Recreational Value for trails

This page is in DRAFT. Updated 4-2-2024.

Guidelines for assessing a trail using the Recreational Value system:

ValueExperienceExamples of what can pull up and down:
9IconicNatural trail only. Many landscape changes. Countless natural or cultural points. Goes exclusively through attractive natural scenery. Naturally quiet all the way.
8AttractiveAlmost only natural trail. Some landscape changes. Many natural or cultural points. Part of it goes through attractive natural scenery. Naturally quiet for a large part of the way.
7LovelyNatural trail. Some landscape changes. Some natural or cultural points. Walks through attractive natural scenery in some places. Naturally quiet in some places.
6NiceSome nature trails. Individual natural or cultural points.
5NeutralDirt road.
4BoringDirt road and some paved road.
3UndesirablePaved road. Quite a difficult road. Goes through industrialized areas in some places.
2Unsafe/uncomfortableVery busy road. Paved road. Passes partly through industrialized areas.
1Illegal/impossibleBusy road only (motorways, main roads). Goes through industrialized areas.
Natural trailField road, forest road, grass road, sandy road, spang (landscape-typical surface), beach, footpath.
Dirt roadThe surface of pebbles/gravel below 16 mm
Difficult roadEg, loose stones/shards over 16 mm, muddy, bumpy road, or heavy sand.
Paved roadHard surface in the hiking trail, incl. all types of tiles, asphalt, and concrete.
Busy roadThrough roads with much traffic without sidewalks/cycle paths, unmarked road crossing. Cycle paths.
Landscape changesThrough roads with much traffic without sidewalks/cycle paths unmarked road crossing. Cycle paths.
Natural and cultural attractionsNatural attraction: Can be a viewpoint, natural scenery, flower meadow, park, etc. heath, fjord/bay, coastal slope, fine biotope, spring, brook, brook, river, lake, marsh, hilltop, gorge, rocks, waterfall, protected area, gl. tree Cultural attraction: Can be a memorial stone, historic road, church, burial mound, etc. mill, homestead museum, bench, toilet, restaurant.                                            
Castles, cathedrals, listed buildings, modern architecture.

The starting point for assessment is the surface: paved road = 3, dirt road = 5, natural trail = 7.
The examples can increase or decrease the value with 2 levels. For example: a dirt road is level 5 initially, and many landscape changes and countless natural or cultural points may lift it to level 7. A paved road my be lifted from level 3 to level 5 with the same examples.

Recreational Value Criteria for ERA Recommends Trail.

  • A weighted average for a route or area must not be below “5”.
  • There must not be any path segments with value ” 1 ” (illegal/impossible).
  • A section of path with value ” 2 ” (unsafe) must be a maximum of 500 m per walk.
  • There must be a maximum of 33% RED (value 1, 2 and 3) on a stretch.


In general.

If a path or route is assessed from a general point of view, the examples that best suit the general nature of the trail are chosen.

For example, almost only natural trails, some landscape changes, many natural or cultural points, some go through attractive natural landscapes and naturally quiet a large part of the road will fit the grade 8 and be attractive.


If you want a more precise assessment of the path or route, you can walk it and assess it along the way.

Start at the starting point and follow the path. When you come to a major change, e.g. change in the surface or in the event of a change in landscape, you stop, record how far you have walked, turn around, and rate the section of path you have walked on the 1-9 scale. You enter this in the accompanying spreadsheet. Continue along the path until you come to another major change. Repeat registration of length and assessment according to the 1-9 scale.

This is how you continue until the path or route has been completed.

The path sections that score low should be considered whether they can be rerouted or improved.

ERA strongly advises that a trail manager, who wishes to use the system, contact the ERA Secretariat to get a short virtual introduction of 2 hours on how to use the system in practice.

ERA Quality Day Walk Working Group is responsible for this system and may be contacted via ERA Secretariat.