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10 Best Documentaries About Hiking

These documentaries about hiking take you on a journey through nature’s grandeur, from towering mountain peaks to lush, untamed forests. They show not only the physical challenges of traversing diverse terrains but also delve into the profound connection between humans and the great outdoors.


Documentaries About Hiking

With each step, hikers navigate not only the winding paths beneath their feet but also the intricate tapestry of ecosystems, cultures, and personal discoveries. As the wilderness unfolds, these films invite you to witness the transformative power of the hiking experience.

Many of these documentaries about hiking are personal YouTube-style ones which give a brilliant look into life on the trail, as well as some more mainstream ones.


Mile… Mile & a Half (2013)

Mile… Mile & a Half follows a group of artists who embark on a 211-mile journey along the John Muir Trail in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The trail runs through some of the most breathtaking and remote wilderness areas in California.

The documentary captures the stunning landscapes, challenges, and experiences of the hikers as they make their way through the wilderness. The title, “Mile… Mile & a Half,” refers to the average distance they cover each day during their trek.

The film not only showcases the physical and mental demands of long-distance hiking but also explores the transformative power of nature and the camaraderie that develops among the hikers.


Tell It On The Mountain (2013)

Tell It On The Mountain is one of the best documentaries about thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, which involves walking 2,663 miles from Mexico to Canada.

The journey lasts from April to October and with an average of about 20 miles a day, every day, on foot, it is a rigorous hike. These hikers face bone-dry deserts, raging rivers, snow-covered mountain passes, mosquitoes, blisters, torrential rains… and the urge to quit.

Follow a half dozen of the 300 or so hikers who attempt a PCT thru-hike every year. Armed with cameras, they give us an insider’s view into what it takes to spend half a year living in the wild.


The Long Start to the Journey (2015)

The Long Start to the Journey follows filmmaker Chris Gallaway on his attempt to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail and to learn what the trail means to individuals he meets along the way.

Chris (or ‘Frost’ as he comes to be known on the trail) meets hikers young and old with wildly disparate backgrounds, ‘trail angels’ who provide food and support along the way, and an assortment of wildlife that make the journey much more exciting.

This is a personal story of struggle and perseverance as well as a historical account of the origins and cultural relevance of the Appalachian Trail.


Only the Essential: Pacific Crest Trail (2015)

In the summer of 2013, Casey Gannon and Colin Arisman thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail with cameras in hand. “Only The Essential” is the story of their 5-month, 2668-mile journey on foot from Mexico to Canada across the wilderness of California, Oregon, and Washington.

This documentary about hiking is filmed entirely by hikers and gives an excellent insight into the long-distance hiking life and the Pacific Crest Trail.


Distant North – Hiking the Kungsleden (2016)

Distant North shows a 440km trek through the arctic wilderness of northern Sweden along the famous Kungsleden Trail.

Setting off in September 2015 from Abisko Mountain Station, the hikers spent the next 30 days heading south for the finish line in Hemavan, encountering many wondrous sights and life-changing moments along the way.

On a personal note, having hiked the Kungsleden Trail myself, it’s one of my favourite hikes in the world.


Out There: The Great Divide Trail (2023)

Out There is an extraordinary adventure along Canada’s Great Divide Trail, a 1200km long wilderness route through the heart of the Canadian Rockies.

This outdoor film showcases the beauty and challenges of one of the world’s most pristine and remote trails. The film follows a young couple, Kodak & Cinnamon, as they embark on an epic journey through the rugged Canadian Rockies.

Along the way, they face unpredictable weather conditions, treacherous river crossings, and wildlife — from grizzly bears to wolves and pikas.

The documentary also explores the origins of the Great Divide Trail and details the challenges of building and maintaining a long, mountainous route.

This is one of the best documentaries about hiking if you have an interest in long-distance hiking in Canada.


Hiking 7 days in the Dragon Mountains of South Africa (2022)

This is an excellent hiking documentary that follows a hiker who hiked for 8 days in the Drakensberg mountains on the border of South Africa and Lesotho.

The route started at Cathedral Peak in uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa and ended via the infamous Sentinel Ladder.

If you have any interest of hiking in South Africa then this is the video for you to watch.


Appalachian Impressions (2004)

Appalachian Impressions follows the 2,173-mile journey along the most famous long-distance hiking trail in the world, the Appalachian Trail.

This documentary shows the hikers who are attempting the hike and their feelings and experiences of doing the hike.


The Art of Walking (2022)

The Art of Walking is another one about the Pacific Crest Trail and follows hiker and YouTuber Austin Seder as he documents his hike and the stories he finds along the way.

On a personal note, I haven’t hiked the Pacific Crest Trail myself, but it’s always been high on my list of long-distance hiking to do. One day!


Why do I hike (2020)

This is a great short documentary where a hiker explains his passion for hiking and why he always ends up going back to long-distance hiking.

This gives an intimate portrait of the soul of a hiker.


Hiking

Hiking is one of my favourite things to do in life and these documentaries about hiking will give you more insight into it and some inspiration to hike some of the places mentioned.

For more on hiking have a look at my hiking guides.


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