Reader’s Choice: The Best Thru-Hiking Documentaries

Most of us can’t spend our entire lives thru-hiking. Oftentimes these grand adventures are mere six-month highlights in a world of 9-5 jobs and bumper-to-bumper traffic. However, there are ways to make the more mundane seasons of life more bearable while waiting for your next big adventure—one of which is thru-hiking documentaries.

In these glimpses into other people’s hikes, we get to experience our favorite trails from the comfort of our living rooms. They allow us to reminisce on the hardships and triumphs of our own journeys, while learning from another hiker’s adventures. As video equipment advances and becomes more lightweight, it is increasingly easy to find a documentary about thru-hiking any trail of your choosing. To help get you started, we asked our readers to vote for their favorite thru-hiking documentaries.

We sorted through over 100 responses and are excited to announce the top three, according to your votes:

#1 Dixie to Maine

Dixie is known for her YouTube channel “Homemade Wanderlust.” Throughout her 2015 AT thru-hike, she kept her followers in the loop with a series of 44 on-trail video updates. Upon returning, she combined these clips to create a documentary of her hike. The film is engaging because it gives an up-close, personal perspective into not only Dixie’s hike, but the triumphs and trials of daily life on the trail. New to the idea of thru-hiking? Not a problem. Dixie is down to earth and takes time to explain different aspects of her hike along the way, making this a great film to watch with your non-trail friends as well.

#2 Mile… Mile & A Half

One of the more highly produced thru-hiking documentaries, Mile… Mile & A Half joins a group of artists as they conquer the John Muir Trail. The cast consists of a photographer, videographer, painters, music composers, and a location sound artist, and is an intimate look at how each art form is influenced by the trail. Because of the artistic eye of the film’s main characters and producers, the cinematography is exceptionally done and watching the film creates an epic sense of wanderlust.

#3 Walking Home

Watch this father-son duo as they join the AT class of 2015 and complete their hike from Georgia to Maine. Along the way, they learn about the culture of the trail, their fellow hikers, and, most significantly, themselves. The film touches on lessons that stretch much further than just thru-hiking, and can be applied to aspects of life off trail as well. Thru-hiker or not, it’s hard to watch this film and not become inspired, making this great to watch with people of all backgrounds and interests.

Honorable Mention #1 As It Happens

Follow Andy and Ian as they leave comfortable city lives to chase dreams on the PCT. Their journey starts the same as many do—full of long hard days and sore nights. They soon begin to adjust to life on trail and continue making their way north toward the Sierra, who are experiencing a record snow year. The film is unique and stands out from the crowd with artistic and intimate camera work, intriguing photographs, and original music composed by Andy himself.

Honorable Mention #2 Do More With Less

Do More With Less is more than a documentary about thru-hiking the PCT. Instead, it is a conversation between countless hikers as they travel from Mexico to Canada. The film touches on subjects that focus on abandoning the “American dream” to live a life of adventure, and the advantages, as well as challenges, that come with that choice. The characters we meet and the conversations had throughout this 2,600-mile journey force you to reflect on your life and how you truly want to live. 

Special thanks to everyone who voted for their favorite film!

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Comments 3

  • Michael Cedric MacDougall : Jun 22nd

    Only the Essentials. I have wanted it a dozen times.

    • James Bradley : Feb 11th

      If you are looking for a free option, my friends and I have uploaded a documentary of our West highland Way trip in Scotland to YouTube. It is a feature length and can be found at We have the film submitted to several film festivals. We also have plans for another documentary to film in October or November of this year. By the way, Jason Fitzpatrick who directed Mile, Mile and a Half let us quote his review and seemed to enjoy it saying, “excellent work.”


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