How to Calculate Incline

••• James Osmond/The Image Bank/GettyImages

Incline is a word that is used to describe an increase in height or elevation over a given distance. The level of an incline is important to determine whether or not certain people or objects will be able to make it up an incline. For example, a person in a wheelchair would have a very hard time climbing up a steep incline. If a highway or railroad had a steep incline, a truck or train engine might not be strong enough to make it up safely.

Calculating Incline

    Determine the amount the terrain rises between the starting point and the ending point by subtracting the initial elevation from the final elevation. For example, if the elevation at the bottom of a hill is two hundred feet and the elevation at the top is one thousand feet, you would subtract two hundred from one thousand and get eight hundred.

    Determine how long the incline is by finding the horizontal distance between the starting point and the ending point. For example, if the terrain were flat and it would be ten thousand feet from the start of the hill to the end, ten thousand would be the horizontal distance.

    Divide the increase in elevation by the horizontal distance. For example, divide eight hundred by ten thousand. This gives you 0.08, which is the slope.

    Multiple the slope by one hundred to get the percentage of the incline. In this case, 0.08 multiplied by one hundred gives you an eight percent incline.

    Things You'll Need

    • Calculator
    • Measuring device (such as a ruler or measuring tape)


    • To find the horizontal distance, a map can be very useful because it is flat.


    • When calculating the horizontal distance, do not use the length of the road because since the road is on an angle, it will be longer than the horizontal distance.


About the Author

Mark Kennan is a writer based in the Kansas City area, specializing in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."