MountainSummits.com's 5 Star Hike Rating System

MountainSummits.com 5 Star Hike Rating System is, of course, completely subjective.  It is provided as a service to our visitors to provide a way to help sort through the myriad choices of which hike to take. In rating hikes, MountainSummits.com considers five factors: views, difficulty, access, trail quality, and the "wow" factor. Now here's where we muddle things a bit.  Although we always keep the factors in mind when rating a hike, the number of stars a hike receives does not always correspond to the number of factors.  However, when it comes to a five star rating, the best, one thing is always true:  this hike definitely possesses the "wow" factor.  So, if a hike receives 5 stars, in our opinion, it is a truly a great hike.  Below are the five factors described in more detail:

1. Views

Good views from the summit and along the trail.  Or views so great from the summit that one doesn't mind no views from the trail.

2. Difficulty

A trail that is not too easy but not too difficult to hike.  A moderately steep hiking trail so that one feels a sense of accomplishment at the summit but has not been beaten to a pulp with an unceasingly steep trail.

3. Access

To earn this star, the trailhead must relatively easy to reach.  You can drive your car to the trailhead or nearly so and begin your hike.

4. Trail Quality

The trail is well maintained.  It is a pleasure to hike because volunteers who deserve our gratitude have built bridges, water stops, and keep the trail free from encroaching brush. Also, there is a mother nature factor here. The trail is free from mosquito infestations or other natural phenomena such as muck that make hiking unpleasant.  There is a human factor too - overcrowding has not adversely affected the ambiance on the trail.

5. Wow Factor

This is a mountain that just makes you say, "wow!"  One would tell his or her friends, "You have to climb this mountain, it is amazing, I love it!"  This could relate to excellent views (as on many bald peaks) or a particularly fun trail to hike (such as a ridgeline).

Take it or leave it:  Once again, this rating system is very subjective and meant only as a general guide.  After using it, please feel free to disagree wholeheartedly, accept completely, or remain neutral absolutely.