Every PTC hike is given a classification from 1 to 4, according to the table shown below. This is done so that hikers know what to expect in advance and are not unpleasantly surprised by a hike that turns out to be too hard (or too easy!) for their abilities and tastes. Occasionally a hike will appear with a classification such as "1+" or "2/3," indicating either a level of difficulty judged to lie between two classes, or a hike with a short section which is more difficult than the lower class number indicated.
In addition to the difficulty, we also estimate mileage (and some hike leaders may also provide elevation gain) to provide you with enough information so that you can match your ability to the hikes that you choose to participate.
Class 1: Easy. Mostly flat with good footing.
Class 2: Intermediate. Rolling hills and some rocks on trail.
Class 3: More difficult. Steep ups and downs, trail rocky but stable.
Class 4: Most difficult. Very steep ups and downs over rocky area that might be loose. Handholds may be needed.
An example of a more difficult hike that incorporates all of the above may be "Class 3, 7 miles, 1000'+ elevation, rocky hills, about 2 mph." The actual description of the hike may provide further details on what to expect.
A more mild hike might simply be "Class 1, 5 miles." Again, the actual description of the hike may provide further details on what to expect.
Please be aware of the expected ability of hikers and only sign up for those hikes for which you know are comfortable for your own abilities. If you are unsure of your ability, start low and work your way up.