Trail Rating Guidelines

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satillayakker
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Trail Rating Guidelines

Post by satillayakker » Oct 23 2013 10:33 am

Can anyone out there shed any light on ANY trail rating guidelines. Example: This trail is "strenuous" or "5" etc.
Here is the reason I ask:
I have hiked a good number of trails. Some I knew the "rating", some I did not. The ones I knew the rating for, seemed to lack any criteria for the rating other than the rater's opinion. I have found that those opinions are somewhat skewed one way or another. I have hiked trails rated as very difficult, strenuous, 5 of 5, 10 of 10, "don't ever hike this or you die", etc. and find them to be not very hard at all. Some have been extremely hard. I have hiked some rated easy, 1 of 5, "toddler", "pansy", etc. and find them to be the "don't ever hike or you die" trails and sometimes rated about right. I have seen MANY different scales, depending on where it is being rated, and have noticed that sometimes the trails are rated drastically different. This is even the case among some hikers who consider themselves about the same experience level. I know that a trail will be tougher or easier from hiker to hiker, skill to skill, but shouldn't the trail be just "rated" and not rated to coincide with the particular rater's skill, fitness, knowledge, feelings that particular day, etc.? This rating diversity has in the past led me to decide not to hike some trails I wish I had, and even some I decided to hike later to find out they were not so bad, even for an outa-shape "one-in-a-whiler" like me. Maybe I have overlooked the HAZ rating criteria, if so, I apologize. Oh, and where may I find it?

So I bring my quest to the great table of hiking wisdom; Is there a standardized rating system out there anywhere for the vast network of hikers on the numerous forums and clubs? Has there ever been one? What are some criteria you guys use to rate and how does it "convert" from rating system to system? Granted, I will likely do as I have for the past few years and hike them anyway!!! (I have tried to search the forums on this, but for some reason I can't see older posts....)

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BobP
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Re: Trail Rating Guidelines

Post by BobP » Oct 23 2013 11:17 am

One man's toxic sludge is another man's potpourri....The Grinch

That was the first quote that came to my mind when I read your post. Probably doesn't help you much though :)
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Al_HikesAZ
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Re: Trail Rating Guidelines

Post by Al_HikesAZ » Oct 23 2013 11:25 am

gsp416dre wrote:. . . Maybe I have overlooked the HAZ rating criteria, if so, I apologize. Oh, and where may I find it?

So I bring my quest to the great table of hiking wisdom; Is there a standardized rating system out there anywhere for the vast network of hikers on the numerous forums and clubs? Has there ever been one? What are some criteria you guys use to rate and how does it "convert" from rating system to system? Granted, I will likely do as I have for the past few years and hike them anyway!!! (I have tried to search the forums on this, but for some reason I can't see older posts....)
Look at my Article here on HAZ "How Hard was that Hike" http://hikearizona.com/article.php?ID=25&O=0

"HAZ Quasi" became "Kokopelli Seeds" and is calculated and displayed in the HAZ Hike Statistics Box for those in the know - which now you are.
Anybody can make a hike harder. The real skill comes in making the hike easier.
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hippiepunkpirate
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Re: Trail Rating Guidelines

Post by hippiepunkpirate » Oct 23 2013 11:36 am

BobP wrote:Probably doesn't help you much though
This statement should be included at the end of every post you make Bob :sl:
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chumley
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Re: Trail Rating Guidelines

Post by chumley » Oct 23 2013 11:40 am

What Bob said. : app :

Seriously, I think the answer is quite simply no. Even in climbing where there are recognized rating standards, the ratings of routes deviate based on who gives the rating or the general location of the route.

My best advice is not to look at just the rating (and the experience level of description's author who assigned it), but read the triplogs. I like to look at time data a lot of times to see how long it took for various people to do the hike. That gives me a better understanding of a trail's difficulty.
Profound observer

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BobP
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Re: Trail Rating Guidelines

Post by BobP » Oct 23 2013 11:49 am

@hippiepunkpirate
That was awesome :y:

I think the Grinch quote is appropriate though....I think any hiking formula is just too subjective and therefore becomes flawed. Looking at the Supes ridgeline and the 4 Peaks motherlode.... the seeds rating are about the same. I think the ML is way more difficult but maybe thats just me. Hiking like most things in life...you need to find out for yourself. Guidelines are fine but experience is what matters most.
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Always pronounce Egeszsegedre properly......
If you like this triplog you must be a friend of BrunoP

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Al_HikesAZ
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Re: Trail Rating Guidelines

Post by Al_HikesAZ » Oct 23 2013 11:51 am

chumley wrote:My best advice is not to look at just the rating (and the experience level of description's author who assigned it), but read the triplogs. I like to look at time data a lot of times to see how long it took for various people to do the hike. That gives me a better understanding of a trail's difficulty.
Great advice. Trail conditions can change and aren't reflected in the statistics. A microburst on the Mount Baldy Loop knocked over at least 100 trees across the trail. A normally pleasant hike became an adventure. http://hikearizona.com/trip=14284
Anybody can make a hike harder. The real skill comes in making the hike easier.
Not if we can help it UNCLE JACK. http://www.sleepingdogtv.com/reel/Uncle-Jack.aspx Not if we can help it.

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satillayakker
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Re: Trail Rating Guidelines

Post by satillayakker » Oct 23 2013 12:23 pm

Ah, trail conditions, ie rain , time of day, trees, rock slides, squatches, etc. are things I had not considered.

I have to agree with Chum that the triplogs are extrememly useful, where HAZ is concerned and I can find them for a particular trail. However, not so much for me, here. I am finding that MANY of our trails here are on the HAZ list , but not usually any triplogs or descriptions (I am working on that though!! :D ), so I go to other sites, which don't readily have the same detail in triplogs. (Usually its, I went and hiked this trail and it was a 5, or something like that...)

Thanks for the link to that article Al! It is extremely informative. Now I can somewhat understand what some hikers mean when they use a rating system that I go like, "huh?".

Bob, you are right on with the experience. That is why I have ignored the ratings altogether for quite some time. I hiked a trail that someone called "technical" only after a friend talked me in to it. Turns out, their rating was very flawed!!! So, henceforth, I hiked the trail regardless. Sometimes good, sometimes not so much.

Anyway, any more thoughts on the subject are greatly welcomed!!

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hippiepunkpirate
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Re: Trail Rating Guidelines

Post by hippiepunkpirate » Oct 23 2013 12:34 pm

chumley wrote:My best advice is not to look at just the rating (and the experience level of description's author who assigned it), but read the triplogs. I like to look at time data a lot of times to see how long it took for various people to do the hike. That gives me a better understanding of a trail's difficulty.
You nailed it Todd. For me at this point, I can look at the mileage and AEG of an on-trail hike and gauge how difficult it will be for me based on my current fitness and past experiences. The off-trail adventures that involve any perceivable combination of bush-whacking, route-finding, exposure, rock-climbing, ect. I think are really hard to judge based strictly on vital stats of mileage, AEG, and someone else's arbitrary rating.

Bob made an interesting statement:
BobP wrote:Looking at the Supes ridgeline and the 4 Peaks motherlode.... the seeds rating are about the same. I think the ML is way more difficult but maybe thats just me.
I think Bob's personal assessment of ML > Ridgeline would be accurate for the vast majority of hikers. Where it could get fuzzy is if someone is a really experienced rock climber but has never done a hike longer than 6-7 miles. They might be super-comfortable with the exposure and route-finding on Four Peaks, but find that the longer hiking length of the Ridgeline pushes them to the edge.

It really comes down to knowing your personal weaknesses and seeking out information to find out if a certain hike/adventure will expose your weaknesses to the point past your comfort.

For instance, I have some knee problems so I don't feel comfortable doing more than 15 miles in a day, or doing multiple days of a backpacking trip with each day exceeding 11-12 miles, especially if I haven't been incredibly active in recent months or if the adventure is in a really remote and rugged area that would make an injury extremely dangerous. I also don't do so well with certain situations of exposing rock climbing, and will usually attempt to find as much information I can if planning something involving such instances, especially if there is no way around an exposed climb. When I did the Boucher Trail, I was concerned about exposure having read that Boucher had a nasty spot that required lowering your pack, so I took a rope with me. The spot turned out to be nothing, but I was glad I had prepared just in case. In contrast, I turned away from Brown's Peak because the exposure freaked me out, yet after reading triplog after triplog, the climb didn't seem to be a big deal to anyone else.
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BobP
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Re: Trail Rating Guidelines

Post by BobP » Oct 23 2013 1:10 pm

hippiepunkpirate wrote: Brown's Peak because the exposure freaked me out
:y: But you conquered the Flatiron which has a 30 percent higher seed content and about the same mileage. :y:
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Always pronounce Egeszsegedre properly......
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imike
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Re: Trail Rating Guidelines

Post by imike » Mar 20 2014 3:31 pm

We continue to have folks show up for hikes that they are not prepared for... I'm getting a bit tired of having to tote out the bodies (...sort of just kidding there...) We are developing a hike rating calculator specific to our area, but until then plan to use this one developed for trails in the Pacific Northwest, with some adjustment factors:

Off Trail x 1.2
Class One Canyoneering x 1.5
Class Two Canyoneering x1.7

The totals seem to reflect that many if not most of our routes fall into the more difficult ranges... and they likely do.

I'd like to have feedback (real feedback...) on aspects that might make the evaluations more accurate.

We are also developing a comparative standard using one of our local peaks wherein folks can go hike it, note their time... and get an idea of how well they will do on any of our routes. That tends to evaluate the hiker more than the hike; it may be the more relevant gauge.

Hike Calculator: http://www.nwhiker.com/HikeEval.html
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friendofThundergod
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Re: Trail Rating Guidelines

Post by friendofThundergod » Mar 20 2014 4:06 pm

@imike
Too much math for a social studies teacher, but cool concept, I can see some merit in your method..still so many variables that simply can't be factored in...

You say tired of "Toting out the bodies"

Maybe leave a few out there next time, word will get out...group sizes should decrease exponentially...:)

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imike
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Re: Trail Rating Guidelines

Post by imike » Mar 20 2014 4:50 pm

friendofThundergod wrote:@imike


Maybe leave a few out there next time, word will get out...group sizes should decrease exponentially...:)
We use a simple head count method... does not have to be the same heads we started in with... just the same number... :o
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Sredfield
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Re: Trail Rating Guidelines

Post by Sredfield » Mar 21 2014 7:45 pm

I try for an 80% return rate--variation of the 80/20 rule.

Seriously, the Sierra Club has a pretty good rating system that incorporates elevation gain and distance.

Outings Ratings:
Outings are rated for degree of difficulty and risk by the leader. As a guideline, outings are classified as follows: 'A' - More than 16 miles or more than 3,000 feet elevation change. 'B' - 8 to 16 miles and between 1,500-3,000 feet elevation change. 'C' - 3 to 8 miles, 500-1,500 feet elevation change. 'D' - Less than 3 miles and 500 feet elevation change.
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Jim_H
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Re: Trail Rating Guidelines

Post by Jim_H » Mar 22 2014 9:40 am

Devise a rating system all you like, but if people ( and they will) continue to ignore the posted description which already covers miles, elevation gain, terrain, and so on, it won't do any good. These meetup groups are famous for having unqualified and unprepared people turn out. Yubao coddles them, I prefer to tell people to not come, or to describe something has harsh to keep people from coming. Then again, the last one I "hosted" had someone show up with Yubao, after signing up for the hike at 1 in the morning. Not much you can do about that, except stop posting hikes.
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imike
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Re: Trail Rating Guidelines

Post by imike » Mar 22 2014 3:09 pm

@Jim_H
yep... we had someone show without signing up or asking about the hike... then they were mad it turned out to be so hard... Now, we are beginning each hike description on the Meetup events calendar with both details of difficulty... and... a comparative fitness standard. If they care, they can get a good idea of what it might be like... some will... some will continue to show up and suffer.
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RowdyandMe
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Re: Trail Rating Guidelines

Post by RowdyandMe » Mar 22 2014 8:18 pm

I really like the HAZ rating system. It helps me alot when I plan a hike. I think sometimes people need to read the whole description and a few triplogs. I know some of the longer hikes are rated a 5 just because of the distance vs how techincal it can be.
When I do a long hike that I never done before I look through triplogs around the same month as I am doing it. This helps a lot as it gives me a better idea of what to expect. With that I load my gear accordingly to have the right supplies which seems to be more than I need. Better safe than sorry.
I know the Superstition Ridgeline is rated a 5. Well it is a 5 in August and maybe 3.5 in January.
So people keep posting your triplogs as I read a few of them before every hike and of cousrse I also read the water reports as well.
Thats my :M2C:
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Al_HikesAZ
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Re: Trail Rating Guidelines

Post by Al_HikesAZ » Mar 22 2014 9:18 pm

Widowmaker wrote:. . .Well it is a 5 in August and maybe 3.5 in January. So people keep posting your triplogs as I read a few of them before every hike and of cousrse I also read the water reports as well.Thats my :M2C:
It can be a 5+ in January with snow & ice. I think Joe has some photos of extreme weather on Flatiron. And it is more than a 5 in August depending on the temps. I like your comment, but I had to take issue with this. HAZ has info for the forecast for the hike but you have to learn how to get the most out of HAZ.
Anybody can make a hike harder. The real skill comes in making the hike easier.
Not if we can help it UNCLE JACK. http://www.sleepingdogtv.com/reel/Uncle-Jack.aspx Not if we can help it.

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