Trip Rating

Trip Rating – what you need to know

During our activities, we incorporate time for naturalist interpretation along the way. However, keep in mind that in order to reach our selected destinations, we also must cover a certain number of miles. We strive to do so at a moderate pace.

Our ratings are based on several criteria including miles covered, difficulty of terrain, changes in elevation, pace, and altitude. Also, consider that a moderately rated backpacking trip will inherently be more challenging than a hiking trip with the same rating. If you have any questions about your ability to meet the physical activities of a trip, please call Liz (865-774-5885) and she will be happy to answer your questions and help you find a trip that is most suitable for you. On some trips you can select different options or you may have the opportunity to skip a day’s activity, depending on logistics.

Please note: You will get the most enjoyment out of your adventure if you are reasonably fit. Once you reserve a trip with us, we will send specific training and conditioning tips to you.

Ratings for JGO hiking, paddling and backpacking trips.


More relaxed trip with less physically challenging activities. Low mileage per day over unchallenging terrain. Typical miles covered might range from 1-4 miles per day. You will not need any specific physical conditioning but should be in basic good health.


Active trips that require a moderate level of physical conditioning. Participants should be in good health and physical condition. Miles covered can range from 4 - 9 miles per day. Hiking trips typically involve walking over moderate terrain (which may include rocky, uneven trails) as well as changes in elevation. These trips are suitable for anyone who works out regularly. Those who do not work out regularly can also enjoy these adventures and should be able to do most activities. However, they will be more tired than usual at the end of the day.


More active trips that require participants to be in very good health and physical condition. Longer mileages covered each day and/or more difficult terrain and conditions are expected on these trips. These trips are suitable for someone who does a more vigorous aerobic workout on a regular basis.

We use the same rating system to assign an overall trip rating and a rating of each day’s activity. For example, the trip may be an overall Moderate trip with one day’s activity rated as Moderate to Challenging.