dogs on leash
Pretty simple trail, lots of steps and lots of great views of the waterfall! Didn't make it all the way because we were loosing daylight but I would definitely come back. Found a cool cave with a fire pit worth exploring. Plan for a much longer ascent versus descent. Didn't start recording until descent.
From the Humpback Rocks parking lot, I hiked straight up the Humpback Rocks. The 700-foot climb was strenuous but I was rewarded with the spectacular views. From the Rocks I went down by following the Appalachian Trail and back to the parking lot. The loop, as recorded by Alltrails, was total 3.3 miles with 1017 feet elevation. I had a good hike.
I did not dislike this trail per se, but it just wasn't as challenging nor as 'scenic' as I had hoped. In my opinion, none of the elevation gains or technical areas really warrant a Hard rating. As others have noted, the trail is very rocky, and might put a hard strain on your feet and ankles without proper footwear.
You can do either the full circuit of ~10 miles or hike counterclockwise to Signal Knob and back and do about 7.5-8 miles. Either way, you will get a solid workout
Park in the lot behind the fish hatchery. Climb the gravel road until you intersect with the AT and then follow the AT to the clearing at the top. If you can't safely climb the rock dome from the front, go around to the side or back. Spy Rock is very steep but the 360 degree panorama is worth it. If you do Spy Rock, then don't miss nearby Campbell Falls.
We hiked the trail in January it was about 38 degrees but nice sunny. We hiked with three kids age 10,8, and a 4 year old. There were patches of ice it was actually kinda busy too. It's beautiful and very enjoyable. The kids had a blast! We stopped and had lunch on a bench on the way up and met these folks in the mid 70's and they had made it to the top and said it took them three try's I was impressed with their story and so PROUD of them! At times when the icy patches were on slick rocks it was right treacherous but we did it. It is a good feeling at the top so stick it out! It's WORTH IT!