Shenandoah's Hiking Difficulty is determined by a numerical rating using the following formula:
Elevation Gain x 2 x distance (in miles). The product's square root is the numerical rating.
For example, a 10-mile hike that gains 2,200 feet in elevation:
2,200 x 2=4,400
4,400 x 10 = 44,000
Square root of 44,000=209.8
The hike's numerical rating is then tied to one of five descriptors: Easiest, Moderate, Moderately Strenuous, Strenuous, Very Strenuous.
The example hike above would be rated Very Strenuous.
This formula approximates difficulty and is imperfect. Dark Hollow Falls has a numeric rating of 36.3. Under the formula this would be in the "Easiest" range, however the steepness of the trail over such a short distance warrants a "Moderate." When choosing a hike, always consider the specific elevation and distance in addition the the given difficulty rating.
Numerical Rating: less than 50
A hike that is generally suitable for anyone who enjoys walking. Mostly level or with a slight incline. Generally less than 3 miles.
Numerical Rating: 50-100
A moderate hike is generally suitable for novice hikers who want a bit of a challenge. The terrain will involve a moderate incline and may have some steeper sections. Generally 3 to 5 miles.
Numerical Rating: 100 –150
Moderately Strenuous hikes will generally be challenging for an unconditioned person. The terrain will involve a steady and often steep incline. Generally 5 to 8 miles.
Numerical Rating: 150-200
Strenuous hikes will challenge most hikers. The hike will generally be longer and steeper, but may be deemed "Strenuous" because of the elevation gain. Generally 7 to 10 miles.
Numerical Rating : greater than 200
Only well-conditioned and well-prepared hikers should attempt very strenuous hikes. The hike will generally be long and steep, and may include rock scrambling, stream crossings, and other challenging terrain. Generally 8 miles and over.
Average Pace is:
1.5 miles per hour for easiest trails.
Last updated: July 28, 2023