While a fancy dinner or a trip to a winery can stoke the fires of romance, a shared outdoor adventure like a hike can form stronger bonds (and keep you both in better shape!). It doesn’t need to be especially long or difficult, as you are better off focusing on ones with incredible scenery and the right amenities to keep you comfortable. Here are eight that check all of these boxes (plus a difficult one at the end!), and will play up on your love for the great outdoors – and each other.
1. Western Ridge Trail, Rock Creek Park, Washington, DC
The Student Conservation Association recommends this hike, which has long stretches of tree-lined trails and plenty of jump on and jump off points. It does have a “strenuous” route if you are into “mild rock scrabbling,” but otherwise, stick to the easier path.
2. Oakland-Wild Cat Peak Loop, Tilden Regional Park, California
Located in San Francisco’s East Bay area, this easy 3.4-mile loop is also lined with trees, and takes you up to an incredible view of the San Francisco skyline and down through a cool wooded canyon. Points of interest along the way include the Tilden Nature Area, Little Farm and some amazing eucalyptus groves.
3. The Living Room Trail, Wasatch Mountains, Salt Lake City, UT
This is a very romantic trail that takes you to an optimum sunset-viewing spot that overlooks the entire Salt Lake valley. It’s a steep(ish) hike but short, and leads couples to a lovely perch over the Natural History Museum of Utah. To up the romance factor, go here on New Year’s Eve or the 4th of July to see firework shows put on by different towns.
4. Rails to Trails, new River Trail State Park, Virginia
Located in southern Virginia, this 57.7-mile rail-trail is mostly downhill if you head south to north, and offers plenty of great jump-off spots. There are some beautiful trestles to see (Fries Junction and Hiawassee are good ones), and you can bring a picnic lunch, check out the scenic vistas and go kayaking or canoeing. You can also book a guided horse ride as well.
5. Cape Cod Rail Trail, Massachusetts
With its ocean views, sandy beaches and charming New England towns, the Cape Cod Rail Trail is 22 miles long and works its way through the southeastern peninsula into Cape Cod National Seashore. You’ll see plenty of lighthouses, Nickerson State Park (hike and mountain bike here) and the town of Wellfleet. In fact, make Wellfleet your last stop because the galleries, artisan shops and oysters shouldn’t be missed.
6. Ke Ala Hele Makalae, Kauai, Hawaii
If you’re lucky enough to make it to Hawaii, take your beloved on the Ke Ala Hele Makalae (Path That Goes by the Coast). This stunning, 17-mile multi-use trail is slated to connect Nawiliwili to Anahola, and has scenic beaches and parks. The main attraction here is Lydgate Park, which has two lagoons for camping, snorkeling and swimming.
7. Napa Valley Vine Trail, California
Few things are as romantic as sharing a fine wine after a hike, and the Napa Valley Vine Trail is the place to do it. It starts at Vallego and ends in Calistoga, and the 47.5-mile trail features sprawling vineyards ad mountains in the background. Just remember to hydrate more than usual if you’re planning to imbibe before or after the hike!
8. Pine Creek Rail Trail, Pennsylvania
Number eight on this list is Pine Creek Rail Trail, in the Appalachian Mountains of north-central PA. It’s 62 miles long and well-maintained, and goes down to the bottom of the Pine Creek Gorge, which is called The “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.” You and yours can see an abundance of wildlife and wildflowers; you can also take horse-drawn wagon rides, enjoy lovely restaurants, camp out or stay at one of their lodging options.