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Trip Ratings System
The Trip Ratings system is intended to be a general guide for Georgia Sierra Club outings. Light, Moderate, and Strenuous ratings are assigned based on total mileage, ascent, descent, and campsite elevations.

For more specifics about an outing or its rating, please contact the outing leader directly.

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Dayhikes, Backpacking and Flatwater trips

These are rated using a three-part code:

<Distance> <Pace> <Altitude>

<Distance> refers to the total round trip length in miles.

<Pace> refers to the average pace of the trip, and is quantified as follows:


    Very Slow, less than or equal to 1 Mile per hour.


    Slow (not necessarily strenuous!), Between 1 and 2 miles per hour


    Medium, between 2 and 3 miles per hour


    Fast, between 3-4 miles per hour


    Very fast, over 4 miles per hour

<Altitude> refers to the total altitude change during the trip. Both altitude gain and loss are figured in this number. This part of the rating is optional, and may be omitted for trips where the altitude change is less than 100 feet, or on flatwater trips.

As an example, a dayhike rated 8-M-3000 signifies an eight mile hike, at an average pace of between 2-3 miles per hour, and covering an altitude change of 3,000 feet (say a climb of 1,500 feet, followed by a descent of 1,500 feet). A canoe trip rated 8-S signifies a 8 mile trip from put-in to take-out, at an average pace of 1-2 miles per hour.

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Caving Trips

Sierra Club Caving Trips classifications are as follows:

  • Class A: Walk through cave for 3-4 hours.
  • Class B: Walking (90%) and climbing ledges (10%).
  • Class C: Walking (50%) and crawling or climbing (50%).
  • Class D: Some walking, the rest crawling through mud or over rocks and ledges. Also narrow canyons to squeeze through. A 5-7 hour trip, strenuous, will get wet.

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River Trips Involving Rapids

For such trips, the international scale of river difficulty is used:

  • Class I (Very Easy): Waves small and regular, passages clear , sandbanks, artificial difficulties like bridge piers, riffles
  • Class II (Easy): Rapids of medium difficulty, passages clear and wide, low edges
  • Class III (Medium): Waves numerous, high and irregular, rocks and eddies, rapids with passages that are clear through narrow,  requiring expertise in maneuvering, may require scouting from shore.
  • Class IV (Difficult): Long rapids, waves powerful and irregular, dangerous rocks , boiling eddies, passages difficult to scout, reconnoitering mandatory the first time, powerful and precise maneuvering required.
  • Class V (Very difficult): Extremely long, difficult and very violent rapids following each other almost without interruption. River bed extremely obstructed, big drops, violent, current, very steep gradient, scouting essential, but difficult.
  • Class VI (Extraordinarily difficult): Difficulties of grade V carried to extremes of navigability. Almost impossible and very dangerous. For EXPERTS only, at favorable water levels and after close study with all precautions taken. Almost any Class V becomes Class VI at high water levels.

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