In North America and at Mt. Hood Meadows, a color–shape rating system is used to indicate the difficulty of trails (otherwise known as slopes or pistes). Ski resorts assign ratings to their own trails, marking a given trail according to its relative difficulty when compared with other trails at that resort. As a result, identically-pitched trails at different resorts can have different ratings.
This means that a black diamond at one resort is not necessarily a black diamond at another; it could be a blue square or double black. Thus, the NSAA advises all skiers, of all ability levels, to work their way up from an easy slope so that they can become familiar with the trail markings at a ski area. Although slope gradient is the primary consideration in assigning a trail rating, other factors come into play — including trail width, normal snow conditions and whether or not the resort regularly grooms the trail.
% of terrain
|Green Circle Easiest 15%
||The easiest pistes at a mountain. Green Circle trails are generally wide and groomed, typically with slope gradients ranging from 6% to 25% (a 100% slope is a 45 degree angle). Our Buttercup Beginner area is all gentle Green Circle slopes - but the Green Trail marking can also mean it is the easiest way down the mountain from that point.|
|Blue Square Intermediate 50%
||Intermediate difficulty slopes with grades commonly ranging from 25% to 40%. These slopes are usually groomed. Blue Square runs comprise the bulk of pistes at most ski areas, and are usually among the most popular. Meadows is well known for its cruising intermediate runs.|
|Black Diamond Advanced 20%
||Amongst the most difficult at a given mountain. Black Diamond trails tend to be steep (typically 40% and up) and may or may not be groomed, though the introduction of winch-cats has made the grooming of steep slopes both possible and more frequent. Our interior front side Bowls offer exceptional Black Diamond runs.|
|Double Black Diamond
||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 is our Gated Access terrain of Heather and Clark Canyons, Private Reserve and S&R Cliffs.|
||Terrain 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. |