25 Hiking Horror Movies To Watch If You Love The Outdoors

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Summary

  • Hiking horror movies turn pleasant experiences into terrifying concepts, highlighting the fight for survival against elements, people, animals, or evil threats.
  • These movies vary in approach, from grounded survival stories to supernatural tales, and feature different locations like dense forests or barren deserts.
  • The best hiking horror movies effectively bring horror to the great outdoors, turning a safe pastime into a dangerous and deadly experience.

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The horror genre can often take pleasant experiences and turn them into terrifying concepts, such as with hiking horror movies. This subgenre has been a popular one and makes for some of the best horror movies set in the woods, as it finds characters out in the wilderness and in a fight for survival against the elements, other people, animals, or some unexplained evil threat. Horror movies with a hike-gone-wrong plot have been very effective, often mixing picturesque beauty with chilling terror. The wilderness can be an intimidating location for horror movies as civilization and safety seem so close but also out of reach.

The best hiking horror movies highlight all the different approaches that can be taken to the subgenre with entries that range from grounded stories of survival to supernatural tales of creatures and evil spirits. They can also differ in the types of locations used, from dense forests that make it easy for people to lose their way to barren deserts where there is no place to hide. These movies find the most effective ways to bring out horror in the great outdoors and turn hiking from what’s considered to be a safe pastime into a dangerous and deadly experience.

25 Significant Other (2022)

An Engaged Couple Encounter Terror On The Trail In The Pacific Northwest

Maika Monroe as Ruth in Significant Other

Significant Other

Release Date
October 7, 2022

Director
Dan Berk, Robert Olsen

Cast
Maika Monroe, Jake Lacy

Runtime
1hr24m

The lush splendor of the Pacific Northwest is the backdrop for Significant Other, a hiking horror about a young couple who embark on a backpacking trip through the wilderness only to find that they may not be alone. Soon to be married, their trek puts them to the ultimate test, and their peril uncovers secrets that will push the limits of trust and commitment.

A slick and sophisticated entry in the hiking horror movies genre, the beautiful and eerie cinematography showcasing the Pacific Northwest and engrossing performances by the leads make this a fully immersive experience. Engaging with it until the end makes the twist that much more enjoyable (and unsettling).

Significant Other is available to stream on Paramount+.

24 Coming Home In The Dark (2021)

New Zealand Thriller Proves Hiking Horror Isn’t Limited To The US

Two men in a car in Coming Home in the Dark

Coming Home in the Dark

Release Date
January 31, 2021

Director
James Ashcroft

Cast
Daniel Gillies, Erik Thomson, Miriama McDowell, Matthias Luafutu

Runtime
93 Minutes

Coming Home in the Dark is a terrifying investigation of the grim reality of a father who isn’t there for the people who matter most to him when their lives are in paramount danger. What’s supposed to be a holiday in the backcountry becomes a terrifying game of cat and mouse with a couple of villainous drifters, and as the screws tighten around the family’s fate, every personal choice — past and present — may make the difference between living and dying in this stylish and well-acted thriller from New Zealand. The 2018 hiking horror movie received critical praise as an impressive debut from director James Ashcroft.

Coming Home In The Dark is available to stream on Netflix.

23 A Perfect Getaway (2009)

Scenic Hawaii Becomes Deadly In This Whodunnit

A hike through gorgeous Hawaii sounds like the perfect way to celebrate their honeymoon, but when a couple of newlyweds get news of a pair of runaway murderers in the area, they have to reevaluate their choice to be so far removed from civilization. This hiking horror movie becomes a thrilling whodunnit as the small cast of characters, which includes Steve Zahn, Timothy Olyphant, and a pre-Thor role for Chris Hemsworth, all become suspects. A Perfect Getaway uses its lush and beautiful scenery, normally reserved for peace and relaxation, and manages to bring out as much dread as possible.

22 Cocaine Bear (2023)

Horror Comedy With An Unbelievably True Premise

Cocaine Bear

Release Date
February 24, 2023

Director
Elizabeth Banks

Cast
Ray Liotta, Alden Ehrenreich, Christian Convery, Scott Seiss, Margo Martindale, Keri Russell, Kahyun Kim, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Brooklynn Prince

Runtime
95 Minutes

Genres
Comedy, Thriller

While hiking horror movies can often be grim and hopeless stories, Cocaine Bear infuses a lot of comedy while still being a gory tale about terror on a stroll through nature. The movie is set in the 1970s and tells of the bloody misadventures that come about when a bag full of cocaine drops into a national forest and is found by a hungry bear.

Cocaine Bear never loses sight of its ridiculous plot as the drug-fuelled bear attacks helpless hikers and anyone else it finds. Though it doesn’t take itself seriously, its horror sequences are effective and the gruesomeness of the kills are never watered down. The movie was a surprise box office hit, grossing nearly $90 million (via Box Office Mojo).

Cocaine Bear is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

RELATED: Did The Real Cocaine Bear Actually Kill Anyone?

21 Gerry (2003)

Grounded Terror About A Death Valley Hike Gone Wrong

The two Gerrys look at the floor in Gerry

Gerry

Release Date
February 14, 2003

Director
Gus Van Sant

Cast
Matt Damon, Casey Affleck

Runtime
103 Minutes

When two friends named Gerry decide to hike Death Valley, one wrong turn leads to a desperate situation. Lost and disoriented, they have nothing to do but rehash the glory of their youth and crack inside jokes. Eventually, the gravity of their hopeless situation sinks in, and the desert wasteland begins to wreak havoc on their minds. Only one Gerry emerges from barren isolation, disoriented and confused, certain he has killed his friend.

What happened out there, among the shape-shifting mirages and the endless stretches of sand becomes a haunting question in this experimental arthouse movie by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Gus Van Sant. This hiking horror movie stands out as the isolation, rather than a monster or murderer, is the source of the terror.

Gerry is available to stream on Peacock.

20 Feral (2017)

A Solid Cast Pins Together This Textbook Hiking Horror

A bloodied victim in Feral (2017)

Feral (2017)

Release Date
December 21, 2017

Director
Mark Young

Cast
Scout Taylor-Compton, Olivia Luccardi, Lew Temple, Renee Olstead, Brock Kelly, Landry Allbright, George Finn

Runtime
90 Minutes

A group of six medical graduate students get together for a weekend hike in the woods but over time, each of them succumbs to a virus that causes them to morph into creatures driven by a need for blood. Feral feels slightly “paint-by-numbers” as far as kills, but pushes through stereotypes by capitalizing on the engaging cast. The acting and connections between the characters make up for the at-times-questionable script, which includes little logic about the virus or its origins. However, for those who relish the kind of grisly film set in the wilderness that kills off clueless young people, this hiking horror movie will amply satisfy.

Feral is available to stream on AMC+.

19 The Edge (1997)

Anthony Hopkins Leads This Nailbiting Alaskan Wilderness Survival Horror

Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin fighting a bear in The Edge

The Edge

Release Date
September 26, 1997

Director
Lee Tamahori

Cast
Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin, Elle MacPherson, Harold Perrineau

Runtime
117 Minutes

While the hiking in The Edge is purely involuntary, it makes for a great entry into this subgenre thanks to the picturesque setting and an intense survival story mixed with human drama. Anthony Hopkins stars as a billionaire accompanying his supermodel wife on a photoshoot in Alaska with a famed photographer (Alec Baldwin), and he believes the two are having an affair.

While scouting locations in the Alaskan wilderness, their small plane goes down and they begin a trek back to safety while being hunted by a ferocious bear. The melodramatic human elements work surprisingly well as these two distrustful men are forced to work together to survive, while Hopkins is especially effective as the older man who embraces his survival skills.

18 Eden Lake (2008)

Truly Unsettling Horror About The Perils Of Hiking In The British Countryside

Michael Fassbender in Eden Lake

Eden Lake

Release Date
September 12, 2008

Director
James Watkins

Cast
Kelly Reilly, Michael Fassbender, Jack O’Connell, Thomas Turgoose, Bronson Webb, Shaun Dooley

Runtime
91 Minutes

A soon-to-be-married couple heads to a lakeside retreat in the UK, but are set upon by a gang of roving youths in this disturbing horror movie vacation. The terrifying events unfold with savagery, with the couple trying to fend off the underaged killers and escape. A survival horror movie that could have devolved into a typical slasher movie, Eden Lake is far more realistic and progresses in a way that is much more natural.

The realism is buoyed by engaging performances from both the antagonists and protagonists, anchored by the chemistry between Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender in the lead roles. Smart characters and a devastating ending elevate Eden Lake, which won Best Horror at the Empire Awards in 2009.

17 The Ritual (2017)

The Hiking Horror That Turns Norse Mythology Into Nightmare Fuel

The Ritual

Release Date
October 13, 2017

Director
David Bruckner

Cast
Sam Troughton, Rafe Spall

Runtime
94minutes

Genres
Horror, Thriller

Four friends try to honor the memory of their deceased friend by hiking in the Scandinavian wilderness, but a shortcut leads them into an area of the forest occupied by a bizarre cult. The residents have been granted unusually long lives and freedom from sickness, provided they worship an ancient deity that stalks the trees. The men are either marked for worship or sacrifice and when they try to escape, they are hunted by the Creature. With strong visual effects, creature design, and dramatic tension, The Ritual is one of the decade’s most underrated hiking horror movies but is gradually finding more appreciation on streaming.

The Ritual is available to stream on Netflix.

RELATED: The Ritual’s Creature Jötunn & Norse Mythology Origins Explained

16 Deliverance (1972)

The Classic Hiking Horror Movie That Taught Audiences To Fear The Wilderness

deliverance

Release Date
July 30, 1972

Director
John Boorman

Cast
Jon Voight, burt reynolds, Ned Beatty

Runtime
1hr 49m

Deliverance is one of the most acclaimed entries in the hiking horror genre and sets a precedent for making theatergoers terrified of the woods. The story follows four friends from the city who get away to rural Georgia for a trip of hiking, canoeing, and hunting, but they soon realize they’re the prey when a bunch of backwoods sadists savagely attack them. From the iconic “Dueling Banjos” sequence to some hauntingly memorable lines, Deliverance is a true 1970s classic with bold storytelling elevating its pulpy feel. Nominated for Best Picture, the movie has a lasting impact and was named to the National Film Registry in 2008.

15 Backcountry (2014)

The Killer Bear Movie That Shows The Dangers Of Canada’s Wildlands

A wilderness scene from Backcountry

Partially based on the frightening true story involving Mark Jordan, who received the Star of Courage from Governor Michaëlle Jean of Ontario, Backcountry focuses on a man and his girlfriend whose hiking trip in the backcountry of Canada turns into a fight for survival when they are tracked by an enormous man-eating bear. It takes the plot of ’76’s Grizzly and turns up the terror, putting tension and surprise to good use. The slow-burn movie relies on atmospheric tension and relatable characters before turning into a brutal survival story with some shocking developments.

Backcountry is available to stream on AMC+ and Hulu.

14 Willow Creek (2013)

Jim and Kelly terrified in their tent in Willow Creek

The found-footage subgenre is a particularly fitting format to tell stories of hiking horror movies as there is a sense that the audience is stuck in this situation with the characters. From the mind of Bobcat Goldthwait comes a story about a couple trying to make a controversial documentary about the fabled Bigfoot. The plot begins a little slowly, with the man and woman enjoying long nature walks and stunning vistas as they track down clues to Bigfoot’s whereabouts. However, the movie also features some harrowing and effective horror scenes that make great use of the simple approach to the isolated setting.

Willow Creek is available to stream on Peacock.

13 The Descent (2005)

Hiking And Caving Are A Deadly Combo In This 21st Century Classic

The Descent

Release Date
August 4, 2006

Director
Neil Marshall

Cast
Shauna Macdonald, Saskia Mulder, Alex Reid, Natalie Mendoza, MyAnna Buring, Nora-Jane Noone

Runtime
99 minutes

Genres
Horror, Adventure, Thriller

The Descent presents one of the most exciting and terrifying horror movies of the 21st century with a mix of a monster movie and an intense survival story. When six women decide to go cave-diving to help one of their companions get over tragedy, they experience a new level of trauma when they find there are inhuman things dwelling in the darkness.

The characters help set a strong foundation for the movie that gradually builds to the first unforgettable jump scare with the memorable monsters. The rest of the caving and hiking horror movie is a bloody and wild thrill ride that earned rankings on several “Top 10 of the Year” lists with its reputation continuing to be cemented as a modern horror classic.

The Descent is available to stream on Max.

12 Wolf Creek (2005)

The Outback Makes For A Unique Hiking Horror Movie

Mick holding a hunting knife in Wolf Creek

Wolf Creek

Release Date
December 25, 2005

Director
Greg Mclean

Cast
Kestie Morassi, Cassandra Magrath, Andy McPhee, John Jarratt, Nathan Phillips

Runtime
99 minutes

Genres
Horror, Thriller

This Australian horror movie begins at Wolf Creek National Park, where three friends are exploring the Australian Outback. Amid their hiking adventure, they lose their way, requiring the assistance of a local bushman named Mick Taylor. Taylor starts friendly and helpful at first, but soon reveals his true sadistic nature which has earned him a reputation as one of the most terrifying horror movie villains of all time.

Wolf Creek is based on the real killing perpetrated by Ivan Milat that took place outside of Sydney in the ’90s. It is an unrelenting and bleak hiking horror movie that is hard to watch but also features the creation of a truly unforgettable horror figure.

11 Preservation (2014)

Paranoia And Mistrust Abound On A Tense And Deadly Hike

Wit, Mike, and Sean exploring some boulders in Preservation

A young woman named Wit goes on a wilderness hunting trip with her husband and his brother, intent on helping her failing marriage and her brother-in-law’s PTSD. They head towards a game preserve which they find out is closed for the season, but they proceed undeterred anyway, deep into the forest’s interior. As the rocky relationships of the trio simmer to the surface, they’re only aggravated by an overnight that results in all of their gear being stolen.

Each is marked with a black “X” and they become prey of a group of mysterious hunters who begin to close in as each person turns on the other. The strong cast and effective scenery add to the impact of the simple story. The building tension and dread allow the audience to feel the exhaustion of these desperate characters, and their paranoia makes this one of the best hiking horror movies that doesn’t rely on supernatural elements.

10 Devil’s Pass (2013)

A body frozen in the snow in Devil's Pass

Devil’s Pass

Release Date
February 28, 2013

Director
Renny Harlin

Cast
Holly Goss, Matt Stokoe, Luke Albright

Runtime
1hr 40m

Based on the 1959 film The Dyatlov Pass Incident, this found-footage horror film chronicles the mysterious disappearance of several U.S. college students who attempted to trace the route of Russian hikers who also never returned from their skiing expedition in the Ural Mountains. Devil’s Pass proposes a tenuous link between the American military conspiracy the Philadelphia Experiment and the Dyatlov deaths, indicating there was something more than natural causes implicated in the demise of the skiers. This moody, atmospheric film is a worthy update of the original, providing modern hiking horror movies’ techniques to a stalwart premise.

Devil’s Pass is available to stream on AMC+.

9 A Lonely Place To Die (2011)

Military Veterans Take On War Criminals In A Nailbiting Horror Movie

Alison hugging Anna in front of a fallen log in A Lonely Place To Die

A Lonely Place To Die

Release Date
September 9, 2011

Director
Julian Gilbey

Cast
Melissa George, Ed Speleers, Sean Harris, Alec Newman

Runtime
99 Minutes

A hiking trip to the Scottish Highlands turns perilous for five mountaineers when they discover a young Serbian girl imprisoned in a chamber in the middle of the wilderness. They must discover a way to free her as well as get her to safety while avoiding her kidnappers. Full of pulse-pounding action, A Lonely Place to Die has some solid special effects, and the unique narrative of pitting five military veterans against Balkan war criminals creates an action-oriented vibe to the intense horror elements. The cat-and-mouse game they play makes for an edge-of-the-seat experience.

A Lonely Place To Die is available to stream on AMC+.

8 Killing Ground (2016)

Brutal Realism And Child Endangerment Make For A Truly Unsettling Experience

Sam running with an abandoned infant through the outback in Killing Ground

When a young couple decides to spend New Year’s Eve camping in the Australian Outback, they get a friendly tip from a local to pitch their tent near a romantic waterfall. When they arrive at the site, they spot an abandoned campsite with no sign of its occupants. After some fleeting bliss, they encounter a traumatized toddler covered in blood.

The boy was the only surviving member of the family who camped at the site days before, and the couple must keep him safe from the murderers who have returned to finish the job. The Australian hiking horror movie is a grim and intense experience that may be too much for some viewers, but the brutal realism will appeal to those who want to test the limits of their comfort zone.

Killing Ground is available to stream on AMC+.

7 The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The Iconic Found Footage Hiking Horror Movie Remains One Of The Best

The Blair Witch Project

Release Date
July 30, 1999

Director
Eduardo Sánchez, Daniel Myrick

Cast
Joshua Leonard, Michael C. Williams, Heather Donahue

Runtime
81 minutes

Genres
Horror, Mystery

It is hard to think about horror movies about hiking trips gone wrong without The Blair Witch Project coming to mind. Seen as one of the most influential found-footage movies of all time, the brilliant and effective marketing campaign suggested this was the real document of a group of documentary filmmakers who ventured into a dense forest to explore a local legend. The audience is right alongside these characters as they get lost and then taunted by some unseen presence stalking them. There are many iconic moments in the movie, from Heather’s tearful apology to the camera to the impactful ending of The Blair With Project.

The Blair Witch Project is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

RELATED: The Blair Witch Project’s Filming Conditions Were Scarier Than The Actual Movie

6 The Descent Part 2 (2009)

The Hiking Horror Sequel Raises The Fear Factor

Sarah covered in blood in The Descent Part 2

The Descent Part 2

Release Date
December 9, 2009

Director
Jon Harris

Cast
Shauna Macdonald

Runtime
94minutes

Genres
Horror, Thriller

As if spelunking with carnivorous cave creatures wasn’t already enough of a nightmare, Sarah returns to the site of the excursion that ended with all of her companions dead in The Descent Part 2. With limited memory of what happened, she’s joined by a sheriff and several specialists on an expedition to search for survivors. The Descent 2 may not change the formula much from the original, but like most hiking horror movies, the narrative focuses more on the reactions and interactions of its characters in increasingly perilous situations, making for an even more terrifying experience.

The Descent Part 2 is available to stream on Max.