The 10 Best Appalachian Trail Movies

southboundersIf you’re getting ready to hike the AT, it’s a great idea to watch a few of the 10 best Appalachian Trail movies beforehand so you have a better idea of what to expect.

If you’re a thru-hiker, watching AT movies is one way to bring back great memories.

So, for all of you interested in the Appalachian Trail, here are 10 of the very best AT movies.

The movies are only very loosely ranked (#1 is not necessarily better than #10), but all are worth watching.

1) Appalachian Impressions

This is the movie I recommend to people before any other. Appalachian Impressions really aims to be a comprehensive explanation of what the AT is, explaining the trail’s history, culture and how to hike it. You’ll see covers all fourteen states, the changing of the seasons, footwear, food, shelters, volunteer trail crews, and learn about the trail’s ethics.

2) TREK – A Journey on the Appalachian Trail

TREK tells the story of four guys on a thru-hike. The moves focuses on the hikers more than the trail itself. There are lots of interviews with hikers and you really get a feeling what it’s like to spend 6 months on trail.

  • Type of movie: Documentary
  • Where to watch: TREK is available on Amazon
  • Length: 90 mins
  • Video: Here’s a scene from TREK:

3) 2000 Miles to Maine

This movie focuses on one thru-hiker called Chad, but also features interviews with a number of other hikers. They filmed in 2002, which was a really wet year. You get to hear a lot of the tribulations involved in a thru-hike.

4) Southbounders

Southbounders is a drama based around a very independent-minded young woman called Olivia who attempts a thru-hike. The story focuses on the trail but includes lots of flashbacks to Olivia’s past. The filmmakers worked on a very low budget, but it the movie looks great. The movie’s name comes from the fact that Olivia is hiking south, an unusual and far more difficult choice than hiking north.

5) Walking with Freedom

Walking with Freedom focused on just one hiker: Michael. Whereas some of the other movies on this list focus on multiple hikers and their interactions, this film is mostly one man and the wildlife around him, although there are scenes at Trail Days and the Half-Gallon Challenge.

6) Beauty Beneath the Dirt

Beauty Beneath the Dirt follows the story of a lawyer, an Ivy League graduate, and a city chick. This movie does focus on the emotions of the trail. You can get a pretty good impression of this movie from watching the second half of the trailer below.

  • Type of movie: Documentary
  • IMDB page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2076157/
  • Length: 70 mins
  • Where to watch: You can watch the movie on YouTube for $1.99
  • Video: Here’s the trailer for Beauty Beneath the Dirt:

7) Road Less Traveled

Eight hikers set out to walk the entire 2,180-mile Appalachian Trail through 14 states from Georgia to Maine uninterrupted in one year. The film records their experiences along the trail as each has the adventure of a lifetime.

8, 9 and 10) PBS Documentaries

PBS has a series of shorter documentaries that are worth 30 minutes of your time:

More movies coming soon!

This list will change during 2014 because some of the most famous Appalachian Trail movies are those that haven’t been released yet:

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  • Shepherd

    Seriously. Southbounders makes this list. The number of factual errors that didn’t need to be in there are huge. This film is actually hilarious to watch with a bunch of other thru/long term section hikers.

    • http://steveburge.com/ steve

      Thanks Shepherd. That was the number one piece of feedback we got … “take Southbounders off this list!”

      I haven’t seen Flip Flop Flippin before but I’ll grab a copy: http://www.squatchfilms.com/flip-flop-flippin-1–2.html

      • shepherd

        Don’t get me wrong. i had a great time watching it. But that was because a group of 14 spent the entire film laughing at it.

        I am biased as i hiked with some of the people on flip flop flippin.

  • Shepherd

    Edit: Flip Flop Flippin is a good study of the characters on the trail.