A Hiking Map That's Got Heart

A "strenuous" Valentine's trek on Mount Diablo follows a festive shape.

SOME LOVERS... write their names in the sand at the beach, capping the eternal gesture with a giant heart drawn around both monikers. ("Eternal" in spirit, of course; when the tide arrives those names will become one with the sea.) Some lovers make heart patterns on grassy hillsides, symbolic gestures writ large courtesy of autumn leaves or the petals of wildflowers. And some, on rare occasion, go the skywriting route, the better to tell one and all of their abiding amour. But lovers ready for quite a "strenuous" hike, of 11.2 miles, on Valentine's Day 2016, will write a heart upon nature in a different way: They'll do it with their hiking boots.

AN OUTING ON MOUNT DIABLO, one that heads from the summit "down to the Falls Area along the Falls Trail and back up the mountain," will not only trek, elevation-wise, over 5,600 feet up, up, up (5,671 feet, to be exact); it'll trace a heart of sorts, at least in spirit and map-wise, upon the mountain. No actual trace will be left, of course, but if you check out hike number 32 in the recently released "Hiker's Guide to Mount Diablo State Park," you'll see there is a definite Cupid-ish shape to the not-just-for-Valentine's hike. If you and your honeybun hike a bunch, and you're up for the elevation change, and all of those miles, and you haven't got plans on Feb. 14, book your spot on the...

ROMANCING THE WATERFALLS HIKE: That's the official name of the guided hike, which will call upon waterfalls -- spoiler alert -- as well as features like Devil's Elbow and Bald Ridge Trail. And will some wildflowery petals make a showing, ahead of their springtime extravaganza? There may be some Valentine's magic in the air. After all, it isn't every day that one treks over eleven miles to create a heart of sorts, across a vast amount of mountainside and over several hours. Kind of puts sand hearts, made on the beach, in perspective. That said, we're hoping that sweethearts never, ever stop drawing hearts upon the sand, even if it takes a bit less time than hiking around a mountain in the shape of a trail heart.

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