Rating as 4 stars because of how undermaintained the trail is.
My wife and I come here quite often with our toddlers (they hike it too). I'll start by saying that we only hike from the Defeated Creek trailhead and, because the children walk too, are limited with how far we get. When we carry the kids, we have gone to the first major bend in the trail at one of the small inlets.
The only challenging part we've encountered is in the first half mile, during which the trail steadily gains elevation, forks between easy and hard trails, and suddenly descends down to the river bank. In fact, the only hard part about the hard trail is the downward scramble you have to do. For the first year coming, we didn't even know the hard trail was the hard trail and did it with the kids on our backs. This trail did teach me the amazing properties that hiking poles bring to hiking. It has 5 star views all year. Expect to see plenty of deer (read: watch your dogs) and the diverse flora throughout.
But be warned! Wear shorts so you can see ticks before they imbed in your skin. There is no shortage of the tiny blood suckers and they are sneaky. Also, the trails have many fallen trees that block the trail in certain areas. Skirting around them is easy though. At some points the grasses hang onto the trail (probably where I keep picking the ticks up), but it isn't a big problem if you like more primitive trails. Apparently there is a backcountry camping area. We will be backpacking it soon if this is true.
It's a must hike trail and we love it.

My friend and I just completed this trail. FYI...it's NOT 9.8 total. It's 9.8 out and 9.8 back. The trail is nicely marked, but overgrown. We were making funny noises to scare away any snakes (but we didn't see any). There are some random mile markers that don't appear to pertain to the trail so don't go by those. This app is much more accurate for mileage purposes.
I would like to say that she and I are both on a weight loss journey and we did the whole damn thing!!!
There was another guy who said we would have a hard time doing it without boots and a trekking pole, but we did it in tennis shoes and with a stick to knock spiderwebs out of the way

Hell of a hike! Took me about three hours just to get from one trailhead to the the other. It was a very slow hike.

Spiderwebs covered the trail, so I got about 200 yards in taking about 15 spiderwebs to the face before I decided I needed to wave a stick in front of my face the whole time.

Tons of parts were overgrown and the trail was difficult to find at times. Looks like there is very little trail maintenance.

However, I thought it was an awesome trail. I would definitely suggest doing this in early Spring or Fall though.

Also, I didn't pass anyone so if you are hiking alone I would be cautious!

gorgeous lake view! i hike every week and to do the whole thing and back was brutal. definitely difficult. loved the challenge!

tough hike and if it's warm out dress for the heat. but the views make it all worth it, and sneak off trail when you get close to the rivers. edge and have a nice spot to chill.

Beautiful trail! Trail snakes in and out near the river. Some difficult terrain uphill and mud but fairly maintained. Beautiful wildflowers spotted. Trillium, Trout Lilies, and Falling Stars. Trail is hard to spot from the road. Must turn off onto Scenic Overlook and trail is nearby. Definitely a fun day hike.

Trail clearly marked with blue paint. Some spots leveled out while others were aggressive. Views are awesome. We hiked roughly 2 miles in from the Bearwaller gap trailhead (not overlook end). Wear proper gear. Some spots are not for your average nature walker. Don't underestimate the split of easy and difficult paths. Difficult route is for slightly more experienced hikers. Can't wait to come back!

Awesome trail. Gorgeous views! I would rate it as moderate, not hard, but it's still a challenging hike. Pretty lite traffic. We hiked it in early March on a perfect day for hiking; maybe saw 10-12 other hikers the entire way. Loved it!

BEAUTFUL views. My boyfriend and I love to go hiking and this one was one of our favorites. Lovely hilly area and the views were amazing. Don't under estimate it tho. Going down is fine but when you come back up it's a workout. I would love to come back again. Completely clean, trails well marked, bathrooms and just a beautiful view