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, Backpack Weight, Terrain, Daily Elevation Gain 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.
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 aggregate of 5 factors: Daily Hiking Distances, Backpack Weight, Terrain (Ruggedness), Max Daily Elevation Gain and Heights Exposure. In the tables below you can see the characteristics each difficulty level represents for these different factors.
5 Difficulty Sub-Criteria
|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 more than 10 miles.|
|8-12 pounds (day hikes, basecamp and inn-based tours)|
|10-20 pounds (llama trips, hut to hut treks)|
|25-35 pounds (3-4 day backpacks without special equipment or dry camps)|
|35-45 pounds (5-6 day backpacks, or shorter trips with special equipment or dry camps)|
|45+ pounds (7+ day backpacks, or shorter trips with special equipment or dry camps)|
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
Max Daily Elevation Gain
Max Daily Elevation Gain
|Daily elevation gains of up to 250 feet|
|Daily elevation gains of up to 750 feet|
|Daily elevation gains of up to 2000 feet|
|Daily elevation gains of up to 3000 feet|
|Daily elevation gains of more than 3000 feet|
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
Notice that the below examples are both Level 3 difficulty, but they have very different character as explained:
Example 1 trip has the following ratings:
- Daily Hiking Distances: 5
- Backpack Weight: 4
- Terrain: 2
- Max Daily Elevation Gain: 2
- 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 35-45 pound backpack and very little heights exposure.
Example 2 trip has the following ratings:
- Daily Hiking Distances: 1
- Backpack Weight: 2
- Terrain: 4
- Max Daily Elevation Gain: 5
- Heights Exposure: 4
- Overall Difficulty: 3
Although this is also a Level 3 Difficulty trip, the character is very different from Example 1. It would have relatively light backpacks (10-20 lbs), feature short daily hikes (2-4 miles) on rugged, off-trail terrain, with drop-offs or cliff edges 2-4 feet away at times.
More on Physical Requirements
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.