Redwood Forest, photo by Bob Hoelscher
Air temperature. The warmer the day, the more difficult the hike. Cool, sunny days are ideal.
Altitude. The higher the elevation, the more challenging it will be.
The length of the hike you are planning.
The ruggedness and condition of the trail.
The vertical gain of the trail. Remember that a 1,000-foot vertical gain is like climbing an 82-story building, and 1,250 feet is equivalent to the 102nd-floor Empire State Building Observatory.
The general fitness and hiking experience of your group.
The general age of your group members.
Preparation of your group members.
Potential obstructions to be crossed, such as mountain streams or, at higher altitudes, patches of snow or ice.
Potential encounters with wildlife. In bear or rattlesnake country, be sure to make plenty of noise, usually not a problem for groups. Wild critters tend to like people even less than people like them, so they’ll almost always avoid you if they hear you coming.