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Suggestion: Difficulty/Terrain Ratings

Guest Kurt in MI

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Guest Kurt in MI

Here's a copy of a message I sent to contact@geocaching.com (with UBB code modifications on the http links):


First, I want to say I'm a newbie and I *like* the idea of Geocaching. I'm looking forward to stashing/seeking caches. icon_smile.gif


I am planning on placing my first cache but I'm not sure what ratings I should assign regarding difficulty and terrain.


I looked around the website (including the FAQ) and forums for a standard to measure against. Here are the only specs I found:


* The overall difficulty (1-5, 5 being the hardest)

* Terrain rating (1-5, 5 using climbing gear)


Please consider placing a detailed list (or link to a detailed list) on each of the following (or in the persistent menu bar on the left of the screen):


Hide a cache page

Seek a cache page

Details Report pages


The list could describe examples of difficulty and terrain for each of the levels, 1-5. Perhaps JPG or GIF images of examples would help as well. I bet some experienced Geocachers would be willing to help create such a list and , perhaps, offer to provide images too. I'll post a copy of this message in an appropriate forum.


Thanks for your attention to this message.



Best regards,


Kurt in MI

Track your US currency's travels too at Where's George?! icon_smile.gif


[This message has been edited by Kurt in MI (edited 04-04-2001).]


[This message has been edited by Kurt in MI (edited 04-04-2001).]

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Guest kbraband

Here's some of the ratings rationale for the the caches we created.

For a cache that's wheelchair- and toddler-accessible, I gave the terrain a rating of "1".

For trails that go up steep hills and leave you a little winded, I gave a rating of "2.5".

I'm thinking of placing a cache on a small island in a river. I would rate that terrain as a "4".

Regrading the difficulty rating, I take into account the hiking distance, the terrain, and the visibility/accessibility of the cache. I have one cache that's hard to find because it's hidden inside a hollow log. I gave that a difficulty rating of "3.5".

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Guest fiser

Other posts have addressed these issues and the only agreements seem to be that ratings are both regional and relative.


A 4x4 and snowshoes might be "Special Equipment" in Michigan, while they may be considered standard in Colorado or Wyoming.

An objective rating system would potentially make every cache between Boulder and Salt Lake City a four or five star search.


For anyone who surfs, compare 20-foot "Hawaiian" vs. 20-foot waves everywhere else.


Finding a few caches would probably help you gain an appreciation for difficulty/terrain ratings

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Guest fiser

If you're in Western Michigan and looking for some perspective, "Winstrom" is probably among the easiest I've found, while "Entmoot" is the hardest (Terrain-wise). You could easily find both of them in an afternoon.


[This message has been edited by fiser (edited 04-06-2001).]

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Guest Kurt in MI

Thanks again, fiser.


I had Winstrom saved as a waypoint and just added Entmoot. Hoffmaster is a nice place to hike.


This is going to be fun. icon_smile.gif

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Guest Kluso

If you trek a bit further north you could try my Power Island cache. http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.asp?ID=53


I gave the terrain a rating of 1 since it?s on a sandy walkable beach. As it's on an island, "special equipment" is obviously required to reach it. I placed this cache early on in the game before difficulty ratings were being used. When I checked last fall, this cache had still not been visited (it may be the oldest virgin cache out there). I'll leave the honor of assigning a difficulty rating to the first hunter to log it.




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Guest Moun10Bike

Originally posted by Kluso:

When I checked last fall, this cache had still not been visited (it may be the oldest virgin cache out there).


Out of curiosity, I checked (yes, there ARE better things I could do with my time! icon_smile.gif): the oldest virgin cache that I could find was the Hilltop cache in Michigan (http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.asp?ID=51), planted on 5/29/00. My own Camels Prairie Stash in Idaho (http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.asp?ID=37) comes in second in age with no logs at 6/17/00. There is one older than that that has two "unsuccessful" logs: GC2D in Illinois (http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.asp?ID=45), planted on 6/8/00.


[This message has been edited by Moun10Bike (edited 04-06-2001).]

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Guest Kurt in MI



The Hilltop cache will be a perfect search since I sometimes ride my enduro motorcycle in that area. Looks like there are plenty of back roads / two-tracks nearby.


It'll be interesting to look for a cache without any clues (other than coordinates and a map) too.


Dunno about the Power Island cache though. I'd have to get hold of a boat and trailer first. Looks like it's a bit far for a swim. :D

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