Trip Rating System – NEW

Difficulty & Solitude Ratings

Learn more about our rating system to pick the perfect trip.

The Wildland rating systems are designed to help you pick the right trip in terms of safety and enjoyment. We offer two top-level ratings: Difficulty and Solitude. Additionally, Difficulty ratings have 5 subcategories explained below: Daily Hiking Distances, Daily Elevation Changes, Terrain, Backpack Weight and Exposure.

To understand the rating system, it’s important to keep several factors in mind:

  • Hiking is a physically demanding activity, regardless of the difficulty rating.
  • Our rating system assumes that all guests are starting from a foundation of being active, healthy people with good footing, strength and balance.
  • Please use this system as a guideline and if in doubt, start on a lower difficulty trip.
  • Backpacking trips are generally Difficulty Level 3 and above due to the heavier backpacks carried for multiple days on these trips.
  • Solitude ratings represent an average amount of solitude on a given trip over time. The number of people on a trail or hiking route can fluctuate based on temporary circumstances such as weekend vs. weekday, holidays, peak traveling seasons, weather forecasts/conditions and more.

Training Recommendations

5 Difficulty Sub-Criteria

Hiking Distances

Hiking DistanceS

RATING DESCRIPTION
Daily hiking distances of up to 4 miles.
Daily hiking distances of up to 6 miles.
Daily hiking distances of up to 8 miles.
Daily hiking distances of up to 10 miles.
Daily hiking distances of up to 12+ miles.

Max Daily Elevation Change

Max Daily Elevation Change

RATING DESCRIPTION
Daily elevation gains and/or losses of up to 250 feet
Daily elevation gains and/or losses of up to 750 feet
Daily elevation gains and/or losses of up to 2000 feet
Daily elevation gains and/or losses of up to 3000 feet
Daily elevation gains and/or losses of up to 4000+ feet

Terrain

TERRAIN

RATING DESCRIPTION

Mostly paved or boardwalk hiking trails

Lightly Rugged. Maintained dirt and rock trails with well built steps

Moderately Rugged. Unmaintained trails made of dirt, rock and sand, may include off-trail hiking

Significantly Rugged. Mainly off trail and can include steep, loose and/or slippery sections

Extremely Rugged. Entirely off trail, may involve scrambling with hands and feet on very steep terrain

Backpack Weight

BACKPACK WEIGHT

RATING DESCRIPTION
10-15 pounds
15-25 pounds
25-35 pounds
30-40 pounds
35-45 pounds

Heights Exposure

Heights EXPOSURE

RATING DESCRIPTION

No Heights Exposure

Light Exposure. Cliffs edges or drop-offs 10+ feet away

Moderate Exposure. Cliff edges or drop-offs 4-9 feet away

Significant Exposure. Cliff edges or drop-offs 2-3 feet away

Extreme Exposure. Walking next to or on cliff edges and drop-offs

DIFFICULTY RATINGS Explained

Our Difficulty Ratings are based on a scale of 1-5 (1 is the least difficult, 5 is the most difficult).

The overall difficulty rating of a trip is based on the average of 5 factors: Daily Hiking Distances, Max Daily Elevation Change, Terrain (Ruggedness), Backpack Weight and Heights Exposure. In the tables above you can see the characteristics each difficulty level represents for these different factors.


Example 1

Example 1 trip has the following ratings:

  • Daily Hiking Distance: 5
  • Max Daily Elevation Change: 2
  • Terrain: 2
  • Backpack Weight: 4
  • Heights Exposure: 1
  • Overall Difficulty: 3

The character of this trip is a multi-day backpacking adventure with very long, full-day hikes on maintained, mostly level hiking trails, with a 30-40 pound backpack and very little heights exposure.


Example 2

Example 2 trip has the following ratings:

  • Daily Hiking Distance: 1
  • Max Daily Elevation Change: 5
  • Terrain: 4
  • Backpack Weight: 2
  • Heights Exposure: 4
  • Overall Difficulty: 3

Although this is also a Level 3 Difficulty trip, the character is very different from Example 1. Because of the light backpack weight, we know this trip is an inn-based tour, basecamp trip, day hike or a porter/stock supported trip. It would feature short daily hikes (2-4 miles) on rugged, off-trail terrain, with drop-offs or cliff edges 2-4 feet away at times.


If you need or want more information about what is physically required to join a trip, we also recommend referring to our Essential Eligibility Requirements.

SOLITUDE RATINGS Explained

Our Solitude Ratings are based on a scale of 1-5, tours with a 1 rating having the least amount of solitude, tours with a 5 rating having the most.

1 – Expect to be around other hikers and travelers most of the time.

2 – Expect to have some solitude, as much as an hour at a time without seeing other groups.

3 – Expect hours of solitude at a time.

4 – Expect to see no more than one or two groups per day.

5 – Expect to see only a group or two over the entire duration of your trip.