Elevation Legend

Climbing Middle Sister (photo by Mark Malnati) Elevation Gain   

The elevation gain represents the positive change in altitude between the start of a hike and its high point. The elevation gain combined with a hike's mileage is used to determine the steepness of a trail which is the primary factor in assigning difficulty ratings. This site uses two different ways of measuring the elevation gain: cumulatively or by comparing the high point to the low point.

Cumulative Elevation Gain   

The cumulative elevation gain represents all of the uphill hiking required to reach a destination. Many trails have ups and downs rather than steady climbing so a cumulative gain represents all of the uphills traversed and is a more accurate indication of how difficult a hike is going to be. This figure is often an estimated value. When available, it will be used in the summary table at the top of a hike report.

High Point vs. Low Point Elevation Gain   

The elevation gain represented as the high point vs. the low point is simply the altitude of the starting point of the hike subtracted from the altitude of the highest point of the route. This is a pretty good indication of a hike's steepness but becomes less effective when a trail has many intermediate descents which in turn require extra climbing. When a figure for the cumulative elevation gain isn't available, the high point vs. low point elevation gain will be displayed in the summary table at the top of a hike report.

Crawford Ridge (photo by Webmaster) "Minimal" Elevation Gain   

The word "minimal" is used when an exact elevation gain figure isn't available and the trails described only include small hills. Often when "minimal" is used, it means the trail has very little elevation gain at all.

Elevation Loss   

Elevation loss is just the opposite of elevation gain, representing the negative change in altitude when descending a mountain or hill. With easy to moderate pitches, most people hike faster downhill than they do uphill. When the decline is steep and/or the footing is poor, descents often take as long as, or even longer than the climb.

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