Rating trails is at best a difficult process, confused by subjective rating criteria, and impacted by individual fitness levels. However, despite the limitations of such a guide in helping hikers determine if a hike is right for them, it at the very least gives some guidance to enthusiasts. The trail rating developed for Happy Hikers was established for a generally fit and acclimated individual. Unlike some other clubs that cater to highly fit hikers, our trail ratings take the generally fit individual as the standard.
Club members and their guests are expected to carefully consider the trail rating established for the hike they are considering, and make an honest evaluation of their fitness before deciding to sign up for a hike. We recommend hiking with our group on a moderate hike first. A leader may require that an easier hike be completed with our group prior to allowing you on a difficult outing, particularly for hikes at high altitudes.
Any questions regarding the hike being considered should be addressed with the hike leader. The hike leader makes the final decision as to whether to accept or reject club members or their guests’ request to participate in a club sponsored hike. Remember that our mutual goal is for you to enjoy your hike.
HOW HIKES ARE RATED
The hike leader sets the trail rating based upon four major criteria, to include: (1) distance of the hike; (2) starting elevation of the hike; (3) highest elevation reached on the hike; and, (4) trail hazards. The trail ratings include: (1) Easy; (2) Moderate; and (3) Difficult. Trail ratings are defined as follows:
Easy: Hikes rated as easy are commonly of shorter distance (normally not over 4 miles), include little elevation gain (generally not to exceed 500’), and would include only minor trail hazards.
Moderate: Hikes rated as moderate are commonly middle ranged distances (5-6 miles), include modest elevation gains (generally between 501’ and 1000’), and could include minor/moderate trail hazards.
Difficult: Hikes rated as difficult are generally longer (6 miles or longer), include greater elevation gains (over 1000’) and could include minor/moderate trail hazards. The hike could also include scrambling over steep terrain. The use of hands might be required for balance and upward movement, but little technical movement is employed. Holds will generally be obvious and plentiful. Check with your hike leader should you have any questions, or concerns.