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HomeHiding a GeocacheReview Process: Hiding a Geocache → Ratings for Difficulty and Terrain (D/T)

1.14. Ratings for Difficulty and Terrain (D/T)

When you submit a geocache for publication, you must specify ratings for difficulty and terrain using a 5-star scale. Please try to rate your cache accurately. One is the easiest. Five is the hardest. The difficulty rating covers time and effort in finding the cache (and possibly in signing the log) once at the coordinates. The terrain rating covers the difficulty of arriving at the coordinates.  For example:

Difficulty:  Terrain:

We recommend using the Difficulty and Terrain Selector

What about the half stars?

As already indicated, these are simply suggested ratings. Each geocache owner can make decisions about the final ratings of our geocaches. If you have hidden a geocache that gives a result of 4 stars for terrain, but your know that it doesn't seem THAT difficult, you could rate it at 3½. The length of the hike is from the most logical parking area to the cache.


1 star Easy
In plain sight or can be found in a few minutes of searching.
1 star Handicapped accessible
Terrain is likely to be paved, is relatively flat, and less than a ½ mile hike is required.
2 star Average
The average geocache hunter would be able to find this in less than 30 minutes of hunting.
2 star Suitable for small children
Terrain is generally along marked trails, there are no steep elevation changes or heavy overgrowth. Less than a 2 mile hike required.
3 star Challenging
An experienced geocache hunter will find this challenging, and it could take up a good portion of an afternoon.
3 star Not suitable for small children
The average adult or older child should be OK depending on physical condition. Terrain is likely off-trail. May have one or more of the following: some overgrowth, some steep elevation changes, or more than a 2 mile hike.
4 star Difficult
A real challenge for the experienced geocache hunter - may require special skills or knowledge, or in-depth preparation to find. May require multiple days / trips to complete.
4 star Experienced outdoor enthusiasts only
Terrain is probably off-trail. Will have one or more of the following: very heavy overgrowth, very steep elevation (requiring use of hands), or more than a 10 mile hike. May require an overnight stay.
5 star Extreme
A serious mental or physical challenge. May require specialized knowledge or skills to find or open the geocache.

5 star

Extremely challenging terrain  Requires specialized equipment (boat, 4WD, rock climbing, SCUBA, etc.) or is otherwise extremely difficult.


How was the rating system created?

Thanks to ClayJar for the early implementation of this feature.

It is based on criteria discussed with the community on the Groundspeak Forums: In the early days of geocaching (summer 2001), quite a few people who were active in our Forums came up with explanations of the rating system over a great deal of discussion. In the end, that group came to a consensus of suggested definitions of ratings, which is the best they could do. Ultimately, you alone are the best judge for rating your geocache.

Below are the definitions that came as a result of those discussions.

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