As the country begins to reopen, we'll keep publishing news to help you navigate the state of travel today (like whether travel insurance covers the coronavirus), as well as stories about places for you to put on your bucket list once it's safe to start going more far-flung.
There’s no better way to spend Valentine’s Day than getting the endorphins going and working up a sweat. So, in the service of love, we pulled together the most romantic hikes we could find to make sure your V-Day romp is truly breathtaking.
This year-round trail lies an hour and a half north of Seattle, on a wooded island jutting into the Puget Sound. A three-mile loop meanders around a beautiful, heart-shape lake in the shadow of coastal pines and nearby Mt. Erie. Expect the smell of cedar, the sound of birdsong, and the occasional deer. (One thing to keep in mind: the Washington Trail Association notes that the trip is technically several trails—a combination of trails 210, 212, 215 and 230—so watch for signs. Heart Lake is popular with families and fishermen, and nearby hills and old train bridges offer especially romantic picnic spots.
Washington County, Utah
Who isn’t moved by southwest Utah’s red rocks and sweeping plateaus? Forty miles west of Zion National Park sits the Santa Clara River Reserve, with 6,500 acres of public desert, splashed in hues of orange and pink. Just outside the town of Santa Clara is a massive, west-facing tabletop plateau, complete with panoramic views of this tiny bit of the Mojave that extends into in southern Utah. The local paper, the St. George News, suggests making the 2.5-mile hike to the top of the mountain a little before sunset, then walking back down to your car by the moonlight.
Point Reyes, California
Bay Area trails are chock full of gorgeous views, from ancient redwoods to fog-covered peaks, but the best spots may well be Marin County, just over the Golden Gate Bridge north of San Francisco. Of the county’s many jaw-dropping hikes, one of its most beloved ends with an incredible 40-foot waterfall cascading directly onto Wildcat Beach. Alamere Falls is about four miles into the Palomarin Trail, in the Point Reyes National Sea Shore, about 30 miles north of San Francisco. The first mile or so hugs a craggy shore-side cliff and features spectacular views of the Pacific. The hike is a bit strenuous—you’ll have to gain a few hundred feet of elevation—and the rock scramble down to the beach may be a little hairy, but the view is worth it. Plus, depending on how traditional your relationship is, feel free to drop by Bass Lake on your walk back, a watering hole the San Francisco Bay Guardian’s Nude Beaches Guide whole heartedly endorses.
The Kalalua is a strenuous 11-mile trail along the staggering Na Pali coast on the island of Kauai. The route—which can take a full day—is the only access to this rugged, remote stretch of beautiful coastline. After passing through five lush valleys, the trail drops you at the most romantic of destinations: your own private beach. Kalalua Beach, it’s called, is blocked on both sides by the sheer, jagged cliffs—it’s the kind of quintessential Hawaiian scene usually reserved for postcards.
Devil’s Slide is not the easiest hike. It’s a five-mile out-and-back with 1,700 feet of elevation gain up the San Jacinto Mountains, between Los Angeles and Palm Springs. The views from the top—undulating granite peaks and pines stretching down to the valley below—earned by those pounding calves, are some of the best in Southern California.
But while the sights may be incredible, it’s the after-hike activities that kick up the romance. Depending on your tastes, you can decamp to the lovely Grand Idyllwild Lodge about two miles from the trailhead. Or, if you’re a more hardcore couple, you can commit to a 16-mile roundtrip and crush another 2,700 vertical feet to summit San Jacinto Peak. You can also reach the peak from the Mountain Station — the terminus for the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, a rotating, window-filled tram that descends 6,000 feet over the desert from the peaks to Palm Springs.