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The trail rating system

  • Posted on: 22 August 2016
  • By: Nate

I've run into a person or two who have been a little confused by the trail rating system that we all take for granted.  It's a topic that can be slightly confusing, mainly because not everyone follows the same scale, and trail difficulty can be a very subjective topic.  An "easy" trail to me, might be a nightmare to someone else.  In order to level the playing field, and make sure that everyone can pick their trails on the same scale, we need a common set of ratings.

A good example of an organization that had to tackle this problem in a very big way would be the folks at Jeep Jamboree USA.  Participants attending a Jeep Jamboree might be hitting the trails for the first time, and might have no real idea of what their vehicle is capable of.  So a system of rating trails is very important.  Because of that, I'm basing this article on their system

They use a 1-10 scale, ten being the hardest.  These numbers are then broken down into colors.  Green, Blue, Yellow, Black, and Double Black. I'll break them down.

Green (1-2)

Green trails are usually just a step up from access roads.  They should be fun, and slightly challenging for new off-roaders.  Dirt roads, mud puddles, mild water crossings, small rocks, and wash-outs are what you can expect here.  4wd may be optional.

Blue (3-5)

Blue trails are a step up from greens.  Expect larger rocks, and tougher terrain.  More driving skill is necessary, but a new driver in the right equipped vehicle shouldn't have too much trouble, with an experienced guide/spotter.  4wd high, and sometimes Low, will be required for blue trails. 

Yellow (6-7)

Sometimes referred to as a "High Blue" yellow trails are a step between a blue and a black.  More rocks, difficult terrain.  At least one locker, and more use of 4-low is required here. 

Black (8-9)

Black trails are usually for the experienced.  A well equipped rig with a less eperienced driver behind the wheel, and a good guide, can complete a black trail, but you'll be in for a challenge.  Minimum of one locker, and 4-low will be a must.  Expect large boulders, your undercarriage will take some hits.  Higher clearance and large tires are also very important.

Double-Black (10)

The double-black, sometimes called a red, is as tough as they come.  Lockers front and rear, large tires (35"+ minimum) and low gearing will be your friend here.  Experienced drivers only, and a highly modified rig.