May 23, 2024

Difficulty Levels

The below ratings are based on hiking conditions in Virginia and surrounding states – i.e. trail terrain, elevation gain, typical weather conditions, etc.  Hikers should take into account their own capabilities and limitations and make adjustments accordingly.  Also bear in mind a “challenging” hike could quickly become strenuous or even very strenuous in extreme weather or poor trail conditions.

Easy – Easy hikes are suitable for all ages and experience levels.  Hikes are on trails that are flat, graded, and well established. No route finding skills are needed, and the trail is usually well marked so it’s almost impossible to get lost.  These are great for beginners and new members.  Dogs are welcome on some of these, but be sure to check the event description.  Many of our sunset hikes fall into this category.

Moderate – Moderate hikes are a step up from easy, as they may include modest elevation change and some uneven terrain.  No experience or special gear needed, but hikers should be in reasonably good shape, wear proper attire, and bring water.

Challenging – Challenging hikes involve some rugged terrain and are often in remote locations.  Expect to spend several hours on the trail.  Elevation gain is typically less than 1,000 feet and may be steep at times.  If you are looking to transition into mountain hiking, these hikes are a good place to start.  Hikers should be in good physical condition and wear proper attire.  A day pack with water, food, first aid supplies is strongly recommended.

Strenuous – Strenuous hikes usually involve rugged, mountainous terrain.  Expect to encounter steep elevation gains of 1,000-2,000 feet or more, stream crossings, and minor rock scrambles.  Hikers should be experienced, in good shape, wear proper hiking attire, be equipped with proper hiking gear, and prepared to get a workout.

Very Strenuous – Hikes in this category are the toughest in Virginia.  These are long-distance hikes on rocky, mountainous terrain with extended sections of steep elevation gain that may exceed 2,000 feet.  Expect to get wet and dirty on stream crossings and rock scrambles.  Trails are in remote areas and may not be well marked or maintained.  Hikers should be experienced, in excellent physical condition, wear proper attire, and carry the necessary hiking gear.