Adventure Difficulty Ratings

There is no foolproof way to answer the question, "How hard is it?" or "Do you think _________ can make it?" when referring to a hike. An easy hike for some may be difficult to others. A mile in the city is much less difficult than a mile up a mountain. A one mile hike in July will undoubtedly be more difficult than a four mile hike in March. A 7 year-old with energy may do better than a 16 year-old "couch potato."

All things considered, please do not be intimidated or deterred by a level of activity. This is simply a guide and very few of our adventures are exclusively reserved for students with more ability or experience. Our more difficult adventures are generally their own trips.

Our "Examples of Similar Activities" is a guide from a local point of view where families may try certain trails to get an idea of what may be involved on an adventure.

The following is a system that will hopefully help in determining if you or your child should attempt one of our adventures.

  1. Level 1 Beginner Adventure: This Adventure would include "easy" hikes; generally 2 miles or less on relatively flat outdoor trails or longer but paved trails. Activities are not limited to experience or abilities. "Family Friendly Adventures" and "Car Camping" trips would be included at this level.

Examples of similar activities would be:

  • riding the tram in Sabino Canyon and getting out to explore various stops

  • walking around Reid Park bike/walking path

2. Level 2 Beginner Adventure: This Adventure would include activities requiring students to keep up with the majority of the other students. Short but "moderate" or "easy" but long trails would be included at this level. Some elevation change and more rugged trails should be expected.

Examples of similar hikes/activities would be:

  • walking from the Sabino Canyon Parking Lot to shuttle stops 9 (the end)

  • Tanque Verde Falls Trail

3. Level 3 Intermediate Adventure: This Adventure would include hikes and activities classified as "moderate." Hikes may be around the 4 mile mark and have a more significant/difficult elevation gain.

Examples of similar hikes/activities would be:

  • 7 Falls Trail

  • Tumamoc Hill

4. Level 4 Intermediate Adventure: This Adventure would include hikes classified as moderate and could be in the neighborhood of 5 to 9 miles long (there and back). Elevation change would be significant and difficult to average hikers.

Examples of similar activities would be:

  • walking from the Sabino Canyon parking lot to Hutch's Pool

  • Sycamore Reservoir Trail

5. Level 5 Advanced Adventure: This Adventure would include hikes that experienced and energetic students would see as a challenge. Long hard hikes on rugged trails should be expected. If a student cannot complete lower leveled adventures, they should avoid starting at this level.

Examples of similar activities would be:

  • Picacho Peak - Hunter Trail to the Peak

  • Butterfly Trail (Mount Lemmon)


Another resource that many may find valuable is the "All Trails" website and/or app.