What Are The Three Different Levels Of Hiking Trails Offered? | Hikers University

When you are setting out to hike, you usually plan about the sort of shoes that you can wear, what route to take and what gear to pack (if any).

If you are a person who thoroughly likes to study their hiking trails beforehand, you probably must have gone across the phrase “ different levels of hiking trails” a couple of times.  The different levels of the hiking trails are a big help and aid you in figuring out which trails you can take depending on your level of expertise.

To sort the confusion, the hiking trails have been observed with three different levels. The levels are set per the difficulty levels of the trails and come in handy when you are deciding on a trail for your hike.

If you are a beginner, ready for a leisurely hike, but you wander on a really steep path, that is going to be a problem. In the same way, it is necessary for an expert hiker to plan out the trails so that they do not waste their time on some really easy hike that is not worth their time.

Choose your trails very wisely with respect to their difficulty levels. Being experts on hiking trails, we will help you make an informed decision. Proceeding further, we are going to learn about the different levels of hiking and the fitness levels that are associated with hiking.

Table of contents


What Are The Different Levels Of Hiking?

Level 1

Level 1 of hiking is usually done on an easy pathway. This particular trail has no such inclines. The trail for level 1 is well-marked, and it is considered to be fairly low-risk. It is a very safe trail, and there is a really low chance of injury if any. You will not need any trekking gear for this trail except for hiking shoes. If you want, you can even grab your hiking poles and enjoy the hike.  

Level 2

Level 2 of hiking trails envelops a broader category than any other level. Here you may need to study the route descriptions so that you can get a fair idea about what sort of trail you will encounter. You may be going for something easier and getting something that is a little too stressful for your day out! So it is best to study your trail beforehand, especially when you are opting for level 2 of the hiking trails.

Level 2 is mainly a steady ascend that has some obstacles in between. It mainly refers to mountain climbing, and you may have to use your hands, ropes, or even chains to pave your way up the elevating pathways. In this trial, you will face a little more dangerous as compared to level 1.

When you are opting for level 2 of the trekking trail, make sure that you have a pair of ankle-high hiking boots.  The boots will help when you are off-trails and are a must whenever you are set to trek on level 2 trails.  

Level 3

For level 3 of the hiking trails, you need to be prepared and stocked. You need to have chains, ladders, and other possible equipment to enjoy your hike. Level 3 of the hiking trails have increased chances of rugged terrain, therefore, you will need to be safe.

Due to the difficulty level,  you may experience this as a pretty hard trail. A fall that takes place from the level 3 hiking trails can result in unfortunate events - they can lead to really serious injuries or, in the worst case, even death!

If you are confident enough, only then should you take this trail. This level consists of areas that have rugged terrain, you will be requiring your hands to scramble through any tough patches.

Here you can also encounter massive rocks that will act as an obstacle, steep slopes that will seem a little tricky to cross, or you can even face a dangerous combination of them both.

While this level does not call for all the professional hiking gear, it is advised to pop up some ropes and chains, just in case you need them. You can never be too safe, right? The ropes and chains can help when you are passing through some really rocky areas, glaciers, or really steep dips.

Your hiking boots should be good to cope with all the hiking! This trail is a lot trickier than level 2, so you might want to be prepared for it! 

What Are The Fitness Levels That Are Linked With Hiking?

1. People With Fair Fitness Levels

People who have a fair fitness level should opt for the easiest trails. These easy trails are suitable for all ages and all fitness levels; hence, it will not be much of a trouble. For easy tracks, you will have a distance that does not cross 10 km; the elevation gain in these tracks will be less than 500 meters.

2. People With Basic Fitness Levels

Easy trails are meant for people who have kept a basic fitness level in their lives. The distance that the easy trails cover falls between 10 km to 12 km. You will experience an elevation gain of about 800 meters while hiking.

3. People With Physically Fair Fitness Levels

The moderate trails are meant for people who have a reasonably fair fitness level. People who hike on a regular basis can easily cover the moderate trails. The distance that you will hike will be around 15  km. You will be experiencing an elevation gain of 800 to 1500 meters.

The challenge in these trails lies in the considerable elevation gain and the vast distance that needs to be covered.

4. People With a High Fitness Level

 People who have a really high fitness level can take the really difficult trails. They have long-distance combined with massive elevation gain. You will require fast speed to cover these tracks, so you need to be really fit for these hiking trails. 


If you love to hike, choose the best level of trails according to your fitness type and enjoy nature as you go.


Peter Brooks

Peter Brooks

I’m a hiker, backpacker, and general outdoor enthusiast. I started hiking out of college while working for the National Forest Service, and have been hiking ever since. I’ve been solo hiking and leading hiking groups for two decades and have completed hundreds of small hikes and some majorones such as the Appalachian Train and the Pacific Crest Trail, and hiked on four continents. I’d love to share some of my insight with you.

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