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Hiking Guide Definitions



Wheelchair friendly: Whether a trail is wheelchair-friendly depends on a variety of factors, including trail width, grade, cross-slope, what materials the trail is made of, and whether land managers have designated it accessible.

This designation is made when trails are under optimal maintenance conditions, so seasonal changes or deferred maintenance may change how wheelchair-friendly a trail is.

Indicating a trail is wheelchair-friendly does not mean it meets ADA standards.

Calculated Difficulty

WTA's difficulty ratings are based on an algorithm that takes into account the overall length of the hike and the average incline of the trail in feet per mile.

These measurements are provided to help you plan your day, but other factors play into a trail's difficulty: steep sections of the trail, rocks and roots, creek crossings, exposure on steep slopes, and your own physical fitness and comfort level in terrain can determine how difficult you find a trail. Read the hiking guide description and the trip reports to get a better idea of what to expect when you head outside.


There are a variety of toilets available at trailheads and on hikes. They may close seasonally or when damaged, so go prepared for no toilet at a trailhead. Some toilet facilities may be located nearby, but not directly at the trailhead (in state parks, for example).

Toilet at trailhead: If we indicate a toilet is available at a trailhead with no other detail, it is likely what's known as a privy, pit toilet, port-o-potty or an outhouse. These are a structure with a toilet seat over a hole without built-in plumbing.

These can vary in appearance depending on what agency manages the area. Privys at trailheads managed by the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service are often in buildings and sometimes have multiple stalls. More rugged trailheads likely have a basic wooden structure enclosing a single seat. Sometimes, they may be a plastic, portable port-a-potty. They are occasionally equipped with hand sanitizer and toilet paper but always bring your own just in case.

In some cases, the toilet may not be directly at the trailhead, but nearby, like in a local park or a national park where visitor centers often have a dedicated area for toilets.

Wheelchair accessible: If the toilet is indicated as wheelchair accessible, it does not necessarily mean it has any other amenities. It may simply be a wheelchair-accessible port-a-potty.

Toilet has running water: If a toilet has running water, it is likely in a place with other amenities like a visitor center or playground. State parks, wildlife refuges or local and county parks are more likely to have toilets with plumbing.

Backcountry privy available: These type of toilets are most often found several miles into trails with established campsites or backcountry destinations, like lakes. They are typically a box toilet over a pit or composting toilet with no walls, but tend to be situated for privacy off a small, marked trail.