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:
- Class 1: Walking with a low chance of injury, hiking boots a good idea.
- Class 2: Simple scrambling, with the possibility of occasional use of the hands. Little potential danger is encountered. Hiking Boots highly recommended.
- Class 3: Scrambling with increased exposure. Handholds are necessary. A rope should be available for learning climbers, and if you just choose to use one that day, but is usually not required. Falls could easily be fatal.
- Class 4: Simple climbing, with exposure. A rope is often used. Natural protection can be easily found. Falls may well be fatal.
- Class 5: Is considered technical roped free (without hanging on the rope, pulling on, or stepping on anchors) climbing; belaying, and other protection hardware is used for safety. Un-roped falls can result in severe injury or death.
- Class 5.0 to 5.12 + is used to define progressively more difficult free moves.
- Class 6: Is considered Aid (often broken into A.0 to A.5) climbing. Equipment (Etriers, aiders, or stirrups are often used to stand in, and the equipment is used for hand holds) is used for more than just safety.
Sidewalk flat, infant-friendly, easy to access, well-maintained, minimal vertical gain with fun and interesting destinations.
Maintained trail navigating of uneven surfaces under foot. Limited vertical gain and mileage. Including low-land beach, seaside and lower Cascade foothills.
Good choice for training with plenty of vertical gain (over 1,000 ft) typically climbing up to motivating views.
More vertical gain, trail conditions may be rockier, rootier with potentially dangerous exposure. More adventurous requiring better fitness and navigation skills.
Dangerous exposure requiring proper training of alpine rope systems, route-finding and mountain navigational abilities.
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