For my first hike, since leaving the USMC, this was a challenge. Pulling up at 8 am, we began at the MAP SIGN, well below the metal gate where the actual trail begins. This provided about a 1 mile warm up prior to the really tuff stuff.
After the metal gate, you walk 1/2 a mile to a Y intersection. We took the right fork to commence the loop. Instantly the terrain from a modest 2-3 degree grade to a 15 or greater grade. Very steep and littered with loose rocks. Many small brooks crossing your path, no deeper than a few inches. after 3 miles of nearly continuious climb, you come out and a north facing ledge looking out over the valley and canyon, back towards the city. Magnificent views. Grade continues up, but reducing to 5-5 degree till the summit. Again, amazing views.
Coming down is a hazard and is to be taken slowly. VERY steep, many loose rocks, narrow trail, and many eye level stumps, twigs, and branches.
As a former infantry Marine, I found this trail to be a challenge. It is a well laid path, that is just physically challenging for those not in moderate to high levels of physical fitness. Very happy with the entire trail and experience.
NOTE......If you study the map at the base of the trail closely, you will find some other trails that come off of the main route. These are considered advanced and lengthen the route to 20+ miles, vs. the moderate 6 hr., 8 mile loop of the main trail......
Going again Sunday.....loved it.