Trails for everyone, forever

Home Go Outside Trail Smarts How To Plan a Romantic Hike

How To Plan a Romantic Hike

Whether you're on your first date or your 40th anniversary, Washington offers endless opportunities for romantic hikes and getaways.

by Susan Elderkin

Whether you're on your first date or your 40th anniversary, Washington offers endless opportunities for romantic hikes and getaways. 

It's fairly easy to imagine romance on the trail — watching a multi-hued sunset side-by-side on a ledge; gazing at mountain on a cloudless day; having an encounter with an elk or mountain goat on the trail. But these fantasies are usually unexpected moments almost impossible to plan.

So what do you for Valentine's Day — when you really want to impress a new sweetie, or when your twentieth wedding anniversary comes along and you want it to be memorable and romantic?

A charcuterie board and wine pairing at the summit.
A charcuterie board has never looked so good. Photo by Goldie Goerlich.

Thoughtful details make good memories

A romantic hike is at least as much about the little thoughtful details as it is about the destination, especially if the weather isn't perfect. Some things to keep in mind as you plan your outing:

    • Choose a destination that is easily reached, by car and by foot. Long drives and hikes are best left for two people who know each other well.
    • Bring a sleeping pad so that you have a warm, dry place to sit next to each other.
    • Pack a thermos of hot chocolate or a water bottle filled with homemade flavored water.
    • Bring something yummy that your sweetie wouldn't expect. Dolmas. Chocolate truffles. Fancy cheeses. Hummus & pita.
    • Enjoy the moment with your hiking partner, don't fear silence, and ask questions about them.
    • Let your partner set the pace and suggest breaks along the way. It's not about fitness — unless you are both into that.
    • Stash clean towels in the car for cleaning off your gear upon your return.
    • If things go well, suggest stopping for snacks or a meal on the way home.

Be creative and plan ahead

What if you know your partner well — maybe too well? A hike is a great way to say "I love you." By leaving your everyday lives at home, it can provide clarity and freshness for your relationship. And with a little creativity and forethought, you can certainly wow your partner. We offer a few romantic ideas:

Picnic on a Hike: Surprise your partner with wine, cheese, chocolate and flowers on a mountain top.

Romantic Getaway: Don't tell your partner where you are going, just what to pack. Take them to a secluded cabin in the woods — perhaps a Forest Service cabin or lookout — with trails nearby.

Memories with a View: On a hike, bring along something sentimental to both of you (love letters from when you first dated, old photos) and read them together at a nice viewpoint or around the fire.

Sunsets and Headlamps: Take a late-afternoon hike, with a picnic dinner to eat at a west-facing viewpoint. After a romantic sunset dinner, descend in the dark with headlamps lighting your way.

A heart among lichen.
Hearts can be found everywhere in nature, if you slow down long enough to look for them. Photo by Linh Huynh.

Hiking Surprise: Hide a guitar in your pack and play your sweetheart a love song at the summit (e.g. Eternal Flame by the Bangles) or write "I love you" in the sand.

Nature Poetry: It can be corny or incredibly romantic, depending upon what you or your partner are like. Consider a few poems to read on a mountain ledge.

Sensory Hike: Go slowly and engage your senses. Look up, feel the moss and bark, smell the dirt, taste edible berries and listen to birdsong.

Card Hikes: Before your hike, write some things on index cards that you'd like your partner to do along the way (remember a favorite time together, look at a big tree, think about their preferred post-hike drink, smile), then read them at intervals along the trail.

Camping or Backpacking: Want to see that amazing sunset? Your best bet will be if you take to the backcountry with your tent. Bonus points if you have a set of sleeping bags that zip together!