Trail Difficulty Classification



Difficulty Ratings

    In addition to the rating explanations that follow, please take into consideration your own physical preparedness and the ability of the least experienced member of your party.



Hiking Trails

Basic Rating System
EASY ratings include short trips or mostly level terrain or both.
MODERATE ratings include longer trips, rougher terrain and some climbing.
DIFFICULT ratings include prolonged steep climbing or are longer and more remote. Previous experience will be helpful.
(From Adirondack Great Walks & Day Hikes: A Guide To Exploring "The Northeast's Last Great Wilderness" Published and Distributed by the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council. Web:

The Senderos Protege National Trail Project in Chile
This site serves as an example of a unique difficulty classification technique that is being implemented on the Chile national trail system. click here

The USDS Forest Service - Example Stanislaus National Forest, Hiking and Biking Trails
(From the Stanislaus National Park website, USDS Forest Service, 2002)
Ratings from Easy to Most Difficult, description of those who might be appropriate for use of each, no quantifable measurements.
Stanislaus National Park

Randonnee Adventure Hiking Trail, Montreal, Ontario
(From the Randonnee website, 2003)
Numerical rating system, quantified elevation gains and distances, no slope gradient available, terrain described as even, uneven to rough and scrambling.
Randonnee Adventure

Willamette National Forest Hiking Trail, Oregon
(From the U.S. Department of Agricluture Forest Service website, 2002)
Easy, Moderate to Difficult rating system with very specific measurements and descriptions.

Willamette National Forest



Off Road Vehicle Trails

Colorado and Utah - Off Road 4X4 Vehicle Trails - Standards for Trail Difficulty Ratings.
(From the Skid Plate website, 2001)
Ratings from 1-4 and 1-10, description of level of difficulty, some quantified measurements.

California Hungry Valley Trails, Off Road 4X4 Vehicle Trails
(From the Off Highway Vehicles website, State of California, 2000)
Ratings from easy to most difficult, no exact dimensions of trail character (slope gradient, narrow channels), recommendations for levels of riders.
Off Highway Vehicles difficulty ratings

Olympic 4X4 Supply, Snohomish, Wisconsin  Off Road Vehicle Trails
(From the Olympic 4X4 Supply website, 2003)
Ratings from 1 - 10 (10 most difficult), defined trail measurements and condition descriptions.
Olympic 4X4 Supply
Information compiled by Jaime Overy, 2003. 



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Last updated by Wesley Found on September 28, 2011.