Hike Difficulty and Duration Calculator

Walking Track Grade & Time Calculator

Complete this form to assess the difficulty and duration of your hike

Excellent signage
Good signage
Fair signage
Poor signage
No signage

Paved (Smooth surface)
Hardpacked (Stable surface)
Uneven (Obstacles present)
Rough (Difficult terrain)
Natural (Unimproved)

Flat (Minimal incline)
Rolling (Gentle hills)
Hilly (Short, steeper sections)
Steep (Long climbs)
Very Steep (Challenging climbs)

No steps
Occasional steps
Many steps

About the Walking Track Grading Calculator

Rationale Behind the Calculator

The Australian Walking Track Grading System Calculator has been developed to provide a standardised method for evaluating the difficulty of various walking tracks. This tool assists hikers, from beginners to experienced bushwalkers, in understanding the challenges they might encounter on a track, enabling them to plan hikes according to their experience and fitness levels.

This calculator serves as a valuable tool for both planning hikes using an online route planner and verifying the accuracy of user-generated content from other platforms. User-generated content can sometimes be subjective, and this calculator provides a standardised assessment.

How It Works

The grading system becomes more intricate as more criteria are incorporated, making it challenging to apply. Therefore, this calculator is designed to be straightforward—easy to apply and user-friendly. It conducts a technical grading of walking tracks using descriptors from the Australian Standard 2156.1 – 2001 Walking Tracks – Classification and Signage.

This tool assesses the difficulty grade of a walking track based on several key criteria:

  1. Signage: The clarity and frequency of directional signs along the track.
  2. Quality of Track: The condition and surface of the track, ranging from well-formed hard surfaces to rough, unformed paths.
  3. Gradient: The steepness of the track, from flat to very steep and difficult sections.
  4. Steps: The presence and frequency of steps along the track.
  5. Distance: The total length of the track in kilometres.

For a detailed explanation of terms, descriptors, and the Australian Walking Track Grading System, please refer to my comprehensive blog post about the Australian Walking Track Grading System.

Estimating Walking Time

In addition to grading the track, the calculator uses elements of Naismith’s Rule, combined with the track grade to estimate walking times. Naismith’s Rule provides a guideline for how long it might take to complete a walk based on the distance and gradient, helping to account for the additional time required to navigate steeper sections.

Important Considerations

While this calculator provides a useful guide, it’s important to note that the grade and time estimates should be used as a guide only. Many variables can influence hiking times and difficulty, such as:

  • Physical Conditioning: The fitness level of hikers can greatly affect their pace and endurance.
  • Ambient Temperature: Weather conditions can impact hiking speed and safety.
  • Elevation and Duration of Effort: Altitude and time spent hiking can influence difficulty.
  • Pace and Energy Levels: Hikers may start energetically, slow down for breaks, and tire towards the end of the day.
  • Packs: The weight and type of packs carried (light day packs vs. heavy overnight packs) can impact hiking speed.

Examples of Hiking Speeds

To provide a more detailed guide, here are some examples of how fast a group of average hikers (around 6 people) with overnight packs might travel:

  • 1 kph: Climbing up a steep, rocky trail with dense vegetation.
  • 2 kph: Scrambling over boulders or navigating through a rocky, uneven path.
  • 3 kph: Descending a steep slope with loose gravel or navigating down rocky terrain.
  • 4 kph: Walking on a well-maintained flat track or trail that allows for a steady pace.
  • 5 kph: Walking briskly on a flat trail or moderate terrain with occasional obstacles.
  • 6 kph: Walking with significant effort, such as ascending a steep incline or navigating challenging terrain like dense forest or sand.

Modifying Pace

Adjust the pace according to various factors:

  • Faster if: Fit, carrying small light packs, less dense vegetation, flat ground, long legs, high energy levels, early in the day.
  • Slower if: Unfit, carrying heavy packs, thicker vegetation, steeper slopes, short legs, low energy levels, late in the day, injuries/blisters.

Calculating Your Expected Time

Remember, individual hiking speeds can vary. Use this as a guide and plan based on your pace. Calculate your expected time based on your own pace and conditions you anticipate encountering along the trail. To estimate the time required for your hike, divide the distance of your hike by your estimated group pace to determine the expected time (e.g., 12 km / 3 kph = 4 hours).

Benefits of the Difficulty and Duration Calculator

  • Safety: By understanding the challenges and estimated time, hikers can be better prepared, ensuring they have the right knowledge and enough time to complete the walk safely.
  • Planning: Helps in planning hikes that match the hiker’s fitness and experience level.
  • Encourages self-reliance: Cross-checking your chosen path with multiple resources is key to improve self-reliance and competence.
  • Standardisation: Provides a consistent way to compare different tracks, making it easier to choose suitable hikes.

I hope this tool enhances your hiking experience and helps you explore Australia’s amazing trails with confidence and safety. Plan your next adventure with my online route planner. For a deeper dive into the Australian Walking Track Grading System, visit my blog post.