CHOOSING THE RIGHT HIKING / TREKKING ROUTE
We want you to have the best possible time during your hike or trek in Japan with us, and matching your experience level, and current physical conditioning to an appropriate adventure is the most important part of ensuring you have a truly enjoyable trip. With that said, it is incredibly hard to create a one-size-fits-all system that accurately portrays the difficulty and challenges of each unique hike within the context of its particular environment, trail conditions, technical aspects, distance, duration and elevation gain. Perhaps this is why there is no universal standard for rating the difficulty of hiking trails.
We have drawn largely our own experiences, and have also consulted with other hiking organizations and professionals in the industry to come up with a scale that we feel does the best possible job of boiling all the variables down into a relatively simple, accurate and easily understandable ranking. This is a two-part system that assigns a 6-level number scale to describe the necessary level of fitness, and combines it with a 3-letter scale to grade the technical difficulty. Please see the detailed explanation of each system below.
When choosing a hiking destination, be honest when evaluating yourself - and if you are unsure whether you could realistically handle the demands of a particular route listed on our site, just ask! Conversely, if you have a different trail in mind but are unsure where it would rank on this scale, send us a message or give us a call and we will be happy to help you evaluate the level and see if it is right for.
FITNESS LEVELS: 1 through 6
TECHNICAL LEVELS: A to C
Hiking is done entirely on maintained trails that are well-marked and in good condition. Surfaces are largely hard, smooth and stable, but may include occasional small rocks or other minor obstacles. These trails can be walked entirely on foot without requiring the use of your hands, and there is little to no chance of injury.
Hiking may be done at least partially on unmaintained trails or those that are not well-marked. Trails may be narrow in places, and could include soft and unstable surfaces, with a variety of larger rocks, roots, simple water crossings and other obstacles. This is essentially mountain climbing, and as such you may need to use your hands to ascend or descend boulders or short sections of fixed implements such as ladders and chains. There is an increased but limited chance of injury.
This is mountain climbing that includes scrambling, and will have both steep ascents and descents, some of which may occur on unstable terrain in exposed areas. No technical equipment is required, but you can expect to use your hands often and may need to rely on multiple areas of fixes ropes, chains and ladders to safely navigate extended portions of the trail. Due to the combination of technical terrain and exposure, falls could result in serious injury or even death.