Wikipedia lists 150+ long-distance trails in the United States of varying mileage and completion, most of which I have never heard of and will probably never set foot on. Still, it’s an impressive roster, with trails all over the States. Of course, the the Triple Crown of Hiking (the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail) get the most notoriety and are the most documented, that I’m aware of.
I’m a voracious reader, but, excepting a few articles, haven’t really found any books that do justice to the long hike experience the way videos do. Perhaps it’s a lack of imagination on my part, but the visuals far outweigh the written word, in my opinion. While there are many, many, many documentaries of varying length and professionalism, there are 5 (available on YouTube) of different trails that I would recommend to anyone interested (in alphabetical order to keep things fair):
The Walk Across Arizona Movie
Arizona Trail (Arizona): The Walk Across Arizona was made by a hiker who’s Pacific Crest Trail’s videos I really enjoyed. This video is a good showcase of his style while highlighting a lesser-known trail in a state many people probably ignore apart from the Grand Canyon.
Mile…Mile and a Half Movie Trailer
John Muir Trail (California) Mile…Mile and a Half is probably my favorite of all the long hike movies, with a unique mix of being long enough to be interesting, yet not so long that it ever bogs down. If this doesn’t make you want to hike the John Muir Trail with a pack of good friends, I’m not sure what would – great commentary and stunning scenery are a potent mix. Add in music by Opus Orange that is perfect for this documentary, sort of peppy and ruminative at the same time.
Lawless’ Long Trail Video
Long Trail (Vermont): Lawless’s Long Trail North is a pretty comprehensive look at the trail, people met, and places visited. Lawless’ 2014 northbound thru-hike of Vermont’s Long Trail is probably the most professional of the videos I watched about the Long Trail. It also has a pretty amazing soundtrack which really fits the feel of the film.
Only the Essential: Pacific Crest Trail Documentary
Pacific Crest Trail (California, Oregon, Washington): Apart from the John Muir trail, the Pacific Crest seems to have the most polished set of movies available, so it’s hard to pick a favorite. As It Happens: Pacific Crest Trail is a definite contender, but I have to go with Only the Essential: Pacific Crest Trail Documentary, simply because I connected with the people in this movie a bit more than the other. Can’t go wrong either way.
Clearly, this is a short list with so many worthwhile options left off. So let’s hear it, what movie would you add to this list?