These are general definitions and guidelines that I use. When heading out, always assess your abilities, experience level, and local conditions.


  • Out and Back hikes are round trips.
  • Shuttle trips are one-way distances.

The elevation gain/loss is the total for the trip.

Trail Types

  • Developed - A developed trail that may or may not be signed. Keep your eyes open, though; even developed trails can sometimes be tricky to follow.
  • Cross-country - There is no trail. Route finding is a valuable skill as you will have to find your own way. Topographic maps and GPS are usually required. Keep an eye on the terrain. I find it helpful to look back frequently to see how things will look on your way back.

Hiking Grades

  • Easy - Generally less than a 4-mile round trip and 600 ft gain.
  • Moderate - Between 4 and 8 miles and typically less than 2000 ft gain.
  • Strenuous - More than 8 miles or greater than 2000 ft gain.

These are just my rough guidelines. You might feel differently. Try a few and use your own judgment.

Hiking Time Required

The required time to hike a trail is based on my own experience. Times are subjective. In some cases, I have added a little extra time to the hike. I consider myself an average hiker. Do a few hikes yourself and see how your time compares to mine as a benchmark for all the others. As with all things, your mileage may vary.

Hikes in the desert are often without any shade. Be aware of the sun and heat, especially in the summer. Try to hike during the mornings or late afternoons during high temperatures. Do not run out of water.

Road Grades

While many roads are paved or graded 2WD and suitable for most passenger cars, some require more caution. Road conditions can change, especially after a rainstorm.

  • Paved - Obviously, a paved road. Suitable for all vehicles.
  • Graded - This is a graded and usually maintained gravel road with some washboard. Full-sized and passenger cars should have no problems.
  • High Clearance - These are unmaintained gravel roads that can be rough or washed out in sections, and sand can be encountered. High clearance 2WD or AWD is required. Full-sized vehicles should have no problems as long as they have high clearance.
  • High Clearance 4WD - These roads are rougher with technical sections of rock, ruts, deep sand, and/or steep grades. Careful wheel placement will be useful to prevent vehicle damage or getting stuck. A 4WD vehicle with a high clearance is usually required. These roads can be too narrow for a full-sized vehicle.
  • Rough 4WD - These difficult roads will have rock ledges, deep ruts, tight switchbacks, steep treads, off-camber sections, and other technical obstacles. A high-clearance 4WD vehicle with low gears and lockers is recommended. A spotter might also be needed to ensure correct tire placement to avoid hazards. Body damage is possible. These roads are not suitable for full-sized vehicles.

I should also mention that tires are often overlooked when it comes to assisting with off-road driving. Good all-terrain or off-road tires can make a world of difference with traction compared to street tires. This is something to consider if you drive on rough roads often; there are lots of sharp rocks out there, and help is far away. 4WD driving can be hazardous to you and your vehicle. It often takes years of practice to become a great driver. Always stay on designated roads.


GPS coordinates, waypoints, and tracks are approximations only. Please use common sense. Do not walk over a cliff! GPS signals can be affected by factors such as terrain, tree cover, and atmospheric conditions, leading to inaccuracies or signal loss in remote areas. Always carry a physical map and compass as backup navigational tools, and be prepared to use them if needed. When hiking, pay attention to your surroundings and use your judgment to assess the safety and feasibility of the route rather than relying solely on GPS data. Remember, a GPS device is a tool to assist in navigation but should not be considered infallible. In case of discrepancies between GPS data and the actual terrain, trust your observations and judgment to make safe decisions.