From beautiful scenery to harrowing scenes of survival in the wilderness, these hiking movies will be a great watch when you want the excitement of a hike from the comfort of your own home, without even needing to put on your hiking boots. Movies about hiking are the best way to get that adrenaline pump when you don’t have time for the real thing!
Here is our list of the best hiking and outdoors movies to add to your must-watch list!
This one is a classic! Based on Jon Krakauer’s book of the same name, it tells the story of Christopher McCandless who decides to travel across North America after graduating from college. He hitchhiked to Alaska and with minimal supplies and wanted to life off the land. Scenes of McCandless’ adventures are beautiful and captivating, just like the tragic storyline. His transformative journey and the colorful characters he meets on the way are fascinating and gives you a lot to think about. “Every once in a while, a movie will come outta nowhere and blow your socks off,” JimmyO writes in his review on Joblo. It is a powerful movie that will haunt you for a long time, as evidenced by the good critics and viewers rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
In the mood for a moving drama? Wild is the way to go! This movie about going on a truly transforming journey with Reese Witherspoon in the leading role has a 90% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes. This must-see movie tells a story about a woman who goes into the wilderness as her life is spiraling out of control. She travels to the Pacific Crest Trail along the highest portion of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges in the United States, beating all odds to finish this challenging solo journey and learning a lot about herself in the process. Her emotional journey and the beautiful sights will be on your mind long after you see the closing credits roll over. “Wild offers a first-rate advertisement for the purifying abilities of the great outdoors,” writes IndieWire’s movie critic Eric Cohn. This beautifully-made, touching movie should be on your watch list if you love hiking!
127 Hours is an adrenaline-spiking movie that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It tells the story of Aron Ralston, masterfully played by film star James Franco, who becomes trapped by a boulder while canyoning in Blue John Canyon in southeastern Utah, US. It is based on Ralston’s bestselling memoir “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” about his harrowing experience and almost miraculous rescue. Why 127 hours? That’s the period that the movie covers – from the morning when he woke up to when he was put under anesthesia during his rescue. Ralston kept a video diary, documenting his ordeal that was later made into a Hollywood movie by director Danny Boyle. This captivating movie has 93% score on Rotten Tomatoes. Beautiful cinematography, gut-wrenching action and wonderful performance by Franco makes this move a must-see for all adrenaline seekers and canyoning enthusiasts.
Ready for a documentary that lets you accompany a group of hikers on a journey through the John Muir Trail which offers you the greatest mountain scenery in the United States? You will see high mountains, crystal clear lakes, beautiful canyons and cliffs, all while being entertained by the fun group of adventurers that set out to complete all 219 miles of the Californian trail after a snowy winter. This movie was crowd-funded on Kickstarter and later grew into a viewer favorite. As Ruthless Reviews puts it, “there is seldom a presentation that is so unpretentious and genuine that you just want to hug everyone involved”, and the movie itself is brilliantly edited, providing a lot of breath-taking views. This is one of the lesser-known films on this list but it is definitely worth watching.
This movie tells the true story of Robyn Davidson who leaves her life in the city behind to do an almost 2000-mile solo trek across the Australian desert, accompanied only by four unpredictable camels and her dog. During this life-changing journey of self-discovery she meets National Geographic photographer Rick Smolan. This movie offers incredibly beautiful cinematography and excellent performance by Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver who play leading roles. “Director John Curran has a sense for visual grandeur. The landscape is ablaze with heat, dust, flies and a staggering loneliness. When a snake slithers across Davidson as she sleeps, you can almost feel its cold against the skin,” writes Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s movie critic Cary Darling. This movie is packed with amazing sights and camera work, and food for thought as well.
In this powerful movie that explores the relationships we have with family and people we have met in our lives, a father goes to France to collect the remains of his son that died in the Pyrenees storm while walking the El Camino de Santiago trail. The roles are played by a real-life father/son duo – Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez who also directed the movie. The father decides to honour his son’s life by completing the historical pilgrimage trail by himself – it was something that his son never got to do. Luckily, the inexperienced hiker is not left to his own devices and he meets fellow adventurers that profoundly impact his life and gets him out of the comfortable bubble that he used to live in as a doctor in California. This movie has been favourably reviewed on Rotten Tomatoes both by critics and viewers, as it has a powerful emotional message and great cinematography to appease both of these groups. It is worth a watch!
Indie movie lovers will appreciate Southbounders, a critically-acclaimed movie about a woman who embarks on the 2170-mile long, challenging journey on the Appalachian Trail that stretches from Maine to Georgia. Looking to boost her confidence and reunite with nature, she puts on her hiking boots and starts the six-month journey. This movie will give you an authentic feel of what it is like to be out on the trail without the pretentiousness of Hollywood movies. It is a good movie to watch if you want to get a glimpse of the longest hiking-only footpath in the world that traverses over 14 states and attracts three million visitors a year with its scenic sights. For those who want to explore the Appalachian Trail themselves, read this article on 8 things to know before you start your journey on Popular Mechanics.
Do you enjoy suspense and being on the edge of your seat throughout the movie? Well, then this one is for you! This critically-acclaimed movie is loosely based on a Canadian couple’s harrowing ordeal of coming face to face with a hungry black bear – you can read more about the real-life events in this article. Blackfoot Trail, also known by the original title Backcountry, is a critic’s favourite on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie is beautifully-tense and masterfully acted, making the most of its humble budget to tell an impactful adventure horror story of a hike gone wrong.
After a plane crash, two strangers – played by Academy Award winners Kate Winslet and Idris Elba – end up on a remote snow-covered mountain with little hope of being rescued. When they decide to try and get out of there, they rely on each other for help and support despite the harsh conditions and many obstacles they encounter on their way. This transformative journey makes them realize the strengths they never even thought they had while living their comfortable lives in the city. This movie got mixed reviews due to the storyline being quite far-fetched and focusing too much on the romantic relationships of its characters. That aside, it is still a great watch if you enjoy well-executed action scenes and a bit of sentimentality.
If you are looking for a hiking movie with a fantasy twist, Ben Stiller’s directorial effort The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is the one for you! Day-dreamer Walter Mitty is a complex and exciting character whose vivid imagination often comes at odds with his real life as a negative assets manager at Life magazine. When he falls for a co-worker, played by Kristen Wiig, he decides to finally shake up his life and embark on a real adventure to find a missing negative that he believes should be used for the magazines final print issue. The result is an imaginative movie that takes you through Walter Mitty’s transformation with a healthy dose of light-hearted humour. The movie is based on James Thurber’s short story of the same name that has been previously adapted in a 1947 movie. Ben Stiller’s more modern version got mixed reviews from critics but most viewers loved it.