A guide to understand how NPA walks are graded
Walk grading is a bit of a contentious issue among the bushwalking community given the high level of subjectivity involved. We have adopted to use the guidelines of our peak Bushwalking NSW body. These are based on the Australian Standard for walking track classification.
A grade is a helpful bit of information but needs to be considered in the context of other bits of information such as the walk description and potential hazards.
Here is a breakdown of the grades.
Grade 1 Well-marked and even tracks or footpaths, some steps.
Grade 1 – Opportunity for a large number of walkers, including those with reduced walking ability to walk on well marked and even tracks. Tracks are man-made and may have a few steps. Should not be steep. Suitable for beginners. Distance should not exceed about 10km.
Grade 2 Mostly on well-marked and not very steep tracks
Grade 2 – Mostly on tracks of low gradient. Opportunity to walk easily in natural environments on well-marked tracks. Tracks should not be steep. Distance should not exceed about 15km.
Grade 3 Some rough and hilly sections, suitable for beginners
Grade 3 – A walk with some hilly sections and/or rougher terrain. Opportunity to walk on defined and distinct tracks with some steep sections requiring a moderate level of fitness. Suitable for fit beginners. Distance should not exceed about 20 km.
Grade 4 Steep and rough tracks, may be some off-track, need some experience.
Grade 4 – Steeper, rougher terrain and may have off-track sections (no more than one-quarter of the walk) or a longer distance track walk. Opportunity to explore and discover relatively undisturbed natural environments mostly along defined and distinct tracks. Tracks can be steep. There may be short sections of rock scrambling involved. Leaders should have map reading abilities and/or ability to use a compass. Distance depending on circumstances. Not suitable for most beginners.
Grade 5 Mostly off-track, some rock scrambles, for experienced bushwalkers
Grade 5 – Off-track or difficult terrain. Opportunity for walkers with advanced outdoor knowledge and skills to find their own way along often in distinct tracks or off track in remote locations. May include steep sections of unmodified surfaces. There may be rock scrambling, creek walking and crossing involved. Distance should not exceed 30 km, but may be short and difficult. Not suitable for beginners.
Grade 6 Off track and hard going, for very experienced bushwalkers
Grade 6 – Strenuous off-track walk or very long distance. Opportunity for highly experienced walkers to explore remote and challenging natural areas without reliance on managed tracks. Terrain may be steep, uneven and no track. There may be rock scrambling, creek walking and crossing involved. Distance covered is unlimited, but may be short and difficult. Only for experienced walkers and not suitable for beginners.