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Hike Grading Scale

Hiking trails are graded with a letter and a number to help assess physical and technical difficulty. This is the same grading scale used by the Kootenay Mountaineering Club.

Physical Difficulty

AEasy, less than four hours of travel, little elevation gain.
B Moderate, 4 to 6 hours of travel, 400 to 600 metres (1300 - 2000 ft) of elevation gain.
C Strenuous, 6 to 8 hours of travel, 600 to 1000 metres (2000 – 3300 ft) of elevation gain.
DVery strenuous, over 8 hours of travel, more than 1000 metres (3300 ft) of elevation gain.
E Extended, multi-day trip.

Technical Difficulty

1Hike, on trail
2Scramble, off trail
3Scramble, with some exposure

Example: Pulpit Rock

The Pulpit Rock trail near Nelson is 3.6km return with a 338m elevation gain. The entire hike is along a trail. It would be rated as an A1 for an easy hike, but note that the elevation gain is steep over the short distance!

Example: Old Glory

Old Glory Mountain near Rossland is 17km round trip with a big 1145m gain. The entire hike is along a trail and takes about 7 hours so I would rate this a C1.

Assess Your Ability

Always assess your own ability. The hike grading scale provides a general idea of the physical and technical demands of a trail, but trails that are easy for experienced hikers may be challenging for new hikers.

If you’re new to hiking, start with some easier A1 or B1 trails.