If you love the outdoors, you might be wondering if hiking is a good date idea.
With unpredictable weather, potentially challenging terrain, and varying fitness levels, it might seem like a bit of a risk.
But hiking can actually be a great way to spend time with someone and connect in a more unique setting.
In this post, we’ll give you our top tips on planning a hiking date and the most romantic hike ideas to help you plan the perfect trip.
Why is Hiking a Great Date Idea?
If you love the outdoors, hiking is a great date idea. If it’s your first date with someone, here’s why you should consider hiking.
Easy to talk
We’ve all had awkward first dates at a restaurant where there’s nothing to talk about. On a hike, you’ll never run out of conversation starters. From the stunning surroundings to finding out about each other, it’s much easier to keep the conversation flowing as you’re walking.
Hiking is a totally stress-free date idea because there is less pressure. You’re not trapped in a restaurant or staring at each other over coffee, so even if the conversation dies down, it won’t feel awkward.
Dates should be fun, romantic things. What better way to spend an afternoon than hiking along a stunning trail and exploring the outdoors? The views are breathtaking, and it’s an effortlessly fun experience.
Planning Your Hike
If you’re sold on hiking as a date idea, there is some planning that goes into it. Whether you’re heading into the forest in a state park or along the coast, you need to know what to wear and what to pack.
What to Wear
The most essential piece of gear on a hike is quality hiking boots. It doesn’t matter whether you’re going on a gentle trail or something more adventurous; no one wants blistered feet.
Make sure both you and your date have decent walking boots and quality socks to keep your feet safe and comfy. You probably won’t need microspikes or crampons, but decent walking boots are a must.
When it comes to clothes, the weather will dictate what you wear. Moisture-wicking materials are the best option to keep you cool and sweat-stain-free. And don’t forget a hat and sunglasses if it’s going to be sunny.
What to Pack
When it comes to your backpack, here are a few essentials you need to pack to go on a hike:
- A first-aid kit in case of emergencies (don’t forget blister plasters).
- Plenty of drinking water.
- A sleeping pad to sit on when you get to a pretty spot.
- A blanket to snuggle up in if it’s cold or late.
- A thermos for tea or coffee on cold days.
- A picnic with all your favorite treats.
The Best Trails for a Romantic Hike
There are some incredibly beautiful trails across the US that are perfect for a romantic hike.
Heart Lake, Anacortes, Washington
Just over an hour away from Seattle on a wooded island is Heart Lake. The trail there is open year-round and covers a three-mile loop around the heart-shaped lake – what could be more romantic?
There are nearby hills, cedar trees, and the occasional deer. It’s a popular spot with fishermen, but it’s relatively quiet, so perfect for a semi-secluded date spot.
Moonlit Hike, Washington County, Utah
About 40 miles west of Zion National Park is the Santa Clara River Reserve. The area has 6,500 acres of desert, and just outside Santa Clara is a massive tabletop plateau with panoramic views.
There’s a 2.5-mile hike up to the scenic lookout, which locals say is best done just before sunset for the best views. After sunset, the hike back down to your car is magical, too.
Palomarin Trail, Point Reyes, California
Just over the Golden Gate Bridge north of San Francisco, you’ll find the stunning spot of Marin County. Palomarin Trail is one of the most stunning trails in the county, with views of a cascading waterfall and a route right onto Wildcat Beach.
The first mile or so of the trail is a little tough and goes over a shore-side cliff, so this one is best for confident hikers. But the stunning views out of the Pacific are more than worth it.
Kalalau Trail, Kauai, Hawaii
For something a little more adventurous, you could try the Kalalau Trail in Kauai. It’s an 11-mile hike along the Na Pali coast that takes a full day. It’s rugged and remote, passing through five valleys and ending up on a private beach.
Kalalau Beach is surrounded by sheer cliffs and is usually totally quiet – the perfect spot for a romantic picnic.
Big Pine Lakes, California
The hike to Big Pine Lakes is arguably one of the best hikes in all of California. The beautiful views of the turquoise lakes are jaw-dropping, and there are plenty of secluded spots for a picnic.
The entire trail is around 13 miles and takes you around all the lakes. However, you can also do shorter trails to see just one or two of the lakes for a cute first date.
The Best Hiking Date Ideas
If you want to make your hiking date one to remember, here are some ideas to make it extra special.
Pack a picnic
On a normal hike, you might take some protein bars, dried snacks, and other functional options for refueling. But this short hike is a date, so get a little more creative with the food.
Figure out what your date likes to eat and pack a mini picnic to enjoy. Whether that’s cheese, dried fruit, some chocolate, or some sandwiches, it will make the day feel a little more romantic.
Make it a surprise
If you know for a fact your date is into hiking, turning the date into a surprise adventure can be really fun. Make sure they know to bring their hiking gear and boots, but don’t tell them exactly where you’re going – let the scenery be its own surprise.
Take a night hike
Hiking trails take on a whole different vibe at night. If you’re going somewhere fairly flat and familiar, opt for a moonlight hike. These are great in areas with lakes, or you could try out the Great Sand Dunes National Park for world-class star gazing!
Hike at sunrise
Speaking of spectacular views, why not hike to watch the sunrise? This one only works if your date is a morning person because you’ll be getting started way before dawn, but the views are totally worth it. Just make sure you check the time for the local sunrise so you don’t miss it.
Tips for a Perfect Hiking Date
If this is your first-ever hiking date, here are a few tips to make sure it’s perfect.
- Check the weather before you head out – nothing ruins a hiking date like torrential rain or unexpected storms.
- Don’t have a tight schedule – you’ll want plenty of time to stop and enjoy the scenery along the way.
- Plan your route – it’s easy to get lost even on well-known trails, so be sure to know your route ahead of time.
- Keep it simple – even if you’re an experienced hiker, the best dates are easy, mostly flat terrain.
- Keep hydrated – dehydration is a real danger, so take enough water for both of you and remind each other to keep drinking.
- Choose a familiar trail – a date should be a chance to connect, so don’t choose an unknown trail that’s going to be too hard for your date to take on.
- Consider the distance – five miles might not seem like much, but hikes are tough, make sure you can comfortably get back to your car.
- Tell someone your plans – someone should always know exactly where you’re going so they know where to look if something goes wrong.
- Bring your dog – if your date is an animal lover, it will give you something else to talk about and a furry companion to break any tension.
What to Avoid
Although hiking dates can be a lot of fun, they’re also very easy to get wrong. Here are some things to avoid.
If this is a first date with someone, avoid these red flags to make sure they feel comfortable going on a hike with you:
- Don’t suggest an unnecessarily remote location where there won’t be any people around. This might come off as a little creepy.
- Don’t brag about how hard the trail will be, it will probably put them off going.
- Don’t forget to tell them about safety precautions – they should have a friend who knows where they’re going, too.
It’s really tough hiking in the rain, so postpone your hike if the weather looks like it could be bad. It sucks having to change plans, but nothing will ruin a hiking date like bad weather.
If you’re both avid hikers and have plenty of experience, then take on a challenging route. But if your date doesn’t have much experience, it’s best to stick to easy trails. Remember, it’s a chance to connect; you don’t want to stress over rock faces, wading through rivers, or getting lost up mountains.
It might seem romantic to have a glass of wine on the top of a hill while you watch the sunset, but alcohol is incredibly dehydrating and will compromise your decision-making skills.
Save the drinks for when you’re back in civilization, and stick to water while you’re out on the hike.
Where Will You Go on Your Hiking Date?
If you’re trying to plan a unique date for you and your partner or you’re meeting up with someone for the first time, hiking is a great choice.
And you don’t have to travel across the country to find a suitable hiking trail. There are thousands of trails all over the states, so research local spots near you for a fun and unique date idea that they won’t forget.