Hard. I am humbled every time. They are rugged, slippery, and surprisingly steep. I often find myself on my hands and knees, scrambling up rocks and grasping roots and trees. The winter hiking is even more intense as the trail is usually a sheet of ice once you get past about 3,000 feet in elevation. Microspikes and good poles are essential. On some peaks you even need full-on crampons.
It’s borderline mountaineering at times. I’m in top physical condition, but I’m still exhausted and sore after a day of hiking the High Peaks.
But beautiful? Oh yes, and the ruggedness is part of the charm. You get used to it after a while. It has changed me and when I’m not there I’m dreaming of getting back as soon as I can. It’s truly magical up there.