How to Determine Hiking Difficulty
Are you newer to hiking or maybe haven't even hiked at all yet? Are you unsure about how to start planning for your trail adventures? First order of business is to plan a hike based on your skill level.
Trekking can be as easy or challenging as you need it to be. Hiking difficulty rating are categorized in five levels: easy, moderate, moderately strenuous, very strenuous, and hard. These levels are determined by a combination of distance and elevation gain. Some locations will give a numerical rating as well.
Easy - Numerical rating less than 50. Suitable for anyone that enjoys walking. Terrain is mostly flat or has slight elevation gain. Under 3 miles. Average pace is 1.5 mph.
Moderate - Numerical rating 50-100. Suitable for a beginner hiker wanting a challenge. Terrain has slight elevation gain with a mix of steeper sections. 3-5 miles. Average pace is 1.4 mph.
Moderately Strenuous - Numerical rating 100-150. Challenging to the unconditioned person. Terrain has a steady elevation gain and frequent steeper sections. 5-8 miles. Average pace is 1.3 mph.
Very Strenuous - Numerical rating 150-200. Challenging to most hikers. Terrain has intense elevation gain and steeper sections. 7-10 miles. Average pace is 1.2 mph.
Hard - Numerical rating over 200. Suitable for conditioned, prepared, and experienced hikers. Terrain is steep and elevation gain is constant involving scrambling, stream crossing, and more rigorous features to maneuver. Typically over 8 miles. Average pace is 1.1 mph or less.
With so much accessible information on the internet, there are several apps and websites to visit. Be sure to utilize these resources while researching your next adventure. Here are a few suggestions for researching resources:
- Boise foothills - Ridge to Rivers website
- All Trails App (personal favorite)
- Hiking Project App
- Gaia GPS App
- PeakVisor App
These apps give you trail difficulty rating, average duration, elevation gain, total distance, directions to trailhead, and more.
Don't forget to carry the basics, at least 8-10oz water for every expected hour of trip and snacks you know you'll eat. We roll the dice every time we recreate outdoors especially the farther we go into the backcountry. With that said, carry an outdoor med kit to sustain your stay in the elements.
Stay safe. Stay wild, my friends!
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