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How to Plan the Ultimate Hiking Date (10 Romantic Tips)

If you’re looking to add a dash of adventure to your love life, then start by planning the ultimate hiking date. Hiking makes a great date idea because it’s a low cost activity that also provides an opportunity to connect with your partner while being active outdoors. Win, win, win!

My husband and I actually went hiking together on our first date. We met at a local restaurant for brunch beforehand (safety first, ladies), and then hit a nearby trail. It was a great way to talk and get to know each other. Almost 5 years later, we still go on regular hiking dates! 

This guide shares my top tips for planning the ultimate hiking date, from choosing the right trail, to thoughtful touches to make your date special. Whether you’re trying to plan a romantic Valentine’s Day adventure, or are looking for something new to do with your significant other, going for a hike is a perfect date idea!

A couple at the beginning of a backpacking trip in front of the Maroon Bells in Colorado.

Why You and Your Partner Should Go On a Hiking Date

Wondering why you should plan a hiking date? Here are just a few reasons why you and your partner should begin implementing regular hiking dates into your routine:

  • Hiking is often free or very inexpensive, especially if you already own hiking gear.
  • Hiking in an intimate activity that provides an opportunity to connect with your partner. You may encounter challenges or obstacles on your hike that you have to work together to overcome, which can help bring you closer together and strengthen problem solving skills.
  • Hiking gets your body moving. It’s an excellent way to stay active at any age.
  • Hiking gives you an opportunity to learn more about the plants and wildlife in your local environment.
  • Hiking is a great activity to break the ice on first dates. It gives you an opportunity to move and look around, so you’re not stuck awkwardly staring at each other trying to find something to talk about. Aim for shorter trails with other people around, especially if you’re meeting someone for the first time.

Backpacking honeymoon in Olympic National Park.

How to Plan the Ultimate Hiking Date

These are my top 10 hiking date tips to help you plan the perfect romantic adventure. These tips go above and beyond basic hiking tips like what to pack, how to stay safe on the trail, and best practices for recreating responsibly. If you’re new to hiking and need to learn the basics, check out this post about how to start hiking.

Keep in mind these are just hiking date ideas. Your date can look however you want it to! It can be a short walk after dinner. It can be a morning exploring a local national forest. Or it can be a weekend getaway in a nearby mountain town. What’s important is that you and your honey are connecting with nature and each other! 

1. Research Romantic & Scenic Hiking Trails

A proper hiking date calls for a trail with an epic destination. Whether you decide to hike to an alpine lake, waterfall, mountain summit, or funky geologic formation, choosing a trail that offers a scenic destination provides a romantic backdrop.

Different times of year can also make a trail feel more (or less) romantic. A single trail in the woods is going to give off a totally different vibe during wildflower season, peak fall foliage, and after a dusting of snow. Remember to consider the season and terrain when choosing a hiking trail for your date.

Couple kissing on a hiking date.

2. Look For a Moderate Trail

When choosing a trail for your hiking date, aim for something moderate. Easy trails tend to be the most heavily trafficked and can attract families with young children. While seeing kids getting outdoors is wonderful, you probably don’t want a bunch of them around on a date. Avoiding easy hiking trails is one way to help prevent that.

You also want to avoid difficult hiking trails when planning your date, especially if you’re beginner hikers (unless you’re specifically looking to show off your hiking skills, of course!). Chances are a difficult trail is going to make you sweat a lot, which probably isn’t the vibe you’re going for. Choosing a moderate trail allows you to still get in a solid hike without overexerting yourself!

Couples taking a selfie on a hiking date.

3. Plan Your Hiking Date in a Vacation Destination

Take your hiking date up a notch by turning it from a day trip to a romantic weekend getaway. This is a great option for folks who live close to popular, outdoorsy vacation destinations.

For example, if you live in Denver, you can plan a weekend hiking getaway in a place like Breckenridge, Vail, Telluride, or Aspen. Splurging on a nice hotel or cabin at your destination where you can wash up after your hike (preferably together in a clawfoot tub), can also amp up the romance. This will definitely make your hiking date more expensive, but who doesn’t deserve a little romantic getaway?

4. Time Your Hike Right

To make the most out of your hiking date, you need to time the hike right. Keep in mind that trails tend to be the most crowded during the late morning and early afternoon. Planning a sunset hiking date will help avoid crowds, while also providing dreamy light. Be sure to carry headlamps for the hike out in the dark!

You can also plan your hiking date for sunrise, if you’re up for an early start. It may be tough getting out of bed while it’s still dark, but getting to watch the sun slowly rise over the horizon with your honey will be totally worth it. Make sure to pack a portable camp stove to enjoy a hot cup of coffee or hot chocolate on your hike.

A cup of coffee in front of Delicate Arch in the snow.
Highly recommend a sunrise hike to Delicate Arch in the snow.

5. Plan Your Hiking Date During Nice Weather

One of the biggest keys to a successful hiking date is planning it during nice weather. Of course, a little rain doesn’t have to interrupt your hike, but when it comes to an enjoyable date, inclement weather can put a damper on the festivities. 

Depending on where you live and the time of year it may be challenging to schedule a hike during a perfect weather window. Try to keep your schedules flexible (for example, leaving an entire weekend open vs. one day), to take advantage of the best weather.

A man and black dog sit in front of an alpine lake in the mountains in Colorado.
Blue bird skies make for a great hiking date!

6. Dress For the Occasion

If you’re heading out on a hiking date, you probably want to look cute. It’s totally possible to dress appropriately for the weather and season, while also looking stylish on the trail. The secret to crafting the perfect outfit for hiking dates? Athleisure.

You can wear leggings and a cute fleece. A comfy hiking dress. A cute matching set with bike shorts and a long sports bra. The options are endless. Ultimately what you wear hiking is up to you. You want your hiking date outfit to be something that you feel best in that is also appropriate for your hike. Make sure to complete your look with a pair of hiking boots or shoes with good traction.

A bride and groom hiking through the forest.
Hiking at our wedding. Photo by Running Wild Studios.

7. Pack a Special Treat or Have a Picnic

Make your hiking date stand out from an ordinary hike by packing a treat to enjoy along the way. This gives you the perfect excuse to stop, snuggle, and take in the views. I love packing donuts on morning hiking dates, or cookies for hikes later in the day. The key is choosing something that will travel well in your pack (remember chocolate will melt in warm temperatures)!

You can also have a picnic on your hiking date. A mini charcuterie board makes for a great hiking picnic meal. You can pack things like cheese, salami, bread, crackers, and fruit to create your own little spread. Also be sure to pack a blanket and some boxed wine or your other favorite bevvy for a fun time.

Man eating a donut in the San Rafael Swell.

8. Enjoy a Post-Hike Meal

If you don’t want to have a picnic on your hike, make a plan to go out to eat afterwards. Going out for a post-hike meal is typically how my husband and I delineate hiking dates from regular hikes. What’s better than a cold drink and some salty sweet potato fries after a solid day on the trail?!

Enjoying a post-hike meal is a great option if you drove a couple of hours for your hiking date. It gives you an extra opportunity to walk around and explore the area before getting back in the car for your drive home.

A chicken sandwich and sweet potato fries with a beer in Telluride, Colorado.

9. Remember Your Camera & Tripod

Commemorate your hiking date with a little photoshoot. Carrying a camera and tripod may add some extra weight to your pack, but being able to look back on your hiking trip will be priceless. You can even use your hike as an opportunity to take holiday photos!

Having an outdoor photoshoot with your significant other can also get spicy if you want it to. My husband and I have taken plenty of photos out hiking that will never be seen on social media or my blog. If that’s your style, you’re going to want to take extra precautions to make sure you choose a secluded trail that offers some privacy!

If you don’t want to lug a big camera up a mountain, your phone will work just fine. Many tripods offer phone attachments, or you can look for a tripod or gimbal that is made specifically for phones. These are the tripods that I use while hiking: Sensyne phone tripod & a DJI gimbal.

Hiking in Crested Butte in the fall.

10. Make a Playlist For the Drive

To help set the mood during your hiking date, create a special playlist to listen to on your way to and from the trailhead. Not only will a custom playlist make the drive more romantic, but taking the time to intentionally choose songs to add with your partner can be a fun opportunity to connect.

Enjoy your hiking date!

I hope these ideas have you feeling inspired to plan a hiking date with your significant other. As always, remember to practice Leave No Trace on the trail, remember to stay safe, and have fun!

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