In March 2011 the Council of Bushwalking Australia endorsed the Australian Walking Track Grading System, a voluntary walking track standard.
The Australian Walking Track Grading System is a nationally consistent system to grade the level of difficulty of the track walking experience and then to clearly communicate that information to walkers.
The grading system is a guide only and is speculative based on quite a number of conditions and factors. There are no hard and fast rules as to why a trail receives any given grade and some conditions may vary. For example, a hike that is 25km in length but is quite easy to complete might be classified as a Grade 3 even thought the system would identify this as a Grade 4 trail, due to its length. You will find the grading, like the suggested time to complete a hike, may also vary based on your personal fitness and experience.
It is important to note that in some regions, such as the Alps, season and climate can also have an impact on the trail grade. What may be a Grade 4 hike in Spring will easily be a Grade 5 hike in winter when the trails are covered with snow and conditions and navigation are a lot more challenging.
(Note: The following hike grade icons have been created by Darren Edwards and are not to be reproduced without written permission from the copyright owner.)
The grades are
No bush walking experience required. Flat even surface with no steps or steep sections. Suitable for wheelchair users who have someone to assist them. Walks no greater than 5km.
No bush walking experience required. The track is a hardened or compacted surface and may have a gentle hill section or sections and occasional steps. Walks no greater than 10km.
Suitable for most ages and fitness levels. Some bush walking experience recommended. Tracks may have short steep hill sections a rough surface and many steps. Walks up to 20km.
Bush walking experience recommended. Tracks may be long, rough and very steep. Directional signage may be limited.
Very experienced bush walkers with specialised skills, including navigation and emergency first aid. Tracks are likely to be very rough, very steep and unmarked. Walks may be more than 20km.
The grading system operates at two distinct tiers
- A technical grading of the walk where the land manager determines the walk’s grade of difficulty using a set of technical questions based on the Australian Standard 2156.1-2001 Walking Tracks – Classification and Signage; and
- A ‘plain English language’ description to describe the walk to the public.
For more information about the Australian Walking Track Grading System, including user guide on how to grade a walking track using the new standard visit the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries web site. Download the Users guide to the Australian Walking Track Grading System
Disclaimer: A lot of hikes on this site may not been officially graded by land managers. As such I have used my own skills and experience in order to determine the most suitable grading. As with all hikes, read the description, assess your own ability and research the most suitable trail for you and your party. It is important to note that in some regions, such as the Alps, weather can have an impact on the trail grade. What may be a Grade 4 hike in Spring will easily be a Grade 5 hike in winter when the trails are covered with snow.