As other reviewers have stated, this is a gradual steady climb to the top (meaning completely downhill on the way out). The trail was moderately crowded with hikers and dogs. The bugs were insane--flies and mosquitos all over the shore of Emerald Lake. Fishing was great, lots of grayling and cutthroat. We camped near the lake and were disappointed to have multiple groups walk through our camp between 8 and 9 PM. There were probably close to 10 different groups camping that night (Saturday 7/14) and one camp stayed up drinking and yelling until after midnight. The only plus to that was that because I was awake, I left the tent to use the bathroom and caught an amazing star show around 1 AM. Would not camp here again, but I would likely hike the trail up and back for some good exercise.