Appalachian Mountain Club 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.

  1. Accessible: Suitable for stroller, wheelchair, or other wheel assisted travel. Paved, hardened gravel, or ADA listed terrain or approach. The distance travelled 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

Tables for specific types of activities, to go with general ratings

Hiking/Backpacking/Trekking

Activity LevelMoving Time
(up to __ hours)
Distance
(up to __ miles)
Daily Elevation Gain or Loss
(up to __ feet)
Relaxed3+4500
Easy461000
Moderate682000
Vigorous6123000
Strenuous6+153500+
Notes:
  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.

Biking

Activity LevelMoving Time
(up to __ hours)
Distance
(up to __ miles)
Average Moving Speed
(__ miles per hour)
Elevation
(up to __ feet)
Rise
(__ feet per mile)
Relaxed3258.3100040
Easy4358.8200057
Moderate44511.3300067
Vigorous56012.0450075
Strenuous68013.3700088

Cross Country Skiing (Classic or Skate)

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

Activity LevelMoving Time
(up to __ hours)
Distance
(up to __ kilometers)
Moving Speed
(average __ kilometers per hour)
Elevation Gain
(up to __ meters)
Rise
(__ meters per kilometer)
Relaxed382.710013
Easy412.53.120016
Moderate4164.030019
Vigorous5285.665023
Strenuous6406.7100025

Backcountry Skiing

Activity LevelMoving Time
(up to __ hours)
Distance
(up to __ miles)
Average Moving Speed
(__ miles per hour)
Elevation
(up to __ feet)
Rise
(__ feet per mile)
Relaxed331300100
Easy451.25500100
Moderate4821000125
Vigorous5122.42000167
Strenuous6152.53500233

Paddling

Activity LevelMoving Time
(up to __ hours)
Distance
(up to __ miles)
Comments
Relaxed3+3Flatwater, day trip, no portages
Easy55Flatwater, day trip, no portages
Moderate66Class 1 river; no portages, overnight
Vigorous78Class 1-2, river; 1-2 portages/day; overnight
Strenuous7+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 LevelMoving Time
(up to __ hours)
Distance
(up to __ miles)
Comments
Relaxed35Protected water with little wind and current, within 1/2 mile of shore.
Easy3-46-7Less sheltered rivers or harbors, open water in flatwater conditions, waves < 1ft.,5-10 knot winds, following seas, boat wakes.
Moderate4-58-12Open water, up to 2 ft. seas, 2-3 knot currents, 10-15 knot winds, open water crossings up to 2 miles.
Vigorous510-15Open water, up to ocean swells and chop, 20 knot winds, crossings with significant exposure to winds, waves, current and boat traffic.
Strenuous715-20Open water in remote locations in foul weather, winds up to 25 knots, 3 ft. surf, open crossings of 5-10 miles.

Climbing & Mountaineering

Activity LevelMoving Time
(up to, hours [car to car])
Distance
(up to, miles [approach])
Comments
Relaxed2-4
(Grade 1)
1 pitch
< 20 minutes
< .5 miles and 250′ elevation gain
Top rope activity
Figure 8/Skills
Easy4-6
(Grade 1)
1 pitch
30 minutes
.5 miles and 250-500′ elevation gain
Top rope/lead belay/sport climbing
Moderate6-8
(Grade 1-2)
1-2 pitches
45 minutes
.75 miles and 500-750′ elevation gain
Lead belay/anchor cleaning/trad/sport
Single Pitch
Vigorous8-10
(Grade 2)
2-4 pitches
Up to 60 minutes
1 mile and 750-1000′ elevation gain
Multi-pitch
Trad skills
Strenuous10-12
(Grade 3)
3-9 pitches
> 60 minutes
Over 1 mile and over 1000′ elevation gain
Multi-pitch
Trad skills

Youth (14 & Under) & Family Hiking

Activity LevelMoving Time
(up to __ hours)
Distance
(up to __ miles)
Daily Elevation Gain/Loss
(up to __ feet)
Relaxed22250
Easy33500
Moderate451000
Vigorous682000
Strenuous6+10+2000+
Notes:
  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.