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Ski trail difficulty ratings in North America


Trail Rating

Symbol

Level of difficulty

Description

 

Green circle

Easiest

The easiest slopes at a mountain. Green Circle trails are generally wide and groomed, typically with slope gradients ranging from 6% to 25%[3] (a 100% slope is a 45 degree angle).

Blue square

Intermediate

Intermediate difficulty slopes with grades commonly ranging from 25% to 40%. These slopes are usually groomed. Blue Square runs make up the bulk of pistes at most ski areas, and are usually among the most heavily trafficked.

Black diamond

Advanced

Amongst the most difficult at a given mountain. Black Diamond trails tend to be steep (typically 40% and up)[3] and may or may not be groomed, though the introduction of snowcats has made the grooming of steep slopes both possible and more frequent.

Double black diamond

Expert Only

These trails are even more difficult than Black Diamond, due to exceptionally steep slopes and other hazards such as narrow trails, exposure to wind, and the presence of obstacles such as steep drop-offs or trees. They are intended only for the most experienced skiers.
This trail rating is fairly new; by the 1980s, technological improvements in trail construction and maintenance, coupled with intense marketing competition, led to the creation of a Double Black Diamond rating.

Variations

Various

Variations such as doubling a symbol to indicate increased difficulty, or combining two different symbols to indicate intermediate difficulty are occasionally used, as is often in Colorado at Winter Park resort and other Colorado ski resorts. One example is a diamond overlapping a square to indicate a trail rating between a Blue Square and a Black Diamond. Many resorts throughout Colorado use a double diamond with an "EX" in the center to mark a run with extreme terrain, even more difficult than a double diamond. Other resorts, such as Smugglers' Notch, Vermont, Le Massif, Quebec, and Mt. Bohemia, Michigan, use triple black diamonds. The combination of symbols is comparatively rare at U.S. ski areas; most ski resorts stick to the standard 4-symbol progression (with the exception of the common EX runs in Colorado).
Non-standard symbols for standard ratings may be encountered at some ski areas. Bogus Basin, a resort near Boise, Idaho, uses orange diamonds on trailheads for trails that are indicated in the resort's Alpine Guide as double black diamonds.[4]

Terrain parks

Various

Terain parks are whole or portions of trails that can offer a variety of jumps, half-pipes, and other special "extreme" sporting obstacles beyond traditional moguls. The trails are typically represented by an orange rectangle with rounded corners.
Usually, the terrain park will carry its own trail rating, indicating the level of challenge. A terrain park with a Black Diamond or Double Black Diamond rating would contain greater and more challenging obstacles than a park with a Blue Square rating.