As someone who enjoys hiking as a hobby, I have always found hiking information sites to be frustrating. Although they provide a lot of information on directions, parking, descriptions, photos, and basic statistics, they do not provide a review of the hike. And the websites that do review hikes almost all have high ratings even for hikes that are very plain with no exceptional views. So, I decided to make my own reviews, with a better way to quantify how “great” a hike is and provide other information for people who enjoy hiking.
The grading rubric
Here’s what is graded:
Reviews are subjective, but as a hobbyist hiker, I decided to grade a hike based on 4 criteria:
- Interest and Appeal
Views are what hiking is all about: seeing the outdoors, plants, trees, animals, and scenic views as you climb higher.
Interest and Appeal is related to the fun of a hike, how unique or special it is, and if it is memorable compared to other hikes.
Challenge is not how difficult a hike is, but rather, if a hike engages you in different ways. If the entire hike is an easy, uphill stroll where you can have constant conversation with your friend, it is not a challenge. If you need to watch footing, if you have an area where you need to use rope, if you suddenly hit a steep area, if you need to use your mental energy to think of the best part to step, then it is challenging.
Amenities are if a hike has facilities for hikers. I do not expect there to be a red carpet rolled out for me, but it should have signs to point me in the right direction, parking, neatly established steps or rope in steep areas, and possibly benches for resting. Parking is especially important, because if you’re visiting, the last thing you want to do is struggle for parking and waste an extra hour or two figuring out parking.
The idea behind these four is that is a hike is severely lacking in any of these, then it reduces the enjoy-ability of the hike.
Here’s what is not graded:
- Elevation gain
All of the above are merely information about the hike and should not determine how good a hike is, as everyone’s choice of hiking difficulty is different.