Updated: Apr 2, 2022
Have you ever seen a walk with a ‘grade’ before? Well these numbers that may seem to be arbitrary do have a purpose and an important one at that. The grade given to a hike is a measure of its difficulty and in 2010 was fully endorsed as the industry standard; since then it has been rolled out around the country and is being used on most walking trails. In this article we will cover what each grade means, what kind of walker it is suited to and how long each grade’s hikes typically are.
Grade one trails are for people who have no prior bushwalking experience, these trails are typically flat, paved, have no steps and are all suitable for wheelchair users (with assistance), they also never exceed 5km in length so are easy for most people.
Grade two walk also require no prior bushwalking experience and are on hardened, compacted surfaces with inclines, small hills and irregular step. These walk are never longer than 10km but aren't typically accessible to wheelchair users.
Grade three walks are suitable for people of most ages and fitness levels who have a basic understanding of hiking, these trails can have rough surfaces, steep sections but overall should be relatively calm and easy to traverse. These hikes never exceed 20km and are usually well marked.
Grade four hikes can be strenuous and a good level of bushwalking experience is required before undertaking, tracks can be rough, steep, and poorly marked with little navigational guidance. There is no limit to the length of this grade of walk.
Grade five walks are only for extremely experienced bushwalkers who are skilled and equipped to undertake the walk, tracks may be extremely steep, rough, and may have no signage or markings to guide walkers at all. These walks are typically but are not limited to over 20km.
How do our hike ratings correspond to the Grades
In our hikes area of our website we have a total of 3 levels which are Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced, each one of these levels fits into a range of the Australian Walking Track Grades and is based off not only the trail but the navigation, signage, exposure to the elements and much more. The Grade ranges are as follows.
Beginner – Grades 1-2
Intermediate – Grades 2-4
Advanced – Grades 4-5
On rare occasions hikes may vary from this simply due to other external factors that make this hike harder or easier to complete but this should always be specified in the trail overview section of the walk’s details so that you know the reasoning behind this change.
The Australian Walking Track Grading System is a fantastic tool to help gauge whether you are able to tackle a walk and helps you find walks that are suitable for you. Without this system you would see many more walkers undertake walks that are far too hard for them without their knowledge, putting them in unnecessary danger. Next time you are looking for a walk, consider looking at the track grade before you settle on where you are hiking as it can give a great indication to you on how suited the trail is.
Written by Josh Welch