Ellis Peak Trail

MODERATE 17 reviews
#14 of 102 trails in

Ellis Peak Trail is a 6.3 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Homewood, CA that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible from July until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

6.3 miles 1728 feet Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

mountain biking

road biking

trail running

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

Directions from Truckee: Travel Hwy. #80 south and drive to Tahoe City. Continue south on #89 from Tahoe City for another 4.2 miles to Caspian Picnic Area. Turn west on Blackwood Canyon Road. The road follows Blackwood creek for 2.3 miles, crosses the creek and then climbs 4.8 miles to Barker Pass. Ellis Peak Trailhead is located on the south side of the road where the pavement ends on the summit.

hiking
3 months ago

Really beautiful trail. Slightly intense climb in the beginning but epic views at the top and a lake at the other end. I'd say slightly more than moderate like the others are saying.

hiking
3 months ago

Would rate this as more than moderate - but we managed with two ten year olds, a 14 year old, a 16 year old, two parents, and two grand parents aged 71, one who had a hip replacement 4 years ago. A beautiful trail with remarkable sites of various lakes. As we reached the final ascent to the peak, the trail could have been marked more clearly - we chose the more difficult ascent, which was over loose scree and boulders. We must have missed the cairn to direct us to the right.

hiking
4 months ago

Great trail and beautiful views of the surrounding valleys. Not many views of Tahoe if that's what you're looking for. Also, it's a 15 minute drive uphill from the lake. I would rate this slightly above Moderate. There are some steep uphill and downhill sections.

hiking
4 months ago

Great views. Well worth the (unexpected) ascent/descent in the middle!

4 months ago

hiking
5 months ago

Gorgeous July 3rd with wildflowers, gorgeous views...and a few spots of slippery dirt.

9 months ago

Michel Floyd, if you notice the sign at the Barker Pass side or Ellis Peak trailhead it says dirt bikes are allowed on the trail. Friends and I ride that trail and have been since the early 70's. Then there was no or very few hikers in the area at all. To my knowledge it is the only single track trail in the immediate Lake Tahoe area that motorcycles are allowed on. We are courteous when we do come across hikers and slow to a crawl or stop in the case of a dog running ahead with no leash. Which I see often. The only thing that is not cool are the hikers that will intentionally block the trail. I am not a expert but I think a hiker taking one step to the left or ride is more friendly to the trail than a motorcycle trying to go around the hiker. All things said. Hope you enjoyed the view from up there as much as we do.

hiking
1 year ago

love the view of Tahoe! as well as the view of Hell Hole to the west. great hike to get perspective of our beautiful Sierras! quite the climb but so worth it. saw very few people, finished in the dark while jogging down the last mile.

hiking
1 year ago

Wonderful hike! This was one of my first when I came to Tahoe. I was only acclimated for about 2-3 weeks so it was much more difficult to breath (coming from 200 feet elevation). Starts with a lot of steep climbing but levels off. When it first levels off you get a breathtaking view of the lakes around you. Then you make your way through some leveled areas, down a steep grade, and you'll start moderately difficult ascent. This is worth the hike (make sure you follow the correct trail back bc it can become confusing a one point). When you get to the top you can see the whole lake. There is a geocache in a tree nearby if you look well (sorry for the spoiler cachers!)

hiking
2 years ago

The round trip is 6.3 miles and will take approximately 4 hours with some effort. There are many ups and downs and a false summit along the way. Once you get to Ellis Peak from the trail, the true peak is to the right. There is a stone wall which provides a nice spot to take in the vistas. Be careful locating the correct path back down as it can be confusing. If you get off course, you'll descend of course and end up along way from the trail head and your car.

hiking
2 years ago

4 stars for the scenery and the workout; minus one if there are dirt bikers!

If you're looking for a 3-4 hour scenic high Sierra hike with steep (not mountain goat!) climbs, and don't mind sharing the trail with an occasional mountain bike or dirt bike, you might want to check out the Ellis Peak Trail, accessed via Barker Pass Road. It's a good summer or fall hike and it's dog-friendly. Be sure to add in drive time to the trailhead - about 30 minutes from Tahoe City and about 20 minutes from Homewood.

You'll find the trail listed online or you can pick up a free map at Sugar Pine Point SP entrance. At the trailhead, the sign reads 5 miles to Ellis Peak, round trip. Don't be fooled! Using MapMyRun, we measured it at 7.2 miles out-and-back.

Starting out, you'll be dining on dust for the first mile as you grind out the first of three steep climbs to the peak. Don't get discouraged! At the top of this hill, you'll be rewarded with sweeping vistas as you hike gradually uphill on decomposing granite. To your right, Loon Lake in the distance. Next, you'll drop steeply for a mile through forest where strangely, many trees have had their tops ripped off.

You'll eventually cross another trail to go straight up the hill. This second steep climb gets you to a ridge where you'll see a trail heading to the peak. It's a brief glute-burner for your final climb to the top, where ya can plant your flag, eat lunch and enjoy the 360º views.

Save some energy for the way back, where you still have one short but steep uphill, and a final mile-long dusty climb to go. Expect a mountain bike or two; hopefully you won't encounter any dirt bikers as they'll raise plumes of dust.

Directions: From Highway 89 in Homewood, drive 2 miles north on 89 to Tahoe Pines. Turn left on Barker Pass Road (road sign is poorly placed, 100 ft. west of 89) and bear left at the fork (3.7 miles). Continue uphill for approx. 4.7 miles, winding up the side of the mountain where you'll encounter sharp switchbacks shortly before the paved road ends. Park anywhere; the trailhead is just up the hill on your left.

For you navsat hikers, the Ellis Peak lat/long is - http://bit.ly/Z5KXsr

The roundup:

Distance: 7.2 miles
Time: 3-4 hours plus time at the top
Difficulty: Strenuous, with steep hills in loose footing. 1,000 feet elevation gain.
Highlights: Awesome views of Lake Tahoe, rim views, downhill return.
Sucks: Dirt bikers possible. And, it's a 30 minute drive from Tahoe City.
Water: Two liters.
Dogs: Allowed!

hiking
2 years ago

Feels much longer than 5 mi roundtrip especially because there's a huge downhill then back uphill in the middle. The net elevation gain isn't that large but total gain is quite a bit. Several reviewers below appear to have stopped at the first peak which is not actually Ellis Peak. The views from there are spectacular too but it's not the same as the actual peak which is craggy rock devoid of trees, thereby providing 360 views. Difficulty is moderate, there's nothing really steep. Some reviews say there's no water for dogs but Ellis Lake is only a half-mile off the trail.

To reach the trailhead, drive up Barker Pass Road *until it turns to dirt.* The trailhead will be on your left. There are other trailheads lower down which won't take you to the peak.

The serenity of the hike was somewhat interrupted by the dirt bikes and quads that are running on OHV trails nearby. One dirt bike even came down the hiking trail to the trailhead when we were on our way back which wasn't cool.

2 years ago

We enjoyed this hike. I would say the description of moderate is accurate, with the first part being the most strenuous. Beautiful views, wild flowers and lakes on both sides. This would be a great backpacking trip, around the lake many people had made fire pits, so it's perfect! My Garmin tracked it as closer to 6 miles to the lake. Did not go to the peak.

hiking
3 years ago

This was quite the awesome hike. Although they say moderate it might be moderate to difficult for some. There are lots of up and down climbs.
This hike is definitely not for the faint of heart. But the rewards are great bring lots of water and some food to energize you for the entire trip. Also at the top, it's fairly windy so bring a jacket maybe a flashlight in case it gets dark. Our little 13 pound Rat Terrier made the hike but he did require water is well and a little bit of our chips but he did well. Lol there were amazing is of Lake Tahoe as well as hell hole reservoir . Definitely worth the hike.

hiking
3 years ago

Moderate climb out of the gate but views up top were AMAZING!! You can see the entire desolation wilderness as well as Rubicon Jeep trail Worth it for a quick backcountry trip!!!

hiking
4 years ago

A steep hike for about a mile up to the peak. We hiked it in the end of June and it was very windy and cold at the top. Amazing views made it all worth it.

hiking
6 years ago

It was a steep climb to the top, but once on top gave a great view of all around you. On the way back down it was really dusty from the loose dirt getting kicked up from the person in front of you. Took about an hour to get to the top.