Every trip is rated for difficulty, ease of access to a trailhead, how busy the destination is likely to be, and the wow factor. These are subjective and based on my own experience.
The higher the rating the more amazing at least one aspect of the hike is.
This takes into account the quality of the hike and the final destination (if there is one). My personal favourites are generally away from the crowds, often at the end of a dirt road with a definitive 'reward'.
★★★★ Put on your shortlist
This refers to hiking/walking trails only. Most of the featured trails are well-marked by signs and/or cairns unless otherwise noted. For difficulty of 4 wheel drive roads, see ‘Access’ ratings.
★ Generally a flat, possibly paved, trail of short to medium length
★★ The trail may be rougher / have some elevation gain
★★★ Will involve one or more of the following: the use of hands to negotiate obstacles / exposure to drop-offs / steep trail / wading through deep water / route finding / major elevation gain
★★★★ As above, but a longer, more exhausting trail / very poor trail
Ease of driving to the location (or location trailhead). Many of the higher-rated roads are passable for most of the way with 2WD vehicles. But don't be fooled. A high rating means that there’s at least one spot along the way that deserves its rating. Important: These roads were driven by me between 1996 and 2019. In this part of the world, road conditions can change, not just over years but overnight, and particularly after heavy storms. Some are regularly maintained, others left for users to ‘rebuild’ as they use them. An easy ride to a trailhead may be impassable on the return leg. Plan accordingly and make sure you have enough water and food (and gas) to last you until a road dries out or until you can seek help.
★ 4WD only. Risk of damage / Being stuck
★★ Will involve one or more of the following: rough / ledgy / sandy / deep ruts / steep grades. High clearance vehicles only, 4WD advisable
★★★ Rough in places but suitable for 2WD vehicles if driven with care. High-clearance preferable
★★★★ Well-maintained surface suitable for most vehicles
★★★★★ Paved or other excellent road surface
The ‘wilderness quotient’. Weekends and public holidays will always be busier than weekdays so plan accordingly. Spring and Fall have the largest footfall. Early morning starts will be rewarded! Note: many of my trips were done in mid summer and usually I've seen no one at all on many of the trails.
★ You may have the place to yourself
★★ Expect to share with a few others
★★★★★ Very crowded – enough to spoil a Kodak moment