It's a pretty significant climb right away, but the big trees and lush greenery are worth it. The west side of the loop is steeper, but shorter. East side is much more gentle, but longer. We didn't know this, and chose to go up to the summit on the west side. Glad we did - it was nice to be rewarded with a more gentle way down. The downed trees aren't as big of a hassle as others make it seem - that's just part of hiking in the woods (and I enjoyed the extra challenge). We will do this one again, despite lack of stunning views.