Great trail and for this 53 year old I would rate it slightly above moderate. There were a couple of stream crossings I had to bushwhack around as they were too steep for me with my pack on with photo gear. I was confused on the direction of the trail so this might help others. Park by the towers and walk back down the road and take the FLT on the same side as the towers. Just a few hundred feet in turn left of the White blazes and take the Orange. Keep going until you see the mailbox and this is the loop junction. You can go straight or turn left and just follow the Orange blazes. Watch closely as a couple of spots the blazes are tricky to see. A great hike with a nice little stream at the low point. Ignore my time on my recording as I stopped and set up a tripod and took some pics. Also I walked off the trail a bit to take some shots so my distance might be a bit longer also.
This was a VERY difficult trail to complete, not because of the terrain but because it is not a well marked trail and VERY easy to get off the correct path. The Google gps has different coordinates than the trail actually is, so I couldn't rely on that and it got me lost for about an hour and a half. I recommend you go with someone's who's done it before. A lot of the trail is up hill and I swear it was up hill starting and finishing. A frustrating hike for me but the woods are beautiful.
This was a nice hike as a backup plan yesterday. I had planned to do Slide Mtn in the Catskills but it seemed like it would be too wet in that direction. There were some nice inclines on the Van Lone loop but nothing over 30 or 35 degrees. So I would say the difficulty of 'hard' is a bit much. I managed this hike fine without a walking stick so I'd say 'moderate' at most. The straight part of the trail was a dirt access road so not as hikey as I likey. But overall it was a very nice hike with good scenery.
Well-marked, well-traveled trail for the most part but not clear where to divert from the access road when making the 5.8 mile loop. Drought conditions had the river bed virtually dry and stagnant water made for a few bugs. Decent incline at times but no real vistas. Not a bad trip from Ithaca (35 minutes).
The whole trail is very scenic. We personally got a bit confused at the end of the straight path, but we ended up ok. Trail keeper is very polite. Careful on where you park your car, because it could mean quite the climb at the end or at the beginning!
Hiked this loop with the family today. I really enjoyed this trail. Personally, I would rate this hike as moderate instead of hard. There were some challenging climbs but easy enough to do while carrying a toddler on our back. I will definitely be hiking this trail again and again!