Hike Ratings

The Grand Hikers club, in its earlier years, historically used the term "Boots" as a way to specify the difficulty of our hikes. For example, a hike rated as "2 Boots" would be easier to negotiate than a hike rated "3 Boots". This "Boot" method was unique to our club and was adopted by the members as a quick way to discuss the various differences between hikes. During 2005 the then-current Hike Director refined the rating system to provide additional information in the form of a Composite Boot Rating (CBR). After several incidents of hiker difficulty with some trails during 2008, the Board established an Ad Hoc Committee to review the components of the CBR and make recommendations for changes to address a better understanding of trail conditions. The following information clarifies the improvements put into effect in the 4th quarter of 2008 and in April 2017 the process was further revised to reflect improved technology for the development of the climbing elevation (replaced DeLorme TOPO with Google Earth software and modified the method of rounding the results).

Composite Boot Rating

L = Length Rating = ½ of D (D = total distance of the hike in miles)

CE = Climbing Elevation Rating = 3 X Climbing Elevation divided by 1000. Climbing Elevation is the total "up" feet on a given hike. This component is derived from a GPS track of the hike. The GPS track is downloaded into Garmin Basecamp software and then viewed in Google Earth. Google Earth is used to identify the climbing elevation of the track. The track can be displayed in an “Elevation Profile" mode and numerous hike characteristics are included with the Profile, one of which is Elevation Gain/Loss. The Elevation Gain determined from Google Earth will then be rounded up or down to the nearest 100 feet to identify the Climbing Elevation. The Climbing Elevation is then multiplied times a factor of three and divided by 1000 to generate the CBR component. For example: Cottonwood Trail has a Climbing Elevation of approximately 915'. This is rounded down to 900' and multiplied times 3 and divided by 1000 as follows: 900 X 3 = 2700 / 1000 = 2.7. The factor of three is to give more weight to the Climbing Elevation when calculating a Total CBR..

T = Trail Surface Rating. This is a subjective factor used to evaluate the additional hiking effort required above and beyond that needed on an ideal hiking surface (such as the indoor walking track at the Adobe Spa). Since most trails are composed of a variety of trail surface conditions, the rater assigns a value that approximates the average trail surface. For example, if a trail is 50 percent smooth and well groomed (T = 1), and 50 percent forest duff with some roots (T = 2), the average trail surface might have a Trail Surface Rating of T = 1.5. The following examples provide some benchmarks for assigning a Trail Surface Rating.

T = 0: Flat pavement; e.g., Sun City Grand streets.

T = 1: Smooth, gravel or dirt roads, with good footing.

T = 2: Forest duff with some roots, gravel with some loose rocks; e.g., many Sedona hikes.

T = 3: Loose rock on moderately steep terrain, or muddy and slick trails; e.g., most White Tank hikes.

T = 4: Very steep terrain with large boulders, or hikes requiring some hand-over-hand climbing; e.g., Flat Iron or Picacho Peak.

T = 5: Hikes in very difficult terrain, including bush-whacking in heavy vegetation, or where a rope, ice axe, or machete is required.

A = Additional factors. This is a catchall category to account for anticipated environmental factors or unusual trail conditions that could noticeably increase the difficulty of a hike. This factor is not included in the Hike Rating, but only as a verbal interpretation of the Hike Rating. The list of additional factors includes the following:

High altitude, over 8,000 feet.

Significant stream crossings.

Falling rain or snow.

High winds, dust, or smoke

A short but difficult section of trail, i.e. cables, ladders, very steep, etc.

LENGTH 8.0 miles L = 4.0
TRAIL SURFACE Moderate w/loose rocks T = 3.0
ADD’L FACTORS None Not Applicable

Cottonwood Trail:

Length  Elevation Trail Surface Hike Rating
 8.0 miles   900 ft  Moderate w/loose rocks Moderate
 4.0 2.7 3.0 3.2

Quartz Peak:

Length  Elevation Trail Surface Hike Rating
6.2 miles 3000 ft Steep w/some boulders Strenuous
3.1 9.0 3.5 5.2


The brackets for CBR ratings fall as follows: