21 Best Hiking Songs to Inspire, Console, and Keep You Going!

Whether you're seeking music for the next mountain pass or to sing around a campfire, our list of favorite hiking songs has you covered on the trail!

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Written by: | Reviewed by: Kieran James Cunningham
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Not everyone has a hiking playlist, and there isn’t a single ‘best hiking song.’ However, listening to music when hitting the trail is guaranteed to lift your spirits, bring you closer to other hikers, or help you tackle the next uphill slog.

Keep in mind, not everyone enjoys listening to music while out on their wanders in the wild. If you’re playing your hiking music on a Bluetooth speaker, use one earbud or headphones if you come across others to avoid disturbing someone else’s hike. (Of course, if they join you, then keep the tunes playing!)

Thanks to the convenience of apps like Apple Music and Spotify, you can now create your playlist before your next adventure. So, if you want to listen to music at the top of that mountain, your playlist is downloaded and ready to go!

Whether your playlist needs groovy bass lines, epic guitar solos for a summit push, or slow ballads to contemplate life in the outdoors, we’ve selected the best songs for you. We also discuss whether playing music when hiking is a deterrent to bears or not.

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1. Fools Gold, The Stone Roses

Released on their self-titled record in 1989, and winner of the NME Single of the Year, ‘Fools Gold’ by The Stone Roses is ominous, but the drum beat is sure to keep you putting one foot in front of the other. Fifteen days. Heavy pack. All alone. Does this all sound familiar?

Hikers walking in snow in snowshoeing boots
Fools Gold’s drum beat is powerful enough to keep those feet working in all weather!

2. I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles), The Proclaimers

‘I’m Gonna Be’ by The Proclaimers is no doubt an absolute classic – but, 500 miles is quite a long way! Although the Scottish group’s song was well received in 1987, it blew up after serving as the soundtrack to Benny & Joon (1993). It has since been the tune for many walking and running events, and is in more than twenty films!

3. Walk On The Wild Side, Lou Reed

‘Walk On The Wild Side’ by Lou Reed has an instantly recognizable opening riff. Whether you first heard it in a movie, playing in a record shop, or from a friend, it strikes a chord. Although this song explores New York’s 1960s countercultures rather than explicitly talking about hiking, its uplifting beat will set a rhythmic, contemplative tone to any hike.

4. I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor

‘I Will Survive’ by Gloria Gaynor is sorrowful, yet hopeful and resilient. Rain-soaked, scared, petrified, or simply need to tackle that steep incline? Put this tune on – it’s a must for any hiking playlist. Like any hike, it sways. You might dance up the mountain, or stop and cry. But, if all goes well, you will survive!

woman hiker in rain gear climbing grassy hill
Let Gloria help you on that rainy, uphill slog!

5. Take Me Home Country Roads, John Denver

‘Take Me Home Country Roads’ by John Denver is an American classic! Whether at a bar, karaoke, around camp, or in a movie this is one of our favorite songs and belongs on any playlist. We like to play it after a great day on the trails, at dusk with a cool breeze blowing and mountain views all around.

6. Only Happy When It Rains, Garbage

‘Only Happy When It Rains’ by Garbage is 90s rock at its finest, with power chords, reverb, and riffs it will surely evoke nostalgic feelings. How many people can claim they’re only happy when it rains? Not many, but surely, thru-hikers are indifferent, for sometimes, the best things on the trail happen in the rain.

7. Here Comes the Sun, The Beatles

‘Here Comes the Sun’ by The Beatles is a classic hiking song evoking that feeling of a fresh start.  Whether it’s on the first spring hike of the year or after a heavy rainfall, when the clouds part and the great outdoors are glistening . . . well, the sun is ‘alright’, isn’t it?

Man hiking in mountains with sun shining on him
The perfect lilt when the sun is smiling on the trail.

8. The Long and Winding Road, The Beatles

‘The Long and Winding Road’ is another Beatles classic. Released on Let it Be (1970), which won the NME for British Album of the Year, this song is a sonic daydream with slow piano chords backed by a gentle brass section, a tune we’ve all thrown onto our own playlists!

9. Old Pine, Ben Howard

‘Old Pine’ by the British musician Ben Howard is both youthful and melancholic. The open guitar tuning, chords, and finger-picking riffs will transport you to the fireside, nestled in your warm sleeping bag beneath the stars. These trail moments are the best of your life, but they are fleeting, passing with time, and will one day only be memories.

10. Rise, Eddie Vedder

‘Rise’ by Eddie Vedder was written for the film Into the Wild and is now part of one of the most iconic movie soundtracks. ‘Rise’ is an unconventional tune for the Pearl Jam frontman. A mandolin replaces the electric guitar, but Vedder’s voice is as powerful as ever. Hitchhiking, resilience, solitude, and solidarity – this is one of our favorite songs, and has long been on our hiking playlist.

man putting his earphones on
Always one of our favorites!

11. The Long Road, Eddie Vedder and Neil Young

‘The Long Road’ by Eddie Vedder and Neil Young reflects the nature of the trail – slow, desolate, upbeat, beatdown. These artists are recognized for their songs of the country and the open road, but in this collaboration for America: A Tribute to Heroes, following the 11 September 2001 attacks, their stripped-back performance reveals another part of the landscape.

12. You’ll Never Walk Alone, Gerry & the Pacemakers

‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ by Gerry and The Pacemakers may be the anthem for the UK’s Liverpool and Celtic soccer teams, but it is also hiking music at its finest. Whether you’re hiking solo or with other hikers, this slow bop with sing-aloud lyrics will make sure you never feel alone on the trail.

13. I Walk the Line, Johnny Cash

‘I Walk The Line’ by Johnny Cash is an American classic for your hiking playlist. The steady rhythmic bass line and train-like drum beat will keep you going, on the line or on the trail.

passing by the bridge
Or even on a bridge!

14. Stairway to Heaven, Led Zeppelin

‘Stairway To Heaven’ by Led Zeppelin is up there with the greatest rock songs. Released in 1971, this 8-minute song is a physical, sonic, and spiritual journey. It starts slow, builds, the drums kick in, the high-hat, then Page’s iconic guitar solo, followed by Plant’s vocals. This song is perfect for any hiking experience.

15. Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell is brimming with love metaphors inspired by nature. High mountains, wide rivers, low valleys, wind, and rain – nature is our language, especially if you love hiking! You’ll be dancing and strutting along hiking trails with this playing in your ears.

16. Voodoo Child, Jimi Hendrix

‘Voodoo Child’ by Jimi Hendrix can be exactly what you need to get up that mountain – or, like Hendrix, to cut it down. Released in 1970, Hendrix’s guitar playing has an unrivaled attitude. Aggressive, deliberate, messy, fast, and gentle, this is music to listen to when you’ve got to power through a challenging section. 

hiker with earphones on
Tough part of the trail? Play this aggressive beat and see how it can power you up!

17. Born To Be Wild, Steppenwolf

‘Born To Be Wild’ by Steppenwolf may be the soundtrack to Easy Rider, evoking images of an empty highway, hot sun, cold breeze, and the open desert – but it’s much more than that. This song is a feeling: the bass line has a groove, the chords are uplifting, and the overall mood? Gusto. 

18. Wild Mountain Thyme, The Corries

‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ by The Corries is a traditional Scottish Highlands folk song that tells the story of a landscape, its people, and its culture. Blooming heather, the raging sea, clear lochs, empty straths and glens – this is one of the best hiking songs for the trail, and most certainly, a beautiful campfire sing-along.

19. Don’t Stop Me Now, Queen

‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen is a firm favorite, from the progressive piano notes to the oscillating solo and backup vocals. If other hikers slow you down or there’s an unappealing uphill slope, listening to this song will get you in the zone.

steep hike
The perfect soundtrack for an uphill hike.

20. Like a Rolling Stone, Bob Dylan

‘Like a Rolling Stone’ by Bob Dylan is a departure from his acoustic tunes but undoubtedly still remains one of the greatest lyricists of our era. This organ and electric song is uplifting, meditative, and, as always, asks more questions than it answers.

21. Up Around The Bend, Creedence Clearwater Revival

‘Up Around The Bend’ by Creedence Clearwater Revival opens with one of the most recognizable riffs in American rock, and the lyrics move as swiftly as the wind. If you listen to music while hiking and wonder what’s coming around the next bend, this song couldn’t fit the bill better.

Can Playing Songs While Hiking Help Deter Bears?

The effectiveness of playing music to deter bears is debated among experts, with no scientific evidence confirming its reliability. Some believe that loud noises, including music, might make bears more aware of human presence and potentially prompt them to avoid the area.

However, some research suggests bears may actually be curious about music and investigate its source. Bears are highly intelligent and adaptable animals, and their behavior can vary based on factors such as food availability, environmental conditions, and prior experience with humans. 

Additionally, habituated bears accustomed to human presence are less likely to be deterred by loud noises or music. To effectively deter bears, it is important to follow proper bear safety protocols, such as securing food and garbage, making noise while hiking, and being aware of bear behavior in the area.

What’s Your Favorite Hiking Song?

Not everyone wants to listen to music on the trail, but music will always surface in your mind. Whether it’s a landscape, people you meet, or simply a sound you hear, there is a song for every mood, sunrise, and mountain pass. These 21 songs for your hiking playlist are bound to motivate you to keep putting one boot in front of the other!

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Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Alex Large Avatar

Alexandre Marceau is a French-Canadian writer, editor and keen mountaineer based in Edinburgh, UK.

During his undergrad in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, at the confluence of the Saint-François and Massawippi Rivers, he discovered that literary timelines, much like veins, carry the timeless stories that shape the regional identities of place. As a result, in 2019, he co-founded yolk, a Canadian literary journal for which he serves as Fiction Editor.

Alexandre’s work has appeared in various journals, newspapers and websites in Canada and Scotland, and he is the Creatives Editor for the Scottish Mountaineering Press. His time is divided between climbing, trail-running, snowboarding and writing.

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