There are 3 things you need to consider when contemplating how difficult a hike might be for you:
1) Elevation- you may look at a hike that is 5 km and think that it will be easy because it's short, however, if there is a 900m elevation gain then you will basically be going straight up. Elevation gain is ultimately my deciding factor determine how hard a hike will be.
2) Distance - distance is somewhat relative because if you are walking 1km on a city sidewalk it might take you 10min, but in the mountains you could be looking at an hour, it all depends on the elevation gain as said above.
3) Route Finding -  some trails are well marked and trodden down, some aren't. Those that aren't may require more confidence and skill to ensure you don't get lost.

On this page is the description of how I rank the hikes that I do. What I have noticed in my readings is that the difficulty ranking of a hike is only relative to the writer. My stamina is not the same as an Olympic athlete and so what he or she may rank as easy I might find really strenuous. You will find that when you research different hikes the same one may be described at several different levels. So how do you know which one is right? Well, the truth is there is no ‘right’ one. My suggestion is just to try to find out more about who wrote the review so you know how you can relate.

So let me premise my rankings by letting you know how you should interpret this scale I’ve created!
I am a late 20s female under 5’5, of an average build. I work a desk job, I go to the gym a couple times a week, but I dislike cardio because all my life I have had no endurance in me. Thus much uphill and long distances cause me to tire easily. I find that yes I can do hikes with lots of elevation gain, but it takes much longer because I need to rest a lot. So I tend to stick to hikes that are under 700m elevation gain and/or less than 15km.    

I should also throw in the consideration that these are hikes in the mountains. Which means it’s a given that it will automatically be harder than walking from your house to the coffee shop. You will not be walking on a paved pathway, there will be rocks and roots, it will get muddy, icy, and slippery, the path may be narrow, and there may be other obstacles like fallen tree trunks or a creek in your way. Plus remember that if you are expecting an amazing view there will always be some incline to get there. I will try and let you know these specifics in my guides, but do know that when the ranking starts at ‘easy’ it’s already a step up from city walking J

I think that covers it, it might take you a few hikes to know where you stand, as it did me, but now I think I’ve got myself figured out and so I hope this helps you out too!

Marcel the Shell :)

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