If you’re tired of the classic “dinner and a movie” date nights and are looking for a more adventurous option, a hiking date could be the perfect choice for your next romantic outing. However, a hiking date requires a bit more planning and preparation compared to your average date. Whether it’s your fifth date or fifth anniversary, this article will provide you with everything you need to know to make your hiking date memorable for all the right reasons.
Here are our top tips and advice for planning the perfect hiking date.
Hiking with your sweetheart has many perks. From overcoming challenges together to experiencing the magnificent beauty of the natural world, here are some of the benefits of hiking with your date or partner.
Novelty adds excitement to a relationship, and hiking will allow you to experience many new places with stunning natural beauty. From enjoying sweeping mountain vistas to watching the sunset over a lake, the gorgeous scenery you’ll enjoy while hiking creates romantic backdrops and unforgettable memories.
When venturing outdoors, things don’t always go according to plan. Sometimes a sudden rainstorm or fog will roll in and block your view from the summit. Other times, you may get turned around on a poorly marked trail. Although these challenges may not seem ideal at the time, they allow you and your date to work together to solve problems. In doing so, you become closer and get better at working together as a team.
Hiking has many physical and psychological benefits, ranging from better overall physical fitness to improved mental wellbeing and reduced stress. Like other forms of exercise, hiking releases endorphins and makes us feel happy. As a result, it’s a very healthy and relaxing pastime to enjoy with your date or partner that can boost both of your moods.
Everyone has different budgets when it comes to planning a day or night out with your date. Hiking is an entertaining activity that is also very affordable and accessible to those with varying budgets. Gear is typically the most expensive part of hiking, but most people can begin hiking with items they already own. As long as you have sneakers with good grip and comfortable, breathable clothing, you can hit the trails without needing to buy any new or fancy gear. Renting gear or buying it second-hand is also an option.
Spending time in nature with your date is an excellent way to escape some of life’s distractions. Whether it’s never-ending work emails or a flood of social media notifications, the constant presence of technology and cell phones can impact the connection we feel with the people around us. Hiking allows us to put our phones away, slow down, and actually talk to a date or partner.
Hiking can make for an unforgettable date night, but it’s not the best choice for every couple. Before we get into detailed tips for planning your outing, it’s essential to determine whether a hike is a good fit for you and your date. Here are some questions to ask yourself before planning a hiking date.
- Do you or your date have any hiking experience? A hiking date works best when both people have been hiking before and know they like it. Still, as long as you have an open mind and are ready for an adventure, anyone can have a successful hiking date. If you or your date haven’t done much hiking, make sure to choose a short easy trail to start.
- Do you both enjoy being outside? If you are an outdoor enthusiast but your date has hinted they are afraid of bugs or feel more at home indoors, a hiking date may not be the best choice. First, try something that takes place outdoors but is a bit less adventurous than hiking. You could try picnicking in the park, planning a beach day, or visiting a botanical garden or zoo. If those activities go well, you can consider planning a hiking date in the future.
- Do you and your date know and trust one another? If your date is a total stranger, it’s not a good idea to plan a hike with them. Wait until you get to know them better before hitting the trails or venturing into a secluded natural area.
- Do you both want to go hiking? This one may seem obvious, but many hiking dates have gone terribly wrong for one simple reason: one party had no interest in hiking. No matter how much you love the outdoors, a hiking date can only be a success if both parties are genuinely interested in trying it.
Choosing the right trail is a crucial part of planning the perfect hiking date. Here are the top things to consider when selecting a route for your romantic outing.
Hiking trails vary significantly in length and difficulty. From a short two-hour stroll on flat terrain to a full-day climb up a rocky peak, there are tons of different hikes to choose from. Unless you know your date well and are familiar with their hiking abilities, it’s best to start with a short, easy trail that is suitable for hikers of all skill levels. Pick a hike that should take no longer than two to three hours.
Even if you’re both avid adventurers with ample hiking experience, choosing a shorter trail for your first date will allow you to get to know each other without locking you into a full-day excursion. If the date goes well, you can get a meal together after the hike and plan a longer, more challenging hike for a future date with that person. If it doesn’t go well, you can easily turn around if needed or finish the short hike and say goodbye.
Easier trails also tend to be wider. This feature allows you and your date to walk side by side rather than single file. As a result, you can enjoy talking to one another more easily during the hike.
Unless you know your date well, it’s best to choose a trail in a moderately to heavily trafficked area, such as a popular trail in a nearby park or recreation area. Pick a spot that’s not very remote so that you can enjoy nature without the added risks that come with venturing into a very secluded area.
The best trails for hiking dates often have interesting features to add to the experience and romance. Hikes that have waterfalls, sunset overlooks, or picnic areas with gorgeous views are all excellent choices.
It’s normal to want to look good on a date, but comfort and performance should take precedence when hiking. Thankfully, many outdoor brands have started to produce hiking clothing and footwear that is also stylish.
When hiking, you should dress in layers and wear lightweight, breathable clothing that is appropriate for the weather conditions. Opt for footwear that is sturdy and has good traction, such as trail running shoes or hiking boots – just make sure to break them in before your hike if they’re new. You can view our Day Hiking Checklist for detailed tips about what to wear on the trail and how to choose hiking clothing and footwear.
Packing appropriately is an important step to make sure your hiking date goes smoothly. Below is a comprehensive list of items to consider bringing with you on your hiking date. You likely won’t need all of these pieces of gear and can adjust your personal packing list according to the weather conditions and your planned route. More details about each item are available in our Day Hiking Checklist.
- Hiking Clothing and Footwear: comfortable clothing and shoes, including moisture-wicking base layers, hiking shorts or pants, insulating layers, weather-resistant shell, hiking boots or trail running shoes, hiking socks, bandana or buff, hat, sunglasses
- Gear: daypack (10-30+ liters), trekking poles, traction devices or crampons (for snowy/icy hikes), gaiters
- Navigation: GPS device or watch, map, compass, guidebook, route description
- Food and Water: water, water bottle or hydration reservoir, plenty of snacks, electrolyte drinks or powders, picnic supplies. Running out of food or water can put a damper on your date, so always pack more than you think you’ll need.
- Picnic Supplies: In addition to basic food and water needs while hiking, pack some extra items to make your date special. If it’s cold out, bring a thermos with hot tea, coffee, or soup to sip and warm up while you’re enjoying the view from the top. If you drink alcohol, you can bring some wine or another beverage of your choice to enjoy with your date. Just make sure to drink in moderation so that you both stay safe on the trail.
- Blanket: If you’re planning to watch the sunset or have a picnic somewhere, pack a blanket or two so you have a cozy place to sit and cuddle with your date.
- Tools and Emergency Supplies: first-aid kit, basic gear repair kit, headlamp or flashlight, extra batteries, knife or multi-tool, lighter or matches, fire starters, emergency shelter, hand warmers, whistle
- Toiletries and Hygiene: insect repellent, sun protection, hand sanitizer, biodegradable soap, baby wipes, toilet paper or pee cloth, trash bags, personal medications, menstrual products, trowel or wag bag
- Technology, Entertainment, and Other Items: Cell phone, camera, charging cable, charging bank, field guide, binoculars, ID, cash, credit cards
While you can go hiking in the snow or rain, we recommend choosing a day and season with optimal weather conditions for a hiking date. Pick a time that’s not too cold and has clear, sunny weather for the best view.
Make sure to check the forecast ahead of your date, and don’t proceed with the hike if there’s bad weather in the forecast. It’s wise to have a backup plan in case the forecast changes suddenly just before your intended departure.
These steps are an essential part of staying safe on any hike, but they are especially important if you’re hiking with someone you only met recently.
- Share your itinerary and location with a friend or family member: Give your itinerary to a friend or family member ahead of time and consider using a hiking app that allows them to see your current location. You can find out which hiking apps we recommend here.
- Only go hiking with someone you trust: Avoid planning a hiking date as a first date. Unless you’ve known the person for some time (such as a coworker, friend, or other acquaintance that you already know but are just beginning to date), it’s best to plan your first date in a public setting with plenty of other people around.
- Consider making it a double date or group date: For added safety, bring along another couple or couples that you know. That way, you won’t be alone on the trail with only your date.
- Offer to meet at the trailhead: Your date may feel more comfortable meeting at the trailhead instead of riding together in the same vehicle. Check with them ahead of time to make plans that make you both feel safe and comfortable.
- Trust your instincts: If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe at any time during the planning process, avoid going hiking with that person. If you’re already on the trail, get to safety as soon as possible.
Going hiking with your date is a fantastic way to enjoy each other’s company in a healthy, active way while also experiencing beautiful places together. However, an outdoor date isn’t for everyone. Make sure you discuss your plans well with your date ahead of the excursion to ensure they are on board with everything you have planned. By following the tips in this post, you’ll be able to figure out if a hiking excursion is right for you and your date and plan a memorable adventure.