If you know me, you know that one of my favorite things is getting outside and hiking through the beautiful landscapes that the PNW has to provide. I’m so incredibly lucky that I also get the privilege of bringing my wonderful couples along with me on these beautiful hikes! If you’re considering escaping the world of big weddings & opting instead for an intimate hiking elopement in Washington, you’ve come to the right place – that’s kinda my thing.
In this blog post, I’ll be going through the best places for a WA hiking elopement, how to pick your elopement location & hike, my top logistical tips for a smooth hiking elopement, and a packing list for you to follow, as well as tips on how to Leave No Trace. Get excited – because I know I personally cannot wait to adventure with you & celebrate your love out in the beautiful mountains this state has to offer!
I can’t talk about the amazing mountains of Washington without including the iconic Mount Rainier National Park! With over 260 miles of maintained trails, wildflower meadows, and breathtaking views everywhere you look, this park is truly one of the most beautiful places you could ask for if you’re planning a hiking elopement.
Carye & Kyle thought so too – they hiked around the park at sunrise and experienced the most magical morning for their Mount Rainier hiking elopement. A ceremony in front of the prettiest pink alpenglow, with nobody else around but them? Talk about a dream! You can check out their full Mount Rainier elopement here to see all the magic they experienced as they officially tied the knot in the park.
I’m so in love with Mount Rainier that I even have an entire blog post dedicated to guiding you through how to elope there – click the lil’ graphic below for the Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Mount Rainier Elopement!
Another one of the most stunning national parks in the country, Olympic National Park offers such a unique variety of options for a hiking elopement. Whether you’d rather hike to a waterfall through the rainforest, take an easier hike along the coast, or hike up to a spot with incredible views of the Olympics, ONP has tons of day hikes to offer.
Because I love this national park SO damn much as well, you guessed it – I’ve got a whole Olympic National Park elopement guide ready for ya to take a look at!
Click below to learn all about the jaw-dropping locations ONP has to offer, as well as permit information, where to stay near Olympic National Park, & more!
Finally, the Mt. Baker Wilderness is the perfect area for those of you looking to have a hiking elopement in the further north part of the state! There are plenty of hiking options around the Mt. Baker Wilderness area, from easier walks around maintained areas to more intense climbs further up the mountain.
One of my personal favorite spots up at Baker has got to be Artist Point & the nearby trails – you get absolutely incredible mountain views, meadows, and beautiful green trees everywhere! Francesca + Josh took their engagement photos at Mt. Baker, and I highly recommend checking them out because they’re the cutest, and this location was absolutely stunning.
When it comes to planning your hiking elopement, the biggest choice you’ll have to make is obviously where the heck you want to go! With so many incredible options throughout Washington, it’s super hard to narrow down your options & decide which one will be the perfect backdrop when you promise the rest of your lives to each other.
Here are my best 8 tips to help you pick your location + the hike you’ll do to get to your elopement ceremony spot!
Washington is an absolutely unreal state because of how many OPTIONS it has to offer. Snow-capped mountain ranges, wildflower meadows, moody coastlines, crystal-clear lakes, lush rainforests, cascading waterfalls, deserts. . . the list goes on & on!
To start dreaming about your elopement location, pick the backdrop & type of landscape that you’re most drawn to. Do you find yourself at your happiest when you’re walking up a mountain? Are you most at peace when you’re standing in front of a giant waterfall, feeling the mist all over your face & body?
Think about what you don’t like, too – because that’s just as important! If you absolutely hate being in the rainforest under pouring rain, def avoid that for your elopement ceremony. Or if you can’t stand being freezing cold under a waterfall, don’t do it!
Your elopement location should be a place that brings you feelings of joy, peace, and love so you can have the most beautiful elopement experience possible.
Obviously you’ll need to pick a hike if you’re having a hiking elopement (I know – helpful, right?) 😉 In order to pick the best hike for your day, think about how strenuous of a hike you’re wanting to do.
It’s super important to be realistic about this: if you know you love hiking just a short distance to get to a beautiful location and you’re ready to be done after that, great! Find an easier, quicker hike that takes no more than 20-30 minutes to complete.
If you’re looking for a bigger adventure, are you looking for a hike that’s longer, but might not actually be too hard or steep? Or if you’re wanting a more intense route, maybe you want to find a hike that takes you a good chunk of time, challenges your physical ability, and rewards you with insane views at the end.
Think through what type, length, & difficulty of hike would give you the BEST experience possible on your elopement day! Don’t pick anything that might be too difficult and cause you to be stressed or extremely tired, but also don’t pick anything that you know won’t bring you the reward you desire after a hike.
It’s all up to you & what you’re comfortable with + able to do! No wrong answers here 🙂
AllTrails is a fantastic app for all things hiking – look up any area or hike and it’ll tell you EVERYTHING you need to know. You can see photos of the hike & views at the end, reviews from recent hikers, average weather forecasts, and any other special rules + regulations of that location. Make sure to take advantage of the Offline Maps feature so you won’t have to worry about having cell reception the day of your elopement!
When planning a hiking elopement, it’s important to plan out potential activities that you’d like to do! For example, if you’re looking for a location that allows you to go on a hike, then go kayaking in a lake afterward with your loved ones, maybe hit up Olympic National Park. If you’re wanting to take a swim in a waterfall at the end of a hike to refresh your bodies, both ONP & Mount Rainier NP have some options for that!
Think through what activities would make your elopement day AMAZING, and find out what locations offer you the opportunity to incorporate those activities into your day!
You all know how important I believe it is to follow the rules + restrictions that public lands have in place, and one of the biggest ways to do that is to get the appropriate permits for your elopement! All National Parks require you to get certain specific permits for your elopement ceremony, and many state parks do as well. A good rule of thumb: if you’re planning to elope on any type of public land, do permit research to make sure it’s allowed!
For National Parks and most state parks, you’ll need a Special Use Permit that allows you to hold your elopement ceremony. Pay attention to the specific rules that are in place for your desired location, and make sure you know how many people you can bring along, what hikes & locations are NOT permitted, and what’s prohibited.
Depending on the park, you might also need to get an individual hike permit. Typically, you won’t need a permit just for a day hike – they’re more for anybody who will be camping overnight. But it’s always good to look just in case!
Finally, make sure you know what permits your vendors will need to get for your location – typically this is your photographer, videographer, & officiant. I’ll be sure to guide you through what permit I’ll need to legally photograph your ceremony!
This is a huge one: do tons of research on weather ahead of time! Look at the average weather forecasts at your desired location throughout certain months/seasons, see what rainfall & snowfall are like, and consider what temperatures/conditions you’re up for.
One awesome app that you can use to look at weather and really get the specifics is Weather Underground! It gives you super accurate, pinpointed weather, and is especially helpful to use on the day-of when you’re looking at that day’s conditions. If we have a rainy day, we can use Weather Underground to try & see when there might be a break in the rain for a few photos outside, or when the best time will be to start heading down the mountain to get the best conditions!
Another great resource for researching climate is the National Park Service’s website. Look up average forecasts & conditions at any national park so that you can prepare for what to expect!
The NPS website is also an awesome resource for monitoring trail + road conditions in the weeks/days leading up to your elopement if you’re eloping at a National Park. And if you’re not eloping at a NP, check out the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) app/website instead! Having a hiking elopement means we have zero control of the conditions we’ll experience out in nature, and we’ve gotta completely surrender to mother nature.
Hiking in the mountains means there’s a variety of weather issues we could run into, from road closures due to icy conditions or flooding, to blocked-off trails due to early unexpected snowfall. You’ll want to monitor the road and trail conditions of your elopement location either through the NPS website or the WSDOT website, depending on your location. These are fantastic resources that give you super specific, current conditions that may impact your travel!
Piggybacking off that last one, because of the potential of bad weather or unexpected conditions, it’s important to find backup locations! Make sure that the elopement location you choose has other spots nearby that we could go to in case of obstacles beyond our control. It’s good to have at least 2-3 backup locations and ideas, because you truly never know what might happen!
Last but not least, when picking your hiking elopement location in Washington, make sure to keep your guests in mind! If you’ll be inviting loved ones along to your elopement ceremony, you need to choose somewhere that all your guests are able to get to without too much of a challenge. This will completely depend on the age, fitness ability, & comfort level of each guest, so you can consult with them before picking your location to see what they’re up for!
Hiking elopements come with plenty of opportunities for unexpected plan changes, and they can also be difficult to know how to plan for. Typical venue weddings are easier – just follow what the planner says! Hang your dress up in the bathroom, iron your suit right before you put it on, and don’t worry about your hair getting messed up on the 2-minute walk from the getting ready room to the ceremony site. But how tf do you prepare logistically for a hiking elopement??
Here are 3 of the planning logistics that most couples ask about before their hiking elopement!
This is probably the biggest question I hear: how do I hike with my wedding attire?! Nobody really teaches you what to do with your expensive suit/dress/outfit while you’re walking through miles of dirt to get to your ceremony location.
There are two main ways to do it:
Pack your dress/suit/outfit into a garment bag, like the one you might have received at the shop you bought it from. Then simply fold it up to fit into your backpack!
Pack your outfit into a garment bag, but instead of folding it up as small as you can, fold it up a couple times, hold it together with a bungee cord (or some type of twine/rope), and use a carabiner to clip it to the outside of your backpack!
Now to do either of these things, you’ll want to make sure you pick an outfit that doesn’t have 15 layers, thick material, or large pieces that you can’t fold up. I recommend picking something that’s lightweight, made out of a material that doesn’t get too wrinkled, and that you’ll be able to pack up smaller!
You can also bring travel-sized wrinkle spray along with you to get out any wrinkles at the last minute once you get to your location.
Onto hair & makeup, another service you pay for and may not know how to maintain during a hiking elopement!
Here are a few ways to make sure your hair & makeup stay as flawless as possible while you hike to your ceremony:
Next up: how the hell to carry your flowers on a hike with you!
Whether you’re doing a 1 mile or 8 mile hike, someone’s gonna have to carry your bouquet if you have one.
Here are a few ways to comfortably bring your bouquet along & make sure it stays safe + beautiful:
Hiking up to a pretty spot means you won’t be able to easily go back to your car/hotel and grab what you forgot. Here’s a packing list to make sure you’re prepared for anything + everything on your elopement day!
There you have it, my friend! Allll my best tips on how to have an epic hiking elopement in Washington State. I hope you feel more excited & prepared than ever to start planning your WA hiking wedding, and if you’re on the hunt for a Washington hiking elopement photographer/buddy who’s ready to come along with ya on your adventure, reach out here! I’m so ready 😉
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