If you go left at the visitor center, the path is flat with views of the lake. Once you pass the dam with its great view (about a mile in), it gets hilly and you quickly move away from the lake. After 2 miles you start to hit very steep hills and no benches. Parking lot was very tight and crowded. Due to the steep hills, I would go right at the beginning if i ever make it back so you get that section done while you're still fresh.
Used to hike this trail almost every week in college in the late eighties and early nineties. We would start at our apartment near Avent Ferry and Gorman, walk to the trail, do the trail and head home about 5 miles in all. After my dog died I didn't have the heart to ever hike it again. Her favorite phrase was "want go to the lake?"
Steve H. on Lake Johnson East Loop Trail
Trail is paved the whole way. Little long to go without a bathroom if you have kids. Wear good shoes, the trail has some hills.