Hiking With Dog

#TrailTip Tuesday: Difficulty Level

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Almost all of my trail write-ups include Difficulty Rating in the stats so you can decide if the hike is right for your fitness level. So what does each of the levels really mean?

Keep in mind that not all hiking blogs and websites use the same rating system. That means the same hike can be rated Moderate by one site and Challenging by another.

I use a calculator created by Northwest Hiker to grade the difficulty level. Here is the description of the 6-level rating system I adopted and have been using in my trail write-ups.

Difficulty Level Description
Easy *young and elderly
*someone in fair hiking condition
*trails are generally in good condition
*very little elevation gain
Moderate *someone in good hiking condition
*trails are generally in good condition
*increased mileage
*moderate elevation gain
Challenging *someone in good hiking condition
*trails are generally in good condition
*increased mileage
*significant elevation gain
Difficult *someone in excellent hiking condition
*trails are generally in good condition
*significant increase in mileage
*significant increase in elevation gain
Very Difficult *someone in excellent hiking condition
*trails are not always in good condition
*significant increase in mileage
*significant increase in elevation gain
Extreme *someone in exceptional hiking/climbing condition
*trails are not always available
*significant increase in mileage
*extreme elevation gain
*technical aspects of the hike

I like this rating better than a simple 3 (Easy/Moderate/Difficult) or 4-level system because it helps me to set realistic expectations and pack better.

For example, for challenging (and up) hikes, I download the hiking route ahead. When/if the trail disappears on me all of a sudden, that way I generally know which direction I need to go and for how long until I find the trail again. It’s one thing to be lost during a 4-mile hike, but it’s another thing to be lost during a 9-mile hike when you are already tired.

There you have it. You no longer need to guess what each level means!

Get Our Latest Comprehensive Dog-friendly Trail List Here. Enjoy!

Happy Hiking!

 

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