Trip Rating

Trip Rating

Activity Rating System

Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) activities are rated using a scale of six levels described below. Consult the participant information or trip posting for details including the intended group pace and equipment requirements. Refer to the tables that follow the general descriptions for the miles, speed, and, when applicable, elevation gain. Note that any individual activity may be rated higher by the leader than the tables indicate for several reasons, such as a short distance but very difficult conditions (terrain, steepness, or exposure) or a much longer distance over easier terrain. Activities may also be rated lower at the leader’s discretion if instruction in the activity discipline is among the objectives of the program. Some direct experience in the trip activity is required for vigorous and strenuous levels, especially if there are technical skills needed for the activity. This experience threshold may be met at the leader’s discretion for hiking and backpacking programs if the participant is able to provide examples of recent similar experience and adequate fitness to participate in a group activity.


Activity Levels

Accessible: Suitable for stroller, wheelchair, or other wheel assisted travel. Paved, hardened gravel or ADA listed terrain or approach. The distance traveled and anticipated timing of the activity are detailed in the activity description. This rating is employed across activities and is not broken out in each of the tables below. Please direct any inquiries for reasonable accommodation to the trip leader in advance of the trip.

Relaxed: Suitable for most active participants with full mobility and participants new to the activity described. Expect to be actively on the move for about 3 hours/day. You may be on the trail, slopes or water for a longer time, but there will be plenty of rest breaks.

Easy: Reasonable fitness for the expected activity is needed, but the trip is designed for those new to the activity. Expect to be active up to 4 hours/day. A bit more active time than the relaxed rating, but with generous breaks.

Moderate: Fitness level and/or past experience to sustain the activity at a moderate pace is required. Expect to be active up to 4-6 hours per day. Reasonable breaks in the action.

Vigorous: Suitable for those with recent similar experience and/or demonstrated proficiency, such as being active in sports or often (regular) engagement in vigorous physical activity. Ability to perform at the expected level for back-to-back days for multiday trips. Expect to be active up to 5-6 hours per day, with brief breaks.

Strenuous: Most physically demanding. Fitness for the specific activity is required with direct experience in the activity highly recommended and potentially mandatory (see the activity description). Expect to be active 6+ hours per day for back-to-back days if it is a multiday trip. Breaks will be shorter/fewer than for other levels of trips.



Activity Level Moving Time (Up to___Hours) Distance (Up to __ Miles) Daily Elevation Gain (Up to ___Feet)
Relaxed 3+ 4 500
Easy 4 6 1000
Moderate 6 8 2000
Vigorous 6 12 3000
Strenuous 6+ 15 3500+

1. Trips involving hiking at high elevations, such as above 7000’, may be rated more difficult than mileage and elevation gain alone would dictate.
2. Likewise, backpacking and trekking trips that involve carrying a heavy pack may be rated up a level.

Trail Work
Travel to/from the work site rated as per hiking activity levels. Specific trail work activity along with difficulty will be detailed in the trip description.


Activity Level Moving Time (Up to___Hours) Distance (Up to __Miles) Average Moving Speed (__ Miles per Hour) Elevation (Up to ___feet) Rise (__Feet per Mile)
Relaxed 3 25 8.3 1000 40
Easy 4 35 8.8 2000 57
Moderate 4 45 11.3 3000 67
Vigorous 5 60 12.0 4500 75
Strenuous 6 80 13.0 7000 88


Cross Country Skiing (Classic or Skate)

Groomed touring center maps are in kilometers so metric units are used.

Activity Level Moving Time (Up to___Hours) Distance (Up to ___Kilometers) Moving Speed (Average ___Kilometers per Hour) Elevation Gain (Up to __Meters) Rise (__Meters per Kilometer)
Relaxed 3 8 2.7 100 13
Easy 4 12.5 3.1 200 16
Moderate 4 16 4.0 300 19
Vigorous 5 28 5.6 650 23
Strenuous 6 40 6.7 1000 25


Backcountry Skiing

Activity Level Moving Time (Up to___Hours) Distance (Up to __ Kilometers) Moving Speed (Average Kilometers per Hour) Elevation Gain (Up to __Meters) Rise (__Meters per Kilometer)
Relaxed 3 3 1.00 300 100
Easy 4 5 1.25 500 100
Moderate 4 8 2.00 1000 125
Vigorous 5 12 2.40 2000 167
Strenuous 6 15 2.50 3500 233



Activity Level Moving Time (up to___hours) Distance (up to __miles) Comments
Relaxed 3+ 3 Flatwater, day trip, no portages
Easy 5 5 Flatwater, day trip, no portages
Moderate 6 6 Class 1 river; no portages, overnight
Vigorous 7 8 Class 1-2, river; 1-2 portages/day; overnight


7+ 8+ Class 3 and higher rivers or class 1-2, river; portage class 3 rapids; longer and/or more difficult portages; overnight

Sea Kayaking

All levels require wet exit and re-entry ability, either solo or assisted.

Activity Level Moving Time (up to, hours [car to car]) Distance (up to, miles [approach]) Comments
Relaxed 3 5 Protected water with little wind and current, within 1/2 mile of shore.
Easy 3-4 6-7 Less sheltered rivers or harbors, open water in flatwater conditions, waves < 1ft.,5-10 knot winds, following seas, boat wakes.
Moderate 4-5 8-12 Open water, up to 2 ft. seas, 2-3 knot currents, 10-15 knot winds, open water crossings up to 2 miles.
Vigorous 5 10-15 Open water, up to ocean swells and chop, 20 knot winds, crossings with significant exposure to winds, waves, current and boat traffic.


7 15-20 Open water in remote locations in foul weather, winds up to 25 knots, 3 ft. surf, open crossings of 5-10 miles.

Climbing & Mountaineering

Activity Level Moving Time (up to___hours) Distance (up to __miles) Comments
Relaxed 2-4
(Grade 1)
1 pitch
< 20 minutes
< .5 miles and 250′ elevation gain
Top rope activity
Figure 8/Skills
Easy 4-6
(Grade 1)
1 pitch
30 minutes
.5 miles and 250-500′ elevation gain
Top rope/lead belay/sport climbing
Moderate 6-8
(Grade 1-2)
1-2 pitches
45 minutes
.75 miles and 500-750′ elevation gain
Lead belay/anchor cleaning/trad/sport
Single Pitch
Vigorous 8-10
(Grade 2)
2-4 pitches
Up to 60 minutes
1 mile and 750-1000′ elevation gain
Trad skills


(Grade 3)
3-9 pitches
> 60 minutes
Over 1 mile and over 1000′ elevation gain
Trad skills

Youth (14 & Under) & Family Hiking

Activity Level Moving Time (Up to___Hours) Distance (Up to __Miles) Daily Elevation Gain (Up to ___Feet)
Relaxed 2 2 250
Easy 3 3 500
Moderate 4 5 1000
Vigorous 6 8 2000
Strenuous 6+ 10+ 2000+

1. Hikes over rough terrain and/or poorly marked trails may be rated up a level.
2. Trips where participants are carrying full packs for overnight backpacking programs may be rated more difficult than a day hike of the same distance.