Terribly marked. As the sun started to go down, we couldn't find our way out. What was suppose to be a 3 hour hike turned into 6 hours. Very disappointed. However, just around the corner is a short, well-marked trail called Nancytown Falls Trail. It isn't listed on ALLTrails...but it's worth seeking out. It's located on a gravel road (probabaly a Forrest Service Rd), but there are only a couple spots to park. Very short hike (approx. 1.0 mi. in and out) with a beautiful waterfall about 0.5 mi. in from the trailhead.
I would skip the loop, park at the Nancytown Lake, pick up trail here below dam, hike to Russell Lake dam and back instead of the loop. Very little traffic on far side of lake, LOTS of deer, turtles, ducks, herons, frogs, and evena few rat snakes. The final bit before approaching Russell Lake dam was a bit high (July) but watched 2 deer drinking water just above dam, wading in water for a good 5 mins. If you cross the dam, you walk on a jeep road, then cross road and have to navigate a lot od downed trees and a lot of rubbish along lake from fishermen. I have hiked around lake multiple times and decided the Nancytown and back is far more enjoyable. You will not only walk along lake, along the various inlets, but also into the woods - was a surprising variety of environments. Easily did the 6 miles (from Nancytown Group campsite picking up Loop trail) in under 2hrs. Of you park at the Nancytown Lot, can cut off at least 3/4 of a mile from my route.
Sadly, I did encounter fair amount of of beer cans, bottles, and general trash at certain spots - be a champ and bring a trash bag to tote out what you see. I ran out of room.
Elevation is negligible.
Really good lake hike. Most are too short to worry about but at over 5 miles total length this one is worth the trip. If you are in the area and have a couple of hours to spare you should stop by. Quite flat, easy, and very nice.
Only 2 areas to consider:
1. If you follow the actual map you will dead-end at the water. Take the side road called nanceytown to the trailhead. It is a lot that sits to the right after a side road on the left. If you go in at the trailhead marker you will not complete the hike!. Instead, go down the stairs next to the dam, cross the wooden bridge at the bottom, then turn right at the top of the stone steps. This takes you along the approach spur to Ladyslipper (153). About 1/4 mile you will turn right to go along the lake and that's where you pick up the Lake Russell Loop (73). Follow it around the lake, make the call on whether or not to cross the dam at the South side of the lake, then trek back through the day use facilities and picnic tables, along the road, and back to the parking area.
This trail has easy footing most of the way, but be warned, the first one and a half mile is a constant incline. Once you get past that, the main thing you need to worry about is that the trail is not marked well when it is interrupted. (There are several crossings with gravel roads, and, weirdly, a huge open expanse that has been tilled.) This turned our hike from 6.2 miles to 8.9 miles. It was a big difference, given what we were expecting! If trail markers were improved this would be a much more enjoyable experience...