The HWD Hike Rating Guide


The following ratings are to be used as a general guideline to determine the difficulty of my hike. They are based on the regular hiker that is reasonably fit and my 16 years of leading hikes.  I hope you find my rating system more meaningful and relevant to your hiking level than the usual 1-10 numerical rating, or ambiguous terms like “beginner,” “advanced,” etc.

There are two types of ratings: Technical and Fitness.

Technical Rating


All of our hikes are at a BEGINNER technical level and no special or technical equipment is ever needed. While the occasional use of hands are necessary, I do not lead any hikes that requires scrambling above long drop-offs, or with ropes or chains. Rock scrambling is limited to Class 2 (Difficult walking, hands required at some spots). Thus, I do not include the technical rating in my hike descriptions.

Fitness Rating


Day hikes covering mostly level terrain and mild inclines. No difficult trail. Generally less than five miles total.


Day hikes covering a variety of terrain, with a few steep or difficult areas, but no prolonged steep grades or difficult terrain, and generally between five and ten miles in length total (or shorter hikes with more difficult terrain).


Longer day hikes up to ten miles and more total length, and/or covering terrain that contains prolonged steep or difficult stretches (a short hike could be rated difficult if the terrain is such), or a bushwhack hike of any mileage covering difficult terrain.


Sometimes you will see a plus sign (+) after a rating. This means the rating is between one rating and the next rating. For example MEDIUM+ indicates a rating between MEDIUM and DIFFICULT.