Ski Trail Ratings Explained

Elevated view of forested mountains with ski slopes and a few skiiers
Glenn Van Der Knjiff / Getty Images

Knowing the ski trail ratings is essential for skiing safety. Trail ratings can vary at different resorts, so it's important to consider all trails individually and use caution when skiing. In addition to the standard symbols shown here, some ski resorts combine trail ratings to indicate an in-between classification. For example, a blue square with a black diamond symbolizes a "blue-black" trail that is more difficult than a blue run but easier than a black. 

North American Ratings

Green Circle: The easiest trails to ski. They are typically wide and groomed, and have a gentle slope. Green Circle trails are popular with beginners.

Blue Square: Considered “intermediate” trails that are steeper than beginner trails yet easy enough for advancing beginners and intermediate skiers. They are popular trails at most resorts because they provide skiing that’s fun but not too challenging or scary. Generally groomed, some Blue Square trails have ​easy moguls or extremely easy glades.

Black Diamond: Difficult trails that are for advanced skiers. Black Diamond trails can be steep, narrow, or ungroomed. Other challenges, such as icy conditions, may cause a trail to be marked as a Black Diamond. Most glades and mogul trails are Black Diamonds.

Double Black Diamond: Extremely difficult trails that are recommended only for expert skiers. They may contain very steep slopes, difficult moguls, glades, or drop-offs. Because this is the highest rating, Double Black Diamonds can vary widely in difficulty. 

Terrain Park: While not used at all ski resorts, a terrain park may be marked with an orange oval shape. However, most ski resorts add an official rating, so you'll know how challenging the terrain park is.

European Trail Ratings

European ski trail ratings differ from North American trail ratings in that they don't use symbols. As with ski areas in North America, European resorts may vary in how they assign the ratings to a trail. For example, a trail that’s marked for beginners at Alpe d'Huez may have different characteristics than a beginner trail at Chamonix Mont-Blanc. Always use caution and ski with safety!

Green: Easy slopes that aren’t always marked but their gentle slope indicates their suitability for use as a first-time skier.

Blue: An easy trail with a gentle slope that is for beginning skiers or skiers who wish to ski on an easy trail.

Red: An intermediate slope that is steeper (or more difficult) than a Blue trail.

Black: Always known as an expert slope, but sometimes these slopes can be extremely difficult, so skiers should always proceed with caution.