What Is Elevation Gain?

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By Charlotte Miller

Are you curious to know what is elevation gain? You have come to the right place as I am going to tell you everything about elevation gain in a very simple explanation. Without further discussion let’s begin to know what is elevation gain?

Elevation gain represents the cumulative increase in vertical height along a path, trail, or route traveled during outdoor activities. This metric is measured in units such as feet or meters and serves as a fundamental indicator of the terrain’s steepness, difficulty level, and physical demands.

What Is Elevation Gain?

Elevation gain is determined by calculating the total increase in elevation encountered during the course of a journey, factoring in all upward climbs, inclines, or ascents along the way. It accounts for the sum of all positive changes in elevation and does not consider descents or downward changes in altitude.

Significance In Outdoor Pursuits

  • Hiking and Trekking: Elevation gain is a critical factor for hikers and trekkers, providing insights into the terrain’s difficulty and steepness. Routes with higher elevation gain typically involve steeper ascents, challenging climbs, and a more strenuous physical effort.
  • Cycling: For cyclists, elevation gain influences the level of effort required during a ride. Routes with significant elevation gain pose greater challenges, requiring more endurance and strength to tackle uphill sections.
  • Running and Trail Running: Elevation gain impacts the intensity and difficulty of running routes, especially in trail running where varying terrain and elevation changes contribute to the overall challenge and endurance required.

Interpretation Of Elevation Gain

  • Moderate Elevation Gain: Routes with moderate elevation gain offer a balanced challenge, suitable for individuals seeking a moderate physical exertion level and a mix of uphill and flat sections.
  • High Elevation Gain: Trails or routes with high elevation gain present significant challenges, demanding greater endurance, strength, and stamina to conquer steep ascents and rugged terrains.
  • Training and Fitness: Elevation gain serves as a valuable metric for athletes and fitness enthusiasts, aiding in training regimen planning and goal setting, allowing them to track progress and performance.

Technology And Tracking

Advancements in technology, such as GPS devices, fitness trackers, and mobile apps, allow outdoor enthusiasts to accurately measure and track elevation gain along their routes, providing valuable data for analyzing performance and planning future endeavors.


Elevation gain stands as a fundamental metric in outdoor activities, offering insights into the vertical ascent encountered during a journey. Understanding and assessing elevation gain not only aids in planning and preparation but also adds depth to the outdoor experience, challenging individuals to conquer varied terrains and elevations.

Embracing the challenges posed by elevation gain contributes to a deeper appreciation of nature, while pushing personal boundaries and fostering a sense of accomplishment in outdoor pursuits.


What Is Meant By Elevation Gain?

Elevation gain is the total amount you will climb in a day, and elevation loss is the total amount you will descend in a day. For example, if you climb 1000 feet, descend 500 feet, and then climb an additional 300 feet, the elevation gain would be 1300 feet and the elevation loss would be 500 feet.

What Is Good Elevation Gain?

Rolling terrain: up to 50 feet per mile (road races might classify this range as hilly to very hilly) Hilly: 50-150 feet per mile. Very hilly: 150-250 feet per mile. Mountainous: 250+ feet per mile.

Is 500m Elevation Gain A Lot?

A hike that has a total of 500m or more elevation gain, is going to require A LOT of extra energy.

Is 1000 Ft Elevation Gain A Lot?

The elevation gain is usually greater than 800 feet per mile and is oftentimes 1,000 feet or more per mile (which is very steep). Particularly for Rim Hikes, a strenuous hike may include some or lots of bushwhacking.

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