Maricopa County Parks and Recreation

Trail Ratings & Etiquette

During the hotter months when the temperatures and/or humidity is high, trails will be rated at least one level higher.

Rating Symbol Brief
Surface Grade Obstacles/
Paved Accessible Trail Paved or hard and smooth easiestg None


Mostly smooth and wide Dirt with occasional unevenness easyg 2" or less, rocks and ruts
Mostly smooth, variable width Dirt with occasional unevenness moderateg <8" rocks and ruts, loose material
moderate difficult
Mostly uneven surfaces Dirt and rock moderatediffg <12" rocks and ruts, loose material
Long rocky segments with possible drops and exposure Dirt and loose rock with continual unevenness difficultg 12" or taller, loose rocks, exposure to drops
extremely difficult
Long rocky segments with possible drops and exposure Dirt and loose rock with continual unevenness mostdiffg 12" or taller, loose rocks, exposure to drops and excessive heat >90F

Trail Rating Card / Black and White Trail Rating Card

Know your ability and choose the right trail

Every year, more than 200 people have to be rescued while hiking in parks and preserves. Make an informed decision on which trail to hike. Choose a trail that is within your ability and your hike will be more enjoyable.

Be sure to ALWAYS:

  • Stay on designated trails.
  • Tell someone where you are hiking and when you expect to return.
  • Carry plenty of water for your entire hike. Remember water for your dog.
  • When your water is half gone, turn around and return to the trailhead.
  • Carry a cellphone.
  • Don't hike alone.
  • Wear appropriate footwear and clothing for hiking.
  • Use maps, know where you are going and what kind of terrain you are hiking on.

In addition to the tips above, here are a couple of basic safety refreshers to keep in mind when recreating outdoors:

  • Carry a bandana in your pack. They are light-weight and can be used for numerous situations. If you are beginning to suffer from excessive heat, wet the bandana and place on the nape of the neck and/or the forehead. This will help to cool you down quickly. Seek shade under a tree or bush.
  • Map miles are not the same as effort miles. On good trails, hikers can go up to 2.5 MPH. On most trails, count on no more than 1 or 1.5 MPH, especially if admiring the views, cooling off under Palo Verde trees, taking pictures, etc.
  • Going uphill takes more time. A 1,000’ climb equals a mile of effort and adds 10 or 20 minutes. Downhill is no faster if the trail is bad.
  • Be wary of rattlesnakes, particularly at night and when it is relatively cool.
  • Carry something to signal with – a police whistle, signal mirror, and matches for a fire, a colored panel – to make you visible.
  • Be considerate – leave no trace.



Web site design and development by