This is a very challenging trail NOT for the inexperienced hiker or for the faint of heart. It is moderately difficult until you get to the Shanty springs and then it is pretty much straight up and, as the write up says, "rocky" which, loosely translated means, BOULDERS. Plan on 2 + hours from Hwy 105 to the peak and, depending on your physical state at the top, an equal or greater amount of time on the way back down. And, no, it is not easier coming down. The same terrain and ascents that required superior leg strength and mobility are there on the way down with the added feature of gravity pulling you face first towards the rocks that you are trying to navigate. It is very well marked in both directions and a great experience if you are up for a full day of strenuous hiking.
Bill B. on Profile Trail
Easy at first then it starts getting steep
Just an awesome hike. Not too strenuous until you get to Shanty Springs and then tough as you scale up a stream bed to the summit. Pay attention to where you are after Shanty Springs; I would prefer more blazing on the connector to Grandfather Trail. And don't miss he Watauga View while at the top!
Hard but worth it. The trail starts off peacefully alongside a creek and the climb is steady. The real challenge came while climbing up and down boulders. There are some steep boulders to climb but there are wire railings you can use for support. The ladders weren't as difficult as I thought. You cannot be afraid of heights. Otherwise this was a fun and very challenging hike!