How to Plan a Hiking Elopement in 2023

Are you and your partner looking for a unique and adventurous way to tie the knot? Consider a hiking elopement! With stunning natural landscapes as your backdrop, hiking elopements are becoming an increasingly popular choice for couples who want to celebrate their love in a more intimate and adventurous way. Whether you’re eloping to a secluded spot surrounded by nature or going for a more adventurous hike up a mountain, a hiking elopement can be a unique and special way to commit to each other and celebrate your love. In this blog post, I will provide tips on how to plan your own hiking elopement that leaves you with unforgettable memories.

What is a Hiking Elopement?

A hiking elopement is a type of wedding ceremony that is becoming increasingly popular among couples who are looking for a unique and adventurous way to exchange vows. This type of elopement typically involves hiking, camping, backpacking, or other outdoor activities in scenic and remote locations. It is a way for couples to celebrate their love for each other while connecting with nature. Unlike a traditional wedding, a hiking elopement is typically small and intimate, with only the couple and a small number of close friends or family members in attendance. The focus is on the couple and their connection to each other, as well as their love of nature and the outdoors.

Choose a Location

One of the most important aspects on How to Plan a Hiking Elopement is selecting the perfect location. Some of the top hiking elopement destinations in the United States include national parks like Yosemite, Zion, and Glacier and popular trails like the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the Colorado Trail. However, many lesser-known hiking trails and locations can provide stunning backdrops for your elopement ceremony.

When selecting a location for your hiking elopement, there are several factors to consider. You will want to choose a trail that suits your fitness level and experience and a location with scenic views and photo opportunities. It’s also important to consider the time of year, weather conditions, and any permits or restrictions that may apply to your chosen location.

Here are some of the best places for a hiking elopement in California:

Big Pine Lakes

Located in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains, Big Pine Lakes offers beautiful alpine lakes, waterfalls, and stunning views.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is one of the most iconic and beautiful natural locations in the world, featuring granite cliffs, waterfalls, and stunning valleys.

Big Sur Coast

With miles of coastline, Big Sur offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and is perfect for a romantic and intimate elopement.

Lake Tahoe

The Tahoe area is perfect for couples who love hiking and outdoor adventure. It offers incredible views of the lake, mountains, and forests.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park offers incredible desert scenery, unique rock formations, and beautiful sunsets.

Here are some tips for choosing the perfect location for your hiking elopement:

Determine Your Fitness Level and Experience

Before selecting a location, it’s important to consider your fitness level and hiking experience. Choose a trail that is suitable for your skill level, and make sure you have the appropriate gear and equipment for the terrain. If you’re a beginner, consider starting with a shorter hike or choosing a location with less challenging terrain. On the other hand, if you’re an experienced hiker, you may want to choose a more challenging trail that offers more adventure and excitement.

Look for Scenic Views and Photo Opportunities

One of the biggest advantages of hiking elopement is the opportunity to exchange vows in some of the most beautiful and scenic locations in the world. Look for locations that offer stunning backdrops for your ceremony and photo opportunities that will take your breath away.

Some popular hiking elopement locations in the United States include national parks like Yosemite, Zion, and Glacier and popular trails like the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, and the Colorado Trail. However, many lesser-known hiking trails and locations can provide equally stunning backdrops for your elopement ceremony.

Consider the Time of Year and Weather Conditions

The time of year and weather conditions can play a significant role in your choice of location for a hiking elopement. While many trails are accessible year-round, some may be closed or more difficult to navigate during certain seasons.

Weather Conditions and Temperatures

Consider the weather conditions and temperatures during the time of year you plan to elope and make sure you have appropriate clothing and gear for the climate. For example, if you’re planning a winter elopement, you’ll want to choose a location with suitable trails for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. In comparison, if choosing a summer elopement, it’s best to avoid deserts and canyons.

Research Permits and Restrictions

Many hiking locations, particularly those in national parks, require permits or have restrictions on the number of people allowed on the trail at any given time. Be sure to research any permits or restrictions that may apply to your chosen location, and plan accordingly. Some locations may also have restrictions on where you can hold your ceremony or take photos, so it’s important to be aware of any limitations before making your final decision.

Pick a Date or Season

When selecting a date for your hiking elopement, it is crucial to consider the weather conditions in your chosen location. You should conduct research to determine the typical weather patterns for the season you are considering, as well as any unpredictable weather patterns that could occur. This will help you choose a season that offers mild temperatures and beautiful scenery for your hike. It is important to have a backup plan in case of bad weather, such as choosing an indoor or covered ceremony location or rescheduling your elopement to a different date.

Additionally, you should consider the level of difficulty of your hiking trail and your physical fitness level when choosing a date. You may want to avoid the hottest or coldest times of the year or select a date that allows for ample daylight to complete your hike. Overall, taking the time to carefully consider the weather conditions in your chosen location will help you choose the perfect date for your hiking elopement.

Here are some factors to consider when selecting a date for your hiking elopement:

Weather Conditions

Weather is one of the most crucial factors to consider when choosing a date for your hiking elopement. Depending on the location of your hike, the weather can change quickly and be unpredictable, so it’s important to do your research and check the forecast before making any final decisions.

Time of Year

Depending on the location of your hike, certain times of the year may be better than others. For example, some trails may be too icy or snowy to hike during the winter months, while others may be too hot and dry during the summer.

Peak Season vs. Off-Season

Depending on your location, peak season can be a great time to hike and enjoy the natural beauty of the area, but it can also mean more crowds and higher prices for accommodations.

Trail Conditions

Before selecting a date for your hiking elopement, it’s essential to research the trail conditions of your chosen location. Some trails may be closed due to weather conditions or maintenance, while others may be too difficult for certain skill levels.

Backup Plan

As mentioned earlier, weather conditions can be unpredictable, even with careful planning. Always have a backup plan in case of bad weather or unexpected trail closures.

Make a Gear List

When it comes to preparing for a hike, creating a gear list is essential. It ensures that you have all the necessary equipment and supplies for your trip and can help prevent any potential problems or mishaps. Your gear list should include items such as appropriate clothing for the weather conditions, comfortable footwear, enough water, and snacks to keep you  fueled, and any necessary navigation or safety equipment.

It’s important to be comprehensive in your list-making and to make sure you have everything you need before embarking on your adventure. This will not only make your hike more enjoyable, but it will also ensure that you’re prepared for any unexpected situations that may arise.

Here’s a comprehensive list of items to consider adding to your hiking gear list:

  • Hiking Boots or Shoes: Proper footwear is essential for any hiking trip. Choose shoes or boots that are comfortable, provide good support, and are appropriate for the terrain you’ll be hiking on.
  • Backpacks: A sturdy and comfortable backpack is necessary to carry all your gear, snacks, and water on the hike. Choose a backpack with enough capacity to hold all your essentials.
  • Water: Bring plenty of water for your hike, especially if it’s a longer hike or if the weather is hot. Consider bringing a hydration system, like a water bladder, or a water bottle that can be refilled with a filtration or purification system.
  • Snacks: Bring high-energy snacks that are easy to carry, like granola bars, trail mix, or energy bars.
  • Sunscreen: Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by applying sunscreen before and during your hike. Choose a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Insect Repellent: Keep bugs at bay with insect repellent. Choose a repellent that is effective against ticks and mosquitoes.
  • First Aid Kit: Accidents can happen on the trail, so it’s important to bring a well-stocked first aid kit. Pack items like band-aids, gauze, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and tweezers.
  • Maps and Compass: Bring a map and compass to navigate the trail and avoid getting lost. Consider bringing a GPS device or a smartphone with a mapping app as a backup.
  • Headlamps or Flashlights: If you plan to hike during low-light conditions or camp overnight, bring a headlamp or flashlight to light your way.
  • Warm Layers or Rain Gear: Weather can change quickly on the trail, so be prepared with warm layers or rain gear, depending on the forecast. Consider bringing a waterproof jacket, a hat, gloves, and a warm fleece or down jacket

Photography and Videography for Your Hiking Elopement

Your hiking elopement will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one that you’ll want to remember for years to come. That’s why it’s essential to hire a photographer or videographer to capture the memories of your special day. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind when choosing the right photographer or videographer for your hiking elopement.

Why Hiring a Photographer or Videographer is Important

Hiring a professional photographer or videographer ensures that your memories are captured in the best possible way. A skilled photographer or videographer will know how to capture the beauty of your surroundings and the emotions of your day. They will have the right equipment and expertise to create stunning images and videos that will allow you to relive your hiking elopement for years to come.

Tips for Selecting the Right Photographer or Videographer

When selecting a photographer or videographer for your hiking elopement, it’s essential to do your research. Look for a professional with experience in outdoor photography and videography, and make sure to review their portfolio to see if their style matches your vision. It’s also important to communicate your expectations and preferences upfront so that you and your photographer or videographer are on the same page.

I highly recommend adventure elopement videographer Julian Talib for your outdoor videography needs.

Here are some additional tips to consider when selecting the right photographer or videographer for your hiking elopement:

  • Look for someone with experience shooting in natural light and outdoor settings.
  • Make sure they have the necessary equipment and backup gear in case of any issues.
  • Consider their personality and communication style, as you’ll want to feel comfortable and at ease around them on your special day.
  • Read reviews and ask for referrals from friends or family members who have hired a photographer or videographer in the past.

I specialize in adventure elopements and have plenty of experience hiking outdoors. I’ve helped countless couples and groups navigate trails, backpacking, and camping. I am so excited to hear more about your dream hiking elopement.

Creative Ideas for Capturing Stunning Elopement Photos and Videos on the Hiking Trail

Hiking elopements provide a unique opportunity to capture stunning photos and videos in breathtaking natural settings. Here are some creative ideas to consider when planning your elopement photography or videography:

  • Incorporate natural elements such as flowers, rocks, and waterfalls into your photos and videos.
  • Use creative angles and perspectives to capture unique shots of your surroundings and your special day.
  • Consider incorporating props such as a vintage rug, a picnic basket, or a compass for a whimsical touch.
  • Plan your photo or video shoot around the golden hour – the time just before sunset or after sunrise when the lighting is soft and golden.
  • Consider including your hiking gear or backpack in some of your shots, to add a sense of adventure to your photos and videos

Have a Backup Plan

Having a backup plan is an important aspect of any outdoor adventure. Even if you’ve planned your trip down to the smallest detail, there are always unforeseen circumstances that can arise, such as bad weather, trail closures, or other emergencies. To ensure you’re prepared for any situation, it’s important to have a backup plan in place.

One key aspect of a backup plan is to consider selecting a location with both indoor and outdoor options. This means that if the weather turns sour, you can still enjoy your trip by taking shelter in a nearby cabin, visitor center, or other indoor location. This is especially important if you’re planning a trip in an area known for unpredictable weather patterns.

Another option is to choose an area with multiple trails or viewpoints to ensure you have options in case of inclement weather. This means that if one trail is closed or too dangerous to navigate, you can still explore other areas and make the most of your trip. Additionally, it’s important to research local emergency services and have a plan in place for how to contact them in case of an emergency. This may include bringing a satellite phone, learning how to use a map and compass, or having a first aid kit on hand.


Overall, a hiking elopement can be a beautiful and memorable way to tie the knot. By carefully considering all of the logistics involved on How to Plan a Hiking Elopement, from selecting the perfect trail and attire to planning the ceremony and securing accommodations, you can ensure that your special day goes off without a hitch. With a little bit of creativity and careful planning, you can create the perfect hiking elopement experience that you and your partner will cherish for a lifetime. So, get out there and start planning your dream hiking elopement in 2023!

I’m Karen, a California adventure elopement photographer who empowers couples to create memories that will last a lifetime. I am dedicated to providing the tools you need to push the boundaries of tradition and create an unforgettable experience. 

I help all couples worldwide by providing personalized location lists, planning resources, vendor recommendations, permits, timeline-curation, and much more to curate elopement days that will be cherished forever.

Here's to co-creating an unforgettable elopement experience.


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