13 Thru-Hiking Films to Keep You Sane While Quarantining During the Coronavirus Outbreak

You’re doing the socially responsible thing, but you’re going crazy. Hopping between the couch and bed might be nice for an afternoon or one lazy weekend, but after a few days the stir-crazy creeps in. If you’re longing for adventure while doing your civic duty and socially distancing, these documentaries bring all the thru-hiking feels without actually being out there.

As we ride out this virus together, there’s enough hours to watch all of these documentaries and more. From all of us at The Trek, thank you for staying home and don’t forget to wash your hands.

Here’s our updated coverage on Coronavirus and how it relates to the trail community:

Mile, Mile and a Half


 Follow five friends as they march though the Sierra Nevada in a record snow year on the John Muir Trail. This group set out to capture the essence of both the natural beauty and human experience of thru-hiking. When they reach Mount Whitney,  they realize how much of their experience was about the journey, not the destination. Stream Mile, Mile and a Half on Amazon Prime.

Through the Great Southwest 

This documentary, produced and directed by popular hiking YouTuber Darwin, explores the history and social impact of the 800-mile Arizona Trail. The AZT spans the length of Arizona, from the Mexico border all the way to Utah. It traverses ecosystems ranging from the Sonoran Desert to high-elevation pine forests, and has had an impact on economy of trail towns and conservation of Arizona’s backcountry. Download the film here.

Keep up with the latest developments from the trail by subscribing to The Trek’s weekly newsletter.

As It Happens

Whether you’ve hiked the PCT already, have it on your bucket list, or simply appreciate the challenge and beauty of a thru-hike, this documentary captures why we hike. Nothing is planned and absolutely anything can happen while walking over 2,500 miles from Mexico to Canada. Watch now on YouTube.

Figure it Out on the Hayduke Trail

The remoteness of Southwestern Utah and Arizona cannot be captured with simply words. Follow Alex Maier as he struggles along the trail, paving his way through the less-traveled canyon country, often without a trail. In his journey, he might just learn a thing or two about how to incorporate lessons learned in the wilderness to everyday life. Stream Figure it Out on the Hayduke Trail now on Amazon Prime.

STRINGBEAN – Appalachian Trail FKT Documentary

What takes most hikers five to six months took ultrarunner Joe McConaughy 45 days. This short documentary follows Joe as he sets out to hike 50 miles a day, in order to break the FKT for the Appalachian Trail. It may not be a “normal” look at life on the trail, but it will undoubtedly leave you craving miles. Watch now on YouTube.

The Long Start to the Journey

It can be all too easy to look back on a thru-hike with only fond memories. This documentary will jog your memory of the exhilarating highs and excruciating lows of life out on the trail, while taking you along the stunning scenery of Appalachia. Available via digital stream / download on the film’s website.

Paul’s Boots

Paul passed away before he could complete his dream of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. Looking at his left behind hiking gear, his wife, M’Lynn, decided that there was some part of Paul that could make the trek: his boots. The entire AT hiking community rallied around Paul’s memory and carried his boots to Katahdin, inspiring us all to remember what’s most important. Watch now on Youtube.

The AT Experience

(trailer)

Join Andrew “Reptar” Forestell as he journeys from Georgia to Maine, gathering stories along the way. Through interviews with fellow hikers, rangers, trail angels, locals, and more, Andrew captures the essence of trail life and culture. Buy or rent from the movie’s website.

It Is The People | A Pacific Crest Trail Film

Expansive mountain ranges, lush green forests, and alpine lakes may be what draw us to the trail. But, as any thru-hiker can tell you, it’s the people who carry us through. Follow Elina’s journey along the PCT as she discovered some of the country’s most beautiful landscape, while forming inextricable bonds with fellow hikers. Watch now on YouTube.

Walking Home

As a father son duo set out to hike the Appalachian Trail together, they quickly realize they’re in for more than they bargained for. As they transform physically and mentally along the trail, these two Mainers find freedom in their long journey home. Watch now on YouTube.

A Sense of Direction

Alex Maier takes us through the less-traveled Pacific Northwest Trail as he navigates from Montana to Washington. From thorny bushwhacks to long highway walks, the PNT offers a challenge to even experienced thru-hikers, as Alex demonstrates in this first documentary about the trail. Watch now on Amazon Prime or YouTube.

Do More With Less

Each hiker has a unique, personal, and unmatchable experience as they set out on a long trail. This documentary weaves together the stories of 100 hikers on the PCT, as they abandon the “real world” and seek out adventure. Watch now on Vimeo.

Only the Essential: A Pacific Crest Trail Documentary

This award-winning documentary follows Casey Gannon and Colin Arisman along the Pacific Crest Trail in 2013. As these hikers march deeper into the wilderness and further away from what used to be “normal,” their priorities noticeably shift. Watch now on Youtube.

Featured image via Maggie Slepian

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 14

  • Bruce Williams : Mar 16th

    Thank you for posting this list. I’ve seen a few of these, but there’s several that I haven’t.

    Reply
  • Tammi aka Cray : Mar 16th

    From an aspiring 2020 thru hiker who is sitting home riding this out….thank you. Mostly for helping me to feel I’m making the right choice at the moment. I really needed some kind of affirmation because it was a REALLY HARD decision to make.

    Reply
  • Pat speed queen walked : Mar 16th

    Paul’s Boots forever

    Reply
  • Christopher P Hintz : Mar 17th

    Figure it out on the Hayduke is great! Check out Alex’s other film series on the North Country Trail in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula! The NCT is the longest National Scenic Trail and the UP is wild, rugged, and gorgrous!

    Reply
  • Kiwi BA : Mar 17th

    Great collection. One watched, and looks to be a long night for the remaining. Thanks for the compilation.

    Reply
  • Ryan : Mar 17th

    Walking Home is one of my favorites! I rewatch it every six months or so. Highly recommended.

    Reply
  • Ian : Mar 19th

    One that never gets mentioned and is my absolute favorite is Tell It On The Mountain. Such a well done documentary of the PCT and the people who hike it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=riCSlcfN07w

    Reply
  • Dennis A Turner : Mar 20th

    PERFECT!!!! Thanks so much. DAT

    Reply
  • Alonzo L. Asher : Mar 26th

    Hi there! It is really a situation of emergency all over the world. Staying at home for a long time is actually becoming difficult for everyone. I think this the time when we need to keep ourselves busy other than just watching news and taking stress and now I can check http://www.topbritishwriters.com/ to find out unique task. I think these documentaries would be a good option.

    Reply
  • KP : Mar 26th

    Walk, Still Walking, Walked and Flip Flopping from Scott “Squatch” Herriott will keep you entertained for a while. It’s available for rent on Amazon Video: they should make a season pass available so you can binge the whole enchilada.

    Reply
  • duytruongmmo2 : Mar 27th

    This post is so useful, I have looked all over the internet for it, thank you so much for sharing it. The article is so clear, without this post, I won’t be able to understand its use.fnaf world

    Reply
  • Bamboo Bob Sartini : Apr 3rd

    All fun films. I like seeing all the twenty-somethings do there thing. Anybody know a film done by a fifty+ person besines the silliness of Walk in the whatsit? Us older thru-hikers often have a different feeling about the trail in a ” last chance” sort of way.

    Reply

What Do You Think?