Difficulty - Best of the Northwest Best of the Northwest

Trails referenced in this guide range from nearly flat smooth board walk and flat duff packed trails (1.) to steep cardiovascular challenging climbs (3.) to alpine scrambles (4.) and technical mountaineering (5.).

Starting with some easier hikes at shorter distances will give you a bearing for planning the difficulty of trips that follow.  Vertical gain and roughness of the trail (rocks, roots, brushy, route finding challenges) will make a noticeable difference in the speed of which the trail is traveled.  Gaining familiarity with hiking distances will translate to confidence while on the trails.  It is easier to run a 5k if you can walk it first.  Conditioning into longer more difficult terrain, gain confidence hiking gradually adding speed with improved balance and coordination.

 About the Yosemite Decimal System from Wikipedia:

1. Easy

Sidewalk flat, infant-friendly, easy to access, well-maintained, minimal vertical gain with fun and interesting destinations.

GPS PointGreenlake

2. Moderate

Maintained trail navigating of uneven surfaces under foot.  Limited vertical gain and mileage.  Including low-land beach, seaside and lower Cascade foothills.

GPS PointEbey’s Landing

3. Strenuous

Good choice for training with plenty of vertical gain (over 1,000 ft) typically climbing up to motivating views.

GPS PointRattlesnake Ledge

4. Challenging

More vertical gain, trail conditions may be rockier, rootier with potentially dangerous exposure.  More adventurous requiring better fitness and navigation skills.

GPS PointMount Si Trail and Haystack Scramble

5. Technical

Dangerous exposure requiring proper training of alpine rope systems, route-finding and mountain navigational abilities.

GPS PointMount Rainier, DC Route


Best of the NW® provides general information and links for the topics of hiking, trail running and mountaineering. By providing this information, we do not assume any liability for the use of this information by our readers. The activities described on this web site are potentially dangerous in potentially dangerous environments.  You could be injured by falling, or things falling on you, changing weather conditions etc.  Each person participating in these activities needs to understand the risks involved, obtain the necessary training and take the needed precautions.
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