoon, a well-known Hollywood actress.
The movie is an inspiration for all the hikers who’re looking forward to getting their foot out on the longest hiking trails in Ontario. It describes the mental anguish, physical struggle, and personal growth of a hiker through the journey. Cheryl’s journey wasn’t a smooth one as she was an inexperienced hiker who was mentally devastated.
After years of destructive and reckless behavior, she made a rash decision to hike a thousand miles of the longest hiking trail, the pacific crest, all alone only with sheer determination. The wild captures the young woman’s pleasures and terrors and leads her to the ultimate healing of her mental and physical health.
- Tracks (2013)
Tracks is another favorite hiking movie based on the true story of a woman who embarked on an almost 1700 mile journey only with her pet dog and four camels. This drama film was directed by John Curran. The two main characters were played by Adam Driver and Mia Wasikowska. It’s adapted from the memoir of Robyn Davidson.
The movie garnered huge popularity and was shown as a special presentation at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and in the official competition at 70th Venice International Film Festival 2013. It’s a true story of the nine-month journey of a woman across the Australian desert. She trekked across the harsh desert to reach the ocean.
The purpose of this woman Robyn Davidson was to reach the ocean to find herself on a unique journey of self-discovery. If you love popular hiking movies like the wild, into the wild, then be ready to enthrall with Tracks.
It’s definitely t the top of my list.
- 127 Hours (2010)
127 Hours is the true and riveting survival story of a rock climber who was trapped by a fallen boulder in the remote Utah canyon. The biographical survival and drama film was produced, co-written, and directed by Danny Boyle. It starred James Franco, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara, etc.
The movie shows the survival story of Aron Ralston who saved himself after the fallen boulder crashed his arm and trapped himself in the isolated canyon in Utah. He was trapped for the next five days during which time he examines his life, recalls his friends, family, lovers, and other hikers who he met before the accident.
He tried to summon the courage to survive by any means necessary. The film shows the unstoppable spirit of Aron. It could be an inspiration for all the hikers like me because you never know what may happen when you’re going out to taste the wilderness.
- The Way (2010)
The Way is undoubtedly one of the top hiking movies. It shows the powerful relationships between people and families around the world. It’s an American-Spanish drama film, produced, directed, and written by Emilio Estevez. The movie starred Martin Sheen, James Nesbitt, Deborah Kara along with other actors.
It tells the story of a father who’s not an experienced hiker but decides to start his historical pilgrimage in order to honor his son. His adult son was killed while hiking the Camino De Santiago in the Pyrenees in the storm.
It’s an inspirational story about the challenges, friends, families while navigating the complicated and ever-changing world. Being an inexperienced trekker, the father couldn’t believe the incredible impact this journey would leave on his entire life.
- The Way Back (2010)
Youtube: MOVIE PREDICTOR
The Way Back is a true-story-based hiking movie. Still, it’s more like a survivalist trekking movie than a straight hiking movie. Somehow it got negative press after release but it’s one of the best movies that I have seen. This American film was directed by Peter Weir.
Although it was inspired by Slawomir Rawicz’s memoir, three other men attempted to flee communist Russia in 1941. The movie tells their story along with the four others who tried to escape with them.
Slawomir Rawicz and other prisoners of war escaped from the Soviet Gulag to freedom after walking almost 4,000 miles. Along the way, they faced countless dilemmas throughout their journey towards ultimate freedom.
If you’re a hiker or mountaineer, there will be a lot of survival tactics to learn from this movie.
- A Walk in The Woods (2015)
Youtube: Movieclips Trailers
A Walk in the Woods is based on a bestselling book by Bill Bryson and directed by Ken Kwapis. It starred Nick Nolte, Robert Redford, and Emma Thompson. In this comedy adventure, the travel writer Bryson decides to challenge himself and hike in the Appalachian Trail.
It’s over two thousand miles of America’s spectacular, unspoiled and rugged countryside. Bryson decides to reconnect with the country by spending time in the wilderness with his oldest friends. This gives you the real feel of hiking through the woods endlessly for months on end.
The movie shows more about the friendship between the oldest friends after they have stepped out of their daily lives. Both of them had a different definition of “adventure”. It depicts the real struggle and mental dilemmas while traveling for months and how it can lead to healing and recovery.
- Edie (2017)
Youtube: Arrow Films
Edie is a British drama film, written by Elizabeth O’Halloran and directed by Simon Hunter. It starred Sheila Hancock, Paul Brannigan, and Kevin Guthrie. It’s one of the most inspiring movies on the list as it shows how an 83-year-old woman packs her bag and climbs Mount Suilven in Scotland.
Edie always dreamed of climbing mountains but her husband never allowed her to pursue this dream. In her late 80s after her husband passed away, her daughter recommends living in a retirement home, but Edie thought it was never too late to pack her old camping bags and embark on a new adventure.
Even though it’s a fictitious movie, it teaches you about the power of your thoughts. You will learn that age is just a number and it doesn’t limit your capability.
- Everest (2015)
Youtube: Universal Pictures
Everest is one of my all-time favorite hiking adventure films. It’s based on true events that took place on Mount Everest in 1996, leaving the hikers in unbelievably harsh conditions. This adventure film is produced and directed by Baltasar Kormakur, and the story was written by Simon Beaufoy and William Nicholson.
The movie stars Jason Clarke, Josh Brolin, Jake Gyllenhall, and other renowned actors. It focuses on the attempts to survive by two commercial expedition groups who started their final ascent towards Everest’s summit. It shows mother nature in its fiercest form.
There was little warning, but a violent storm struck the mountain, leaving the hikers in the harshest conditions ever imaginable. It was the fiercest blizzards encountered by mankind. The team endured freezing temperatures, blistering winds, and an epic battle to survive in this nearly impossible situation.
- Free Solo (2018)
Youtube: National Geographic
Free solo is an award-winning documentary movie about a rock climber named Alexander Honnold. He tried to be the first-ever person to climb the El Capitan solo. The El Capitan is the vertical rock formation found in the Yosemite National Park. This American documentary film was directed by Jimmy Chin and Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi.
You’ll discover how precisely a filmmaker captures the video and the audio without even distracting Alexander during the dangerous activity.
If you’re looking for a movie that will leave you at the edge of your seat with sweaty palms, you’ll love this one!
- Wildlike (2014)
Youtube: Movieclips Indie
Wildlike won over 100s of awards for its presentation and storyline. This American feature film was directed and written by Frank Hall Green. It was shot in Alaska in locations like Palmer, Juneau, and Denali National Park. The movie starred Ella Purnell, Brian Geraghty, and many more.
The story represents a daring young girl who was sent to live with her uncle by her struggling mother after her father’s death. Mackenzie was determined to make her way to Seattle to find her mother but she went deeper into the Alaskan interior as she crossed paths with another backpacker.
It turned out to be a lifetime adventure for Mackenzie. The story can make you crave to embark on an Alaskan adventure. There are so many different angles that teach you how to deal with struggles that life throws at you.
- The Ritual (2017)
The Ritual is a British horror film, written by Joe Barton, directed by David Bruckner. It stars Rafe Spall, Robert James-Coller, and others. If you’re up for having some goosebumps and fun at the same time, play The Ritual on your screen.
The movie shows a group of friends planning a vacation after reuniting. They decide to experience the taste of wilderness, so they plan a hiking trip to Sweden. But, one of the friends gets badly injured along the way, leaving the others with no choice but to look for a lodge that’s a few hours away.
During the raging rainstorm outside, they experienced the unexpected in the abandoned and spooky house. This is a perfect movie for a horror-loving hiker.
- Beyond the Edge (2013)
Youtube: IFC Films
Have you ever wondered about the journey of the first summit to Mt. Everest? This docu-drama will show you the hurdles faced by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay who are known for their historical climb to Mount Everest for the first time in 1953. The best part is that the movie includes original photographs and footage from the expedition.
You can also check out the audio clip of the interview with Hillary that was recorded by the leader of that British expedition, John Hunt. It garnered positive reviews at several film festivals but overall it will show you the real struggle of climbing towards the summit of Mount Everest- the world’s highest point!
- Meru (2015)
Youtube: Movieclips Indie
Meru is one of the best documentary hiking movies that I have watched so far. It shows the struggle of three elite climbers who find their way to climb Mount Meru through several losses and obsession. Mount Meru is considered the most coveted climb in the Indian Himalayas.
The documentary film showed the first ascent of the Shark’s Fin route on the Meru peak. After a failed attempt to summit Meru virtually in 2008, Jimmy Chin, Conrad Anker, and Renan Ozturk returned to the mountain to conquer the peak, a footwall known as “Shark’s Fin”. It was co-directed by Elizabeth Chain Vassarhelyi and Jimmy Chin.
Well, I hope you give some of these movies a try when you’re not hiking. If anything, they can be a source of motivation, thrill, adventure, and entertainment!
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