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Trail Rating Systems for Volkssport Walks

North American Trail Rating Systems

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Updated June 06, 2014

Trail to Top of Multnomah Falls

Trail to Top of Multnomah Falls

Wendy Bumgardner © 2010

How hard will the walk be? The walking clubs of the American Volkssport Association and Canadian Volkssport Federation have similar trail rating systems. They combine a number to rate the hills and incline and a letter to rate the type of walking surface and terrain.

The AVA system for clubs in the United States was developed from the CVF system, but uses actual elevation changes as a guide. These would need to be determined using a GPS application, altimeter, or online mapping app such as MapMyWalk.com. The elevation gain is totaled over the course of the 6.2 mile (10 kilometer) route and may or may not be a sustained climb up a single hill.

American Volkssport Association Trail Rating System

Incline
1: Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Probably suitable for strollers and wheelchairs. Cumulative elevation gain from starting point: up to 200 feet.

2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. The walk is probably suitable for strollers, but may not be suitable for wheelchairs. Cumulative levation gain from the starting point of the walk: 200 - 1000 feet.

3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs. Cumulative elevation gain from the starting point of the walk: 1000 - 2000 feet.

4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from the starting point of the walk: 2000 - 3500 feet.

5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from the starting point of the walk: more than - 3500 feet.

Terrain
A. Almost entirely on pavement. Probably suitable for strollers and wheelchairs.

B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles. The walk is probably suitable for strollers but may not be suitable for wheelchairs.

C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand). The walk is not suitable for strollers and wheelchairs.

D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.

E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.

Source: AVA Trail Ratings

Canadian Volkssport Federation Trail Rating System
1: Very little hill or stair climbing.
2. Some moderate hill and stair climbing.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing.
4. A good deal of hill or stair climbing.
5. Many steep hills or high altitude trails.

Terrain
A. Almost entirely on pavement. Probably suitable for baby stroller.
B. Significant parts of the walk take place on well-groomed trails with very little more difficult terrain.
C. A significant part of the trail takes place on somewhat difficult terrain (e.g.rocky / rooted paths).
D. A significant part of the walk takes place on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the walk takes place on very difficult terrain.

Source: CVF Trail Rating System

Accessibility
Neither trail rating system is enough to determine whether a walk is wheelchair accessible with cut curbs or ramps for wheelchairs. Those who need a fully accessible trail should read the detailed event information or call or email the club contact for the event in advance to ask whether the route has been assessed for true accessibility.

Examples of Trail Ratings

An easy walk on paved sidewalks or neighborhood bike paths in a location that doesn't have a lot of hills would be rated 1A in both systems. An example is the walk that includes the riverfront bike/walk path and Land Bridge in Vancouver, Washington.

A walk on a flat beach that has soft sand would be rated 1C in the AVA system. It may also have that rating in the CVF system if the club trailmaster judged the soft sand to be difficult terrain.

Hiking up the trail to Multnomah Falls, Oregon includes both a paved section and a very rocky trail. It climbs and descends 1500 feet. It is rated a 3C.

These trail ratings are used for both hosted walking events and for map-guided year-round walking routes established by the clubs.

Footwear and Gear for Difficulty Levels

For walks of difficulty 1A or 1B, good walking or running shoes should work well.

With terrain of C, D or E, trail shoes or boots should be worn for stability and to protect your feet from rocks.

A walking stick or trekking poles can provide stability for steep inclines or trails rated C, D, or E.

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