1. Share Some Powder
Love birds by day, powder hounds by night: Hit the slopes of one of Western North Carolina’s ski resorts after dark for an out-of-the-ordinary romantic excursion. Most ski resorts offer both twilight (usually 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.) and night (6 p.m. to 10 p.m.) passes for discovery of the distinct pleasures of skiing and snowboarding after sundown. Although the main trails are brightly lit, the real fun begins when you and your sweetie duck into the trees and find the powder stashes that are illuminated only by starlight.
2. Picnic on the Parkway
A picnic on the Blue Ridge Parkway requires very little planning, which makes it a perfect spur-of-the-moment romantic outing. Simply choose which phenomenal view you’d like to share (we recommend Looking Glass Rock Overlook at Milepost 417, which also happens to be the trailhead for Skinny Dip Falls) or cruise the parkway and take your pick of breathtakingly beautiful overlooks.
3. Camp Out at Crabtree Falls
Take a tiny vacation to the Crabtree Falls & Meadows Recreation Area, home of the gorgeous, 70-foot Crabtree Falls, one of the most photogenic landscapes near Asheville. Spend the night in one of the small, rustic cabins at the Crabtree Falls Campground. Then, make the easy, three mile out-and-back hike to the falls first thing in the morning. Bring a thermos of coffee to share with your sweetheart and watch as the first rays of sun penetrate the forest and illuminate the gauzy veil of water. If you’re an early riser, you may have that marvelous sight all to yourself.
4. Watch the Sunset from Linville Gorge
With all the artistic allure of sunrise, but without the painful wake-up time, sunset is time of reflection, serenity, and romance. As the sun sinks and the sky erupts in colors, the world grows cold very quickly. Make sure and throw a blanket in your backpack so you can wrap it around the both of you, and pack a thermos of hot tea to share.
A dramatic spot to witness the closing of day is from the summit of Hawksbill Mountain in the Linville Gorge Wilderness. Some 2,000 feet above the canyon floor, perch at the edge of the rock outcrop, and take in the view that stretches across the gorge to Table Rock and Grandfather Mountain. Remember to pack a couple of headlamps for the 1.5 mile descent back to the car.
5. Take in the Stars at Graveyard Fields
If you’re truly looking to impress, treat your certain someone to the best stargazing in all of North Carolina. Graveyard Fields, a high valley in the heart of the Great Balsam Range, is best known for its hiking trails that meander through mountain laurels, blueberry thickets, and rhododendrons and provide the perfect overlook for two waterfalls that tumble down the Yellowstone Prong. In the evening, however, after most of the visitors have packed up and headed home, the settling darkness unveils a whole new realm of natural beauty above the quiet meadow.
Folded away in the Blue Ridge and far from the city lights of Asheville and Hendersonville, the sky above Graveyard Fields is one of the best places in the Southeast to view the Milky Way. And while this may be a lofty claim, that diamond-white spray of stars is arguably the most romantic spectacle in all of the visible cosmos.
6. Ride the Point Lookout Greenway Bike Trail
If you want to keep it casual with a brand new love interest, take a fun and flirty ride on the Point Lookout Greenway Bike Trail. This paved greenway, surrounded by Pisgah National Forest, makes for a pleasant eight mile out-and-back ride (including the half-mile dash from the parking area at the picnic area near Old Fort). If you choose to cruise together on a tandem bike, be warned that the trail gains 900 feet of elevation in 3.6 miles, so get ready for some teamwork.
7. Escape for the Weekend
Just because you’re a permanent resident of the Blue Ridge Mountains doesn’t mean you can’t play tourist from time to time. Surprise your partner by a one-of-a-kind cabin or yurt and sweeping him or her away from the ubiquitous demands real life. Hide away at a rustic riverside cabin or indulge in the luxuries of a fancy mountainside cottage. A weekend of fresh views, hot-tub soaks, and some new perspective on a familiar landscape will do you both a world of good. Sometimes, even the most steadfast relationships need a little change of scenery.
Featured image provided by Caleb Ekeroth