Not every hiking trail is the same – and, therefore, not suitable for every hiker. Factors such as surface, width, condition and exposure have a significant influence on the suitability of a trail for different groups of people. The German Alpine Club (DAV) and the Austrian Alpine Club (ÖAV) divide hiking trails into the following categories.
Classification of hiking trails
Valley paths (sometimes yellow, T1) are wide, flat with no risk of falling. They can usually be walked on with sneakers. The paths are generally not signposted and maintained by the Alpine Club, but by regional managers.
Simple mountain paths (blue, T2) are often narrow and can be steep. They do not have any passages where you are in danger of falling. Sturdy shoes are recommended as well as maps for orientation.
Medium-difficulty mountain paths (red, T3) are mostly narrow and often steep. Passages with a risk of falling are possible alternating with short, secured passages. Good shoes and maps for orientation are a must as well as first experiences in alpine terrain.
Difficult mountain paths (black, T4–T6) are narrow, steep and in some places, there is a risk of falling. Often secured passages and/or easy climbing sections have to be managed. Sure-footedness and a head for heights are absolutely necessary as well as suitable footwear and experience in alpine terrain.
Signposting in the Allgaeu and Vorarlberg
This classification applies to the entire Bavarian Alpine region and Austria - except for the Allgäu and Voralberg. There, hiking trails are signposted as follows:
White-yellow marked paths are easy to walk and can be mastered without special equipment or previous knowledge.
White-red-white marked paths are narrower and steeper. They contain unpaved passages and passages where there is a risk of falling and can only be walked with suitable footwear and some previous knowledge.
White-blue-white marked paths are narrow, steep and exposed. They hold many passages at risk of falling and provide other alpine dangers. Suitable footwear, absolute surefootedness and a head for heights as well as sufficient experience in alpine terrain are mandatory.