Making the Perfect Playlist for Your Thru-Hike

T-minus: 65 days

As much as I want to connect with nature and enjoy the silence that can be found deep in the woods during my hike, I know that there will be a few times when I am going to need a little emotional support to finish out the day strong.

This is where my ultimate thru-hike playlist comes in. Music is a big part of my day-to-day life: it helps keep me motivated, and can totally switch my mood in just a matter of minutes. I will be utilizing this on my hike during tough climbs, rainy days, or times when I am a little homesick.

I started work on my playlist a few weeks ago, and have done a lot of decision making when narrowing down just which songs make the cut. Admittedly, it is a collection of some of the strangest music you may ever hear. It has everything from show tunes to rap, and alternative to country. However, I believe it is a perfect mix of songs that will help me reach Katadhin.

You can view/ follow my playlist on Spotify, and I promise that I will be adding new songs to it until the day I leave. Until then, I have compiled the list of guidelines that I used when making my playlist, so that you can have the perfect collection of music for your next thru-hike:

1. Avoid songs that remind you of home

To me, almost every song has a memory attached to it, however I chose to not add songs which I knew brought up certain memories which would make me more homesick than I would like. Example: if you live in Alabama, then the song “Sweet Home Alabama” may not be the best choice…

2. Remember that hiking is a workout

You know all those songs you listen to at the gym to get pumped up? Add them to the playlist. Hiking 6 PUDS (pointless ups & downs) in a row is going to need you to be as hyped up as possible.

3. Don’t be afraid of the guilty pleasures

We all know you have become a Belieber these past couple months, and no one is going to judge you on the trail for having Justin’s newest album on repeat all day (okay a few people may judge, but hike your own hike!)

4. Now is your time to dance on top of a mountain. Embrace it.

I don’t know about you, but it is on my bucket list to dance barefoot on the top of a mountain with a sweeping vista spread out in front of me. This is your chance to cross it off the list, so be sure to add the perfect dance song for this very special occasion.

5. Sing alongs can even brighten day 6 of non-stop rain

Day 6 of rain and mud. Spirits are low. But suddenly “Sweet Caroline”, “Don’t Stop Believin”, and “Living On A Prayer” come on in a row and the trail has transformed into the best throwback jam session of all time. You are now ready for the next 25 miles ahead of you.


(With this all being said, it is important to note trail etiquette when it comes to music. If your music is disrupting someone else’s encounter with nature, then turn the volume down or put it away. It is important to let everyone enjoy nature the way they see fit, and to not force your noise upon anyone else!)

What songs do you think I should add to my playlist? Let me know in the comments below!

Happy Hiking!

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Comments 3

  • Mark Whitcombe : Mar 7th

    Though I’m a singer and a player, I am going to be hiking silently, mostly because I do not want to be distracted from my immersion into the natural world along the trail.
    If — and I’m bringing a pair of earphones along with my iPhone — I do at times fall into music, I think I’ll rely of my (nearly constant availability of) data connection to actually pull down from the Cloud the specific music I feel like at the moment. It could be a long-form work of the baroque genre, or an album of the traditional music I also enjoy. But I’ll let my mood at the time decide what I want or need, rather than some pre-determined choice.
    More perhaps to the point, I will be taking pre-transcribed words of songs that I wish to learn to sing. If music is what I require, I will endeavour to make my own music as I make my own way along the trail.
    (I realize the logical extension of this is that I should be composing my own music as I hike … That’s unfortunately not likely to happen …)

  • Michael Goldman : Mar 7th

    One thing I have heard is that animals (including bears) will avoid you if you’re listening to music. But I too plan on having some musical accompaniment on the trail. I think silly songs are also a good thing to have to uplift you if you’re in a bad mood. I actually hum “Hello Muddah, Hello Fuddah” when the going has gotten rough on my practice hikes.

  • ketomob comic : Jun 21st

    Making the Perfect Playlist for Your Thru-Hike is such a
    great post about ‬ #appalachiantrail.


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