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Our Hiking Track Grading System explained

Wondering how ‘physical’ your hiking tour will be?

Our grading system makes it easy to see!

The term ‘hiking tour’ can throw up different images for different people. While some may picture a gentle stroll through a flat and sheltered forest, others may have images of scaling steep mountainsides, wandering along icy, windswept ridges and wading chest-deep into raging rivers! So which image is correct?

What will you experience on a Sidetracks Women hiking tour?

Firstly, you can rest assured that you won’t experience anything at the extreme end of the scale. In other words, you won’t have to carry oxygen masks, strap on crampons or carry ice picks! But neither would you call our tours a walk in the park. So, where do they fit?

Well, to make it easy to see exactly where, we’ve developed a grading system that takes into account factors such as the terrain you will encounter, the altitude (i.e. how high up you will go), whether the surface is rough/muddy or well-formed, and if there are bridges when you need to cross a stream. And, of course, a ballpoint figure how long all this takes on average.

These factors are reflected in the categories that underlie every Sidetracks Women hiking tour:

  • Grade 1 / Easiest - Gentle walking for people with low to moderate fitness and abilities. Track is generally well-formed. Altitude differences of up to 100m. Average walking time about 1-2 hours.

  • Grade 2 / Easy - Track is generally well-formed; some sections may be rough, muddy or steep. Altitude differences of up to 300m. Average walking time about 2-3 hours. Can easily be managed with a reasonable level of fitness.

  • Grade 3 / Moderate - Track is mostly well formed; some sections may be rough, muddy or steep. Altitude differences of up to 700m. Average walking time about 3-5 hours. It would be best if you had a reasonable level of fitness.

  • Grade 4 / Advanced - Track has some uneven terrain, may be rough, muddy and steep, and can include some unbridged stream crossings. Altitude differences of up to 1000m. Average walking time about 5-7 hours. It would be best if you had a good level of fitness.

  • Grade 5 / Expert - Only recommended for people with high-level backcountry (remote area) experience and a very good fitness level. Altitude differences of more than 1000m. Can take all day.

We might be on the track for up to 2 hours longer as all times shown are walking times.

Time for photo stops and breaks needs to be added.

If still in doubt…

Sometimes a mix of terrain means that a track may range across two or even three grades. Our hiking tours are generally in the easy or moderate range. They can easily be managed by people with a reasonable to good level of fitness. They are not a walk in the park, but neither are they for highly experienced mountaineers. They are a multi-day tramping experience in a small group of generally enthusiastic, like-minded women.

It is important to keep in mind that weather conditions impact the walkability and difficulty of a trail. For example, a trail may be more difficult than described due to heavy rain or strong winds.

Don't forget – you only carry your day pack! Without the burden of a heavy backpack, you can tackle the uphill parts with much more ease and freedom of movement. We make sure we take regular breaks. And trust us - the views from the top are well worth it!!

Still unsure?

Just give us a call (ph 020 4079 2839)

– it might save you a lot of time and worries!


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