If you are new to Trout Run Trail and want some feedback on it, then this post is for you! To be honest, it may not actually be helpful, and frankly, might make you groan a little. Here it is: in my humble opinion-there is no “easy” way around the trail.
Personally, when riding it, I start at the very beginning at Dug Road. I consider it the “base point.” Dug Road provides a perfect starting point. You can experience the very beginning of the trail, and all its glory. Plus ,when you do the full loop, you end up right back at Dug Road. This provides a great point for those who travel to do the trail. After all, you can park your car and go! If you are camping, a campground is actually right up the Dug Road trail.
There seems to be an equal amount of people that prefer the counter-clockwise route to the clockwise one. It’s all preference! Going counter-clockwise, you will have some intense uphill climbs, which, in order to do them successfully you must be comfortable with shifting. Otherwise, you’ll kill your knees and ultimately end up giving up and walking. After your first climb, you’ll have a fun downhill, which will bring you up to another incline, and then the trail bridge built over Hwy 9. You’ll have a fun loop down from the bridge, and then a steady incline up through the wooded area. After you accomplish that, you’ll have a fun down-hill, go through the two tunnels and another set of switchbacks. (More switchbacks?!) Once you get up those, you’ll see a blessed “downhill” sign (hooray!) and have a mostly flat ride accompanied with going down the switchbacks. Once you go over the red bridge, you'll have a steady ride past the Hatchery and back into town. That's a summary of the counter-clockwise route.
The clockwise way is essentially the exact opposite…those fun down-hills you experienced going counter? Those are now inclines. The switchbacks are steadier vs. intense and “short” (keep in mind, this is all perception from one person). You’ll have a mostly flat route all the way to the Hatchery, and then you’ll cross a little red bridge and experience climbing all the switchbacks you’ll ever want. These are long and steady, which is what makes people feel deterred by going this route. (Shift!) However, if you accomplish getting up them, you're in for some awesome down-hills!
My secret joy is that after you tackle all the hills/switchbacks, you end up with a really fun hill to go down (this is right before you hit the climb to get up/over the highway bridge). The hill you’ll come down is great for pedaling, and this just makes you go faster! However, if you are new to biking, let yourself coast down it a few times before speeding up. I did almost hit a deer riding down that hill!
Once you cross the bridge, you’ll have a hill to climb that will take you to the top of the “cut”. Then you’ll have fun switchbacks to ride down. Then you’re back down on flat ground, and go through the Dug Road Trail, you’re done!
Remember, this is just my humble recollection of how I experience going either way. Counter means you get a bunch of hills right away, and then have a nice flatter ride back to town. Clockwise means you have a nice, flatter ride to the Hatchery but you have a lot of hills at the end.
The only way to actually avoid any “painful” inclines, would be to go the Clockwise way and turn around before you go up the switchbacks past the Hatchery. (I recommend this for beginners completely new to riding). This completes the summary of the “loop” and also proves there is really no “right” or “wrong” way to tackle the trail. It’s all a matter of personal preference. The important thing is to go out and have FUN!