Hiking Trail Difficulty Rating System

by Manidoo | Last Updated: August 29, 2022

This is a custom-made hiking trail difficulty rating system. The purpose is to explain to hikers a trail’s level of difficulty. Remember to always bring your 10 Essentials when hiking. For more information on hiking, check out Hiking for Beginners: How You Can Get Started Today!

Hiking Trail Difficulty What to Expect
Novice
  • Completely paved trail
  • Entirely or mostly flat
  • Can be completed in any attire. No special gear needed
Easy
  • Unpaved trail, mostly light terrain
  • Has changes in elevation, but nothing strenuous
  • Some gear recommended: Light backpack, walking shoes/proper footwear, appropriate outdoor clothing
  • Typically a short day hike
Intermediate
  • Unpaved trail, moderate terrain
  • Frequent changes in elevation
  • Recommended to bring good hiking gear: A daypack, fitted hiking boots and non-cotton socks, extra food and water, all previously mentioned gear
  • Typically a long day hike
Advanced
  • Unpaved. This will likely require some climbing and careful careful footing
  • Frequent changes in elevation, strenuous
  • Recommended gear: A multi-day back, overnight equipment, emergency gear(i.e. weather protection, survival pack), all previously mentioned gear
  • Typically a couple of days to hike to complete
Expert
  • Unpaved trail. This will require a good level of fitness to complete
  • Likely includes high changes in elevation
  • Recommended gear: Likely area-specific/situation-specific equipment, all previously mentioned gear
  • Typically several days to weeks to complete
Master
  • Unpaved trail. This will require a very high level of fitness to complete
  • High changes in elevation, likely require special training beforehand to complete
  • Recommended gear: Any specific gear required for the trek, all previously mentioned gear
  • Risk of death