The trail begins just before the Belknap Campground. The trail is well marked and there is a turnout for 2-3 vehicles.
Right from the start, the climb is steep (15+ degrees). The trail is well kept, but there are branches and obstacles along the way including fallen trees that you'll navigate over or around. You may lose sight of a clear trail along the way, but a clear path is never more than 20 feet away or out of view. As you reach mile two, you'll begin to see the Giant Sequoias scattered, and become more frequent after you see the Forest Service signs indicating that a Giant Sequoia grove is ahead.
There is a viewpoint and a place to rest at about 3.5 miles. Looking north, you can see across the canyon, Cedar Slope and in the distance, Jordan Lookout. Continuing on, the trail climbs another 3.5 miles to end at an intersection with the Summit Trail. The section just past the viewpoint is one of the steepest, but once that's done, the grade mellows out over the last few miles.
The Summit Trail can be accessed via the town of Ponderosa by continuing on Highway 190 past Camp Nelson another 30 minutes. Because of the continuous grade, taking the Summit Trail from Ponderosa, and then continuing down the Bear Creek Trail
is a popular route for mountain biking.