The first few hundred feet of trail (from east-to-west) consists of a short climb with big curvy turns. When you finish this climb, the trail settles into what represents its overall characteristics: rugged rockiness. There is a fair amount of bedrock and in between that is mostly broken and crushed rock...some of it a bit sharp. Since the trail parallels the ridge itself (Hawk Ridge - the trail's namesake), there isn't a lot of sustained climbing or descent....just undulation.
The rattle-factor of this trail makes it tough to classify as "easy". It's probably most accurately described as "intermediate". Note that if this trail proves a bit too much of a beginner, there are ample opportunities to "opt-out" by cutting just a few feet, uphill, through the woods to run the gravel road just above (Skyline Pkwy).
The views to the southeast are stunning and relentless. You're never more than a few seconds away from a good place to 'pull over' and take in the views of Lake Superior and the City of Duluth below. It wouldn't be uncommon to see a ship or two coming or going from the harbor, and the cluster of sailboats ducking it out in one of the Duluth Yacht Club's week night races. There is one particularly good spot, approximately 1 mile from the east end, where trail skirts around jutting dome of bedrock giving trail users a particularly great view.
Near the western end, the trail crosses to the north side of Skyline Parkway (gravel road). This section rolls nicely up and over a rocky hill. There is a 900' section of road-running on Amity St (gravel) just east of Jean Duluth Road.