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Trail Rating Guide

During the hotter months when the temperatures and/or humidity is high, trails will be rated at least one level higher.

Rating Symbol Brief
Definition
Surface Grade Obstacles/
Steps

easiest
Paved Accessible Trail Paved or hard and smooth
None


easy

Mostly smooth and wide Dirt with occasional unevenness
2" or less, rocks and ruts

moderate
Mostly smooth, variable width Dirt with occasional unevenness
<8" rocks and ruts, loose material

moderate difficult
Mostly uneven surfaces Dirt and rock
<12" rocks and ruts, loose material

difficult
Long rocky segments with possible drops and exposure Dirt and loose rock with continual unevenness
12" or taller, loose rocks, exposure to drops

extremely difficult
Long rocky segments with possible drops and exposure Dirt and loose rock with continual unevenness
12" or taller, loose rocks, exposure to drops and excessive heat >90F

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Trail Rating Card
/ Black and White Trail Rating Card

Know your ability and choose the right trail

Every year, more than 200 people have to be rescued while hiking in parks and preserves. Make an informed decision on which trail to hike. Choose a trail that is within your ability and your hike will be more enjoyable.

Be sure to ALWAYS:

  • Stay on designated trails.
  • Tell someone where you are hiking and when you expect to return.
  • Carry plenty of water for your entire hike. Remember water for your dog.
  • When your water is half gone, turn around and return to the trailhead.
  • Carry a cellphone.
  • Don't hike alone.
  • Wear appropriate footwear and clothing for hiking.
  • Use maps, know where you are going and what kind of terrain you are hiking on.

In addition to the tips above, here are a couple of basic safety refreshers to keep in mind when recreating outdoors:

  • Carry a bandana in your pack. They are light-weight and can be used for numerous situations. If you are beginning to suffer from excessive heat, wet the bandana and place on the nape of the neck and/or the forehead. This will help to cool you down quickly. Seek shade under a tree or bush.
  • Map miles are not the same as effort miles. On good trails, hikers can go up to 2.5 MPH. On most trails, count on no more than 1 or 1.5 MPH, especially if admiring the views, cooling off under Palo Verde trees, taking pictures, etc.
  • Going uphill takes more time. A 1,000’ climb equals a mile of effort and adds 10 or 20 minutes. Downhill is no faster if the trail is bad.
  • Be wary of rattlesnakes, particularly at night and when it is relatively cool.
  • Carry something to signal with – a police whistle, signal mirror, and matches for a fire, a colored panel – to make you visible.
  • Be considerate – leave no trace.

 

 

Exploring the Dragonfly Trail - Spur Cross
Under the Desert Floor - North Trail- McDowell Park
Desert Plant Walk - White Tank Mtn.
Mountain Bike Madness - San Tan

Thursday Morning Fitness Hike - Usery Park - 4/17/2014
Bird Nerds - San Tan - 4/17/2014
Spring Fitness Hikes! - Cave Creek Regional Park - 4/17/2014
History of Lake Pleasant - Lake Pleasant - 4/17/2014
Fridays Fitness Hike *DIFFICULT* – OUTSIDE OF PARK- Tom's Thumb Trailhead- 128th St - 4/18/2014
Little Explorers for Toddlers - San Tan - 4/18/2014
Desert Wash Discovery - White Tank Mtn. - 4/18/2014
Home School Program: "Strung Out on Polymers" - Usery Park - 4/18/2014
Sonoran Story-time For Kids - San Tan - 4/18/2014
Discover the Desert Hike - Lake Pleasant - 4/18/2014
Welcome to the Sonoran Desert! - Cave Creek Regional Park - 4/18/2014
Early Bird Desert Birdwalk --Nursery Tank Pond- ADA Accessible- McDowell Park - 4/19/2014
Archery 101 a - Cave Creek Regional Park - 4/19/2014
Fun with a Bow - Archery 101 8AM Class - Lake Pleasant - 4/19/2014
"Scrambled EGGstravaganza" Crafts and Games- San Tan - 4/19/2014
"Tails on Trails" - Dog Fitness Hike - Usery Park - 4/19/2014
Archery 202 - Usery Park - 4/19/2014
The Saguaro Cactus Hike - Estrella - 4/19/2014
Archery 101 b - Cave Creek Regional Park - 4/19/2014
Birding By Ear- Desert Learning Series program- McDowell Park - 4/19/2014
Fun with a Bow - Archery 101 10AM Class - Lake Pleasant - 4/19/2014
Archery "OPEN RANGE"- Cave Creek Regional Park - 4/19/2014
Monsoon and Stormwater Program - Lake Pleasant - 4/19/2014
Practical Desert Survival - White Tank Mtn. - 4/19/2014
Earth Day Family Movie - "The Lorax" - 4/19/2014
more...


General Park Hours
Sun-Thu: 6am-8pm
Fri-Sat: 6am-10pm
- 365 days a year 

Headquarters Admin Hours
Mon-Fri: 8am-4pm
except holidays 

Maricopa County Parks & Recreation Dept.
Headquarters Administrative Offices
234 N. Central Ave, Suite 6400
Phoenix, AZ 85004
Ph: 602-506-2930 Fax: 602-506-4692
maricopacountyparks@mail.maricopa.gov
 
Our Parks:  
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Main Parks Homepage  

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