If I had to do it over again, I'd have hiked the trail counter clockwise to make sure I hit the more exposed portion earlier in the morning. This hike is great though and has it all- wild flowers, deer, lizards, views, and trees. The top of Bergen Peak was worth the hike. The hike was perfect for me in terms of difficulty. I did the hike in 4 hours, not including stopping on top of the peak.
Loved running this trail. I started from the Pioneer Trail across from Evergreen Parkway and it was a bit over 12 miles. The climb to the peak was long but also somewhat gradual. I was able to run the entirety although it was quite a breather. Saw many deer along the way. As I ran this trail in winter, it was a slippery route back down along Too Long Trail. There is more exposure to sun on this side and the occasional melt and refreeze caused some ice buildup. Just mind the corners and you'll be fine.
I had no idea Elk Meadows park was so big. Definitely check the map after you park so you know your location, there is another parking lot not too far from the main lot, and grab a trail map. I added nearly 2 miles on to my trip because I simple went back to the wrong parking lot. This hike I learned who you hike with does matter...Water and food are a must. Do not do this trail without enough of both. This trail did take me and my friend nearly 6 hours to complete. My friend had to learn the hard way. Anyways, I did not find the trail overly strenous until coming back down. the downhill switch back if you do the loop can be a little hard on the knees. The views from Bergen Peak overlook Evergreen and Mt. Evans, which was very nice. Be aware there are a lot of Mountain Bikers and tons of trail runners when I went in April, so I imagine in the summer this place is hoppin' with folks.