We use a rating system for all our hikes in order to help you choose those which match your capabilities or the type of hike you are looking for. Because different people find different aspects of a hike more difficult than others we rate hikes against four criteria as described below. Each criterion is rated on a 0-5 scale, and we then take the simple average of these four ratings to give an overall figure for the hike.
Note that in summer the hike organiser will often add an extra 0.25, 0.5 or 0.75 to the overall rating to reflect the extra difficulty of walking in the heat & humidity.
When we use words to describe a hike then they generally map onto the Overall rating as follows:
Easy: lower than 2
Moderate: from 2 to ~2.75
Hard: from ~2.75 to ~3.5
Very Hard: over 3.5
If you have any comments or questions regarding this rating system then please either talk to the hike leader on your next hike, or email Steve P.
0 = we're not hiking, we're sitting in the pub
1 = your grandmother could keep up with us
2 = we're hiking, not strolling, but we'll take quite frequent breaks
2.5 = typical speed for regular hikers, calibrated using Naismith's Rule: 5km/h + 30 mins for each 300m of ascent + 5 mins/hr for breaks.
3 = we're hiking fast (but not running), and we don't expect to take many breaks
3.5 = we'll be mixing fast hiking with some jogging on downhills and flats
4 = we will be running all the downhills and flats
5 = we'll even be running the uphills
(Note that in Hong Kong Hikers we very rarely organise hikes above speed 3.5; if you're looking for faster stuff then try the Hong Kong Trail Runners.)
0 = we'll get off the bus, change our minds, and go to the pub
1 = 5km
2 = 10km
3 = 20km
4 = 30km
5 = 40km or anything more than that
Thus a 15km hike is rated 2.5 and a 25km hike is rated 3.5.
This rating indicates the total cumulative elevation gain through the hike. Obviously this is a bit of a simplification in that getting off the bus and hacking straight up a 400m staircase is quite different from 10 climbs of 40m spread through a 20km hike. Note also that not all hikes start and finish at the same elevation, so there may be substantially more or less descending than ascending (and we don't rate for the amount of descent). So if going up or down is an issue for you then please read the description of the hike for more details or contact the hike organiser if you would like more clarification.
0 = it's flat
1 = 250m of cumulative elevation gain
2 = 500m
3 = 750m
4 = 1000m
5 = 1250m or anything greater than that
Thus, for example, 375m of cumulative ascent would be a rating 1.5. Given the difficulty of measuring meaningful elevation gain figures this rating is often simply rounded up to the next whole number (so a rating 3 would mean "somewhere between 500 and 750m of elevation gain").
This rating gives you some indication of the nature of the ground we'll be walking over. In general the rating is based on the most difficult section of the hike. Where the conditions vary significantly on different parts of the hike then this will generally be indicated in the hike description.
0 = we're taking the bus
1 = paved surfaces
2 = well-defined dirt trail with nothing much that could be regarded as "tricky"
3 = either a less well-defined trail (meaning that it is somewhat overgrown in places), or one which has significant unevenness or which is often slippery
4 = this is either a serious "bushwhack" meaning that there either isn't much of a trail or that it is so overgrown that you will be pushing your way through bushes and will get scratched if you are not wearing long clothing, or the trail is very rough, steep or slippery.
5 = this is basically off-trail, no defined route and/or you will need to use your hands to the extent that this is bordering on rock climbing.
In Hong Kong Hikers we very rarely get on rating 4 surfaces, and almost never on rating 5.
The Overall rating is simply the average of the four ratings above.
Please note that the Overall rating is only a very general guide. For example, a rating 3.0 hike could be a normal pace (2.5), for 40km (5), with a rough surface (3), and with 350m of climbing (1.5), but, on the other hand, it could be a very fast (3.5), 10km (2), on an easy dirt surface (2), with 1150m (4.5) of climbing. These two hikes would be very different and likely appeal to different people.