MTB Trail Grading Guide

Heading out to the trail? Then here's what those different colour codes mean

MTB Trail Grading Guide

This is your easy reference guide to the colour-coded grading system used for cross-country singletrack trails.

MTB Trail Grading Guide

Cross-country singletrack trails at dedicated mountain bike centres use a grading system to inform riders of the difficulty of their various trails.

As good as any grading system may be, trail surfaces will vary throughout the year - and particularly during or after heavy rain. If in doubt, speak to the rangers, or stop and walk through a section.

Mountain biking is a potentially hazardous activity carrying a significant risk. Always ride within your own abilities.

 

GRADE

GREEN

BLUE

RED

BLACK

EASY

MODERATE

DIFFICULT

SEVERE

SUITABLE FOR

Beginner cyclists and families, riding bikes with child seats or trailers, touring bikes, bikes for those with disabilities.

Cyclists with some experience of on-or off-road cycling and reasonably fit families, riding mountain bikes, hybrids or robust touring bikes.

Experienced mountain bikers riding mountain bikes.

Expert mountain bikers.

TRAIL TYPES

Railtrails, towpaths, reservoir trails, estate or forestry tracks, traffic quiet roads.

As 'green', also bridleways, byways, un-surfaced unclassified roads (UCRs) and lightly trafficked lanes.

Any usable trail, including some bridleways, byways and UCRs.

Technical trails, with unforgiving terrain, severe climbs and descents or considerable distances.

GRADIENT

Shallow climbs and descents.

Shallow or moderate climbs, possibly including short sections of steeper climbs.

A wide range of steeper, tougher climbs and descents of a challenging nature.

Any rideable or usable gradient, including steep, loose, and rocky descents.

SURFACE / WIDTH

Blacktop or compacted limestone or gravel. Essentially smooth with a minimum content of loose surfaces. Normal width 2-3 metres.

Mostly stoned surfaces with 2 meter width.

Widths from 0.4 metre and any usable surface. Likely to include singletrack and other technical sections.

As 'red' but with an expectation of greater and wider challenges and continuous difficulty. Can include any rideable or useable trail.

TRAIL HAZARDS

These trails carry a very low risk but may include short, more difficult sections.

Some loose surfaces, ruts, potholes and/or tree roots.

Unavoidable berms, boardwalks, large stones, moderate steps and drop-offs.  Cambers, water crossings and 'North Shore' may be present.

Unavoidable obstacles with large steps and drop-offs.  There will be prolonged steep, loose and rocky surfaces. Some man-made structures will be included. Can include exposed open hill sections.

NOMINAL DISTANCE

5–10km

(3–6 miles)

10–20km

(6–12 miles)

10–50km

(6–31 miles)

1–100 km

(1.6–61 miles)

MAXIMUM CLIMB

50 metres

100 metres

500 metres

1,000 metres

 

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