9 Best Hiking Date Ideas You’ll Love (Any Couple)

Looking for great hiking date ideas?  You’ve come to the right place.  My top recommendation is to choose an easy hike with some kind of additional activity.  

Whether it’s your first time going out with this person or you are in a committed relationship, hiking is a great way to get to know each other better and see the great outdoors.

In this guide, I’ll talk about my five favorite hiking date ideas and top tips to make your date hike fun and stress-free.  

Should You Choose Hiking for a Date?

Lots of my friends HATE hiking for a date, and to be honest, I understand why.  I’ve had my fair share of hiking dates that were not all that enjoyable.

The most memorable of these was a five-mile very steep hike that I did on a first date with a guy I barely knew.  And we were hiking during the scorching afternoon hours.  We were both so out of breath on the trail that we couldn’t really talk, and I didn’t go on hiking dates for a long time after that.

Fast-forward ten years, and my husband and I go on hiking dates ALL the time.  Yes, we are married, but I think that hiking for a date (even for a first or second date) is a great idea, as long as you choose the right trail and plan it well. 

Hiking is a great way to get out of your comfort zone, spend time in nature, and create some great memorable moments. 

two tourists above the grand canyon; day hikes are one of the best hiking date ideas
Kendall and I before our winter hike to the Colorado River and back (Grand Canyon)

Best Types of Hiking Trails as a Date

The first step to planning a fantastic hiking date is to choose an appropriate trail.  The best trail for you and your date, of course, depends on a few things.  Is this a first date?  Are you an avid hiker?  Is your date a big hiker?  What season is it?

For established couples, go on whatever adventures you both feel excited about!  However, if this is a first date, here are a few recommendations for appropriate hiking trails:

Easy hikes: even if you are both huge hikers, the point of a first date is to get to know each other, so save the crazy steep trails for later.  Opt for a short hike without a lot of elevation gain. 

Nearby trails: We think that short and sweet first dates are always a good idea.  You might really hit it off with the other person…but you might not.  

Choose a day hike that isn’t too far away. Save the far-away hikes for a date that you know well enough to know that it won’t be a long, awkward car ride. 

Shaded trails: The idea of being drenched in sweat is not the most appealing to most people heading out on a first date.  Find a hiking trail with good shade coverage, and don’t go during the hottest part of the day. 

female tourist as seen from behind on the shaded steps of a hike

Trails with some kind of activity: This can be a whole range of things, from birdwatching to a picnic, to stargazing, to city exploring.  Having an activity in addition to walking is a good way to add a little variety, give a little more structure to the date, and invite conversation. 

Hiking Date Idea #1: Sunrise Hike With A Picnic

If your date doesn’t mind an early morning, a sunrise hike with a picnic is a classic romantic hike option. Also, a picnic is a fun, restful activity to break up your hike and gives you a great chance to sit and talk.

Here are some of my favorite picnic food ideas:

  • Sandwich Wraps: these are easy to transport and won’t get smushed in your bag.  And, you can be creative and fill them with just about anything (deli meats, chicken salad, hummus).
  • Hummus and Veggie sticks
  • Bagel sandwiches: Unlike regular bread, bagels won’t get smashed.  And you can be super creative with these!  
  • Pita pockets: easy to prepare and easy to eat
  • Cheese and crackers: bring fancy cheeses to make it feel even more special

I purchased a cooler-insulated backpack a while back and use it all the time.  This is an easy way to keep your food fresh on your hike. 

overhead close-up shot of a gray insulation-lined cooler backpack

Hike Date #2:  Snowshoeing and Hot Chocolate

Snowshoeing is a great date idea if you live in an area with snowy winters.  It’s a fun way to get outdoors and is one of our favorite things to do in Spokane in the winter.  

I purchased my snowshoes for cheap on Facebook marketplace (this is a great option for finding quality used equipment).

My favorite way to find snowshoe trails is to select the ‘Snowshoe’ filter on Alltrails.com.  This will pull up any trail within your selected map area that has been categorized as snowshoe-able.

snow-covered flat trail surrounded by pine trees
Riverside State Park near Spokane, Washington. This is one of my favorite places to snowshoe in the winter

Pack your hot chocolate or coffee in a thermos like the Stanley Vacuum insulated bottle to keep it piping hot so you can enjoy it warm at the end of your hike.   

Hiking Date Idea #3: Sunset Hike and Stargazing Race 

Watching the sunset is a romantic way to end your hiking date, and adding some stargazing is a great way to spend a little more time outside at the end of your hike.

sunset against black mountain silhouette

This one really only works if you live in a more remote area away from light pollution, and is a better hike for the warmer summer months. 

Stellarium is a great free stargazing app available for both Apple and Android phones.  I love this app; just hold it up to the night sky to identify constellations.

We like to make a game out of it.  Randomly choose a constellation from your hemisphere, and then see which of you can find it on your app first.

Hiking Date Idea #4: Urban Hike Scavenger Hunt

Most people only think of hiking as an in-the-woods activity, but the ‘Urban hikes’ that Kendall and I have done have been some of our favorites. 

Our favorite way to do this is as part of a city scavenger hunt.  Check out Scavengerhunt.com or OperationCityQuest.com for scavenger hunts in your city.  

Each of these is a photo scavenger hunt where you’ll have to find items and complete challenges.  We always have a blast, and this is a great way to get to know your own city. 

bronze statues in running form, shown along a paved trail in Spokane City
‘The Joy of Running Together’ set of sculptures in downtown Spokane

Hiking Date Idea #5: Geocaching

I love geocaching; it combines the best parts of hiking (being outdoors and seeing new scenery) with a treasure-hunt-like game. 

Geocaching is a network of hidden ‘caches’ (usually a small container with a logbook inside).  The game is to find the cache and simply sign your name.  People get really creative with these!

To start, head over to geocaching.com and read their getting started page.  You’ll also want to download the geocaching app 

clear Geocache bottle with pen and paper inside

Hiking Date Idea #6: Photos in the Fall Colors

Turn your hiking date into a fall colors photo shoot.  Or, if you are really nerdy like us, make a game out of finding the biggest collection of different-shaped fall leaves.

When is the best time to see the fall colors?  Check out this awesome interactive fall foliage Map from explorefall.com that shows historical data for peak fall colors in every state in the US. 

Hiking Date Idea #7: Birdwatching Bingo

Birdwatching and Bingo; combine these two fun activities with being on a beautiful trail, and you’ve got the makings for an awesome date. 

My favorite Bird-watching app (by far) is Merlin Bird ID by Cornell Lab. 

This app will guide you to download the ‘bird pack’ for your specific area.  You can then try to identify any bird you see (or hear) by sound, photo, or by answering a series of questions.  If you find a bird, mark it off your list!

yellow toucan bird in Costa Rica

This is a fun, game-like way to keep your eyes open for wildlife along the trail. 

Also, Alltrails has a specific filter for birdwatching routes.  From the homepage, hit ‘Explore’.  A map will pop up with nearby trails. To see any birdwatching trails, hit the ‘birdwatching’ filter under ‘More filters’ in the top right-hand corner.  

Hiking Date Idea #8: Night Hike and Hot Springs

Sitting in a natural hot springs pool is one of my favorite ways to end a hike, and it’s made all the more thrilling by doing it as a night-time adventure (I’d do this as a double date or group date unless you know the person very well). 

My favorite way to find hot springs hikes is to simply select the ‘Hot Springs’ filter under ‘More Filters’ on Alltrails.

Now, if there are no hot springs hikes in your area (there aren’t any near Spokane), you could simply end your hike at a hot springs resort.  Head over to hotspringsofamerica.com or tophotsprings.com to browse hot spring resorts by state. 

picture of still river water at dusk

Hiking Date Idea #9: Lakeside Hike with Inflatable Kayaks

We found our inflatable kayas on an online discount store for $50 each and have used them to death.  What we love most about these kayaks is that they are easy to roll up and throw in the trunk of our car. 

What’s the easiest way to plan an amazing hike and kayak date?  Head over to Alltrails, filter for lake hikes, and then choose one where the lake is fairly close to the parking lot.

tourist in an inflatable kayak on the turquoise-blue waters of Lake Louise

Hiking Date Tips

1. Talk about your hiking experience and skill level before you plan your hiking adventure (especially if this is a first date!)  I always recommend easy trails for a first date. However, even if you are both experienced hikers, you’ll want to make sure that your date feels comfortable hiking at all.  

2. Take lots of breaks.  This is another reason why hikes with lots of stops along the way (scenic viewpoints, informational plaques, etc) are fantastic.  This not only allows you to chat more, but it’s also a good chance to make sure that you both are still feeling energized and ready to continue.

3. Have some games or topics to talk about on the trail.  I love these conversation lists from conversationstartersworld.com They’ve got everything from basic get-to-know-you questions to thought-provoking deep-discussion topics. 

4. Wear appropriate clothing: This will help wick away sweat and keep you feeling good.  While Kendall loves hiking in jeans, I always recommend going for synthetic fabrics (leggings and convertible hiking pants are all great).  If the weather is hot, be sure to wear a great hot-weather hiking shirt to keep you cool.

5. Good footwear is a must: If there’s one thing that will crash and burn a date quickly, it’s having an injury on the trail.  While I always bring my hiking shoes for my Achilles problems, you can usually get away with a quality pair of athletic shoes. 

6. Check the forecast: If there’s a storm rolling in, you’ll be better off rescheduling your date-hike for another day.

7. Don’t choose an overly-crowded trail.  If the point is to get to know each other, you’ll want some breathing room.  

overhead view of botanical garden trail in Bogota, Colombia
This was an easy trail we did at the Botanical Gardens in Bogota

What to Pack for a Fantastic Hiking Date

Here’s what we always have with us on our hiking dates (most of this stuff I carry with me on almost every hike I go on). 

  • A downloaded map of your hike (I pay for Alltrails premium to download my maps)
  • A good water bottle with enough water (bring a little more than you think you’ll need)
  • Your snacks, picnic meals, or fun drinks
  • A jacket (unless it is scorching hot; I’ve found a jacket is always a good idea)
  • Phones and portable phone charger (I love the phone charger by Anker, and it stays in my backpack all the time)
  • Anything you need to be downloaded from your apps (birdwatching bird pack, trail map, conversation questions). This is the biggest thing I forget.
  • Binoculars (if your date involves wildlife watching)
  • A small first aid kit with anti-inflammatory medication, antibiotic ointment, and a simple Ace Bandage. 
  • And finally, a backpack to carry everything
line of hiking backpacks sitting on a wooden bench

Tips for Staying Safe on Your Hiking Date

Staying safe is, of course, one of the most important things.  Here’s what we always recommend:

Before the Hike:

  • Choose a well-marked and well-traveled trail, no bush-wacking!
  • Check the weather forecast before heading out.  Bad weather can make a hike much less enjoyable, and you don’t want to get caught in a storm. 
  • Tell someone about your hiking plans, including the trail you’ll be on and when you should be back.

During the Hike:

  • Stick to the marked trail and don’t do any risky activities (swimming in swift rivers, cliff-jumping).  
  • Make it a group date (especially if hiking at night or in more remote areas)
  • Check in with your date often to make sure they are feeling okay and still having fun.

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