Ellis Peak Trail

MODERATE 62 reviews
#18 of 145 trails in

Ellis Peak Trail is a 6.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Homewood, California that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from July until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

6.2 miles
1,666 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash


mountain biking

road biking

trail running




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.

1 month ago

The lower and middle gates are closed. I walked the road to the trail head. As of 5/29/18, starting about mile 6 of the 7 mile road there was a ton of snow still on the road. About mile 6 1/2, there was a river from snowmelt going over/through the road damaging the pavement. It will be awhile before the gates are opened.

Because of the deep snow, finding the trail right after the trail head was very difficult. I made it halfway along the actual trail and decided not to go any further do to the added work of the 10 foot snow drifts.

All and all it was a great day. Ended up just shy of 17 miles with my 35 lbs. pack.

I will go again after the snow melts.

1 month ago

You can't get here yet, can't drive to the trailhead, the forest roads are still closed. I guess you could bike into the trailhead if you wanted but we were unprepared and turned around.

7 months ago

Love hiking around Tahoe!

9 months ago

This was beautiful, but harder than Moderate! Took us about 5 hours. there are some shale areas a bit slippery on the slope. gorgeous views, wildflowers, and trees. shaded most of the way.

10 months ago

Quick hike with Great views. Be ready for elevation.

10 months ago

Great hike, great views of Lake Tahoe! Still can't even reach the TH due to all of the snow on the road! Probably have to wait until August!

10 months ago

This trail starts out a little tough but it is worth it! It was an amazing view, I would hike it again!!

11 months ago

We have hiked this trail many times. The initial climb is a challenge but when you climax you see a beautiful view. The backside still has large patches of snow that proved too difficult to stay on the trail. We turned around halfway. The wildflowers were magnificent

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The road to the trailhead is temporarily closed until the snow melts.... it's about a 4.5mile hike on pavement/snow just to get to the trailhead currently! Still beautiful but length of hike is doubled and there is alot of snow on trail-- we turned around once we got to the trailhead

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Wonderful. Not overly trekked, great views.

Monday, September 05, 2016

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.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

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.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

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.

Monday, July 25, 2016

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

Monday, July 04, 2016

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

Thursday, February 18, 2016

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.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

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.

Monday, January 26, 2015

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!)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

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.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

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!

Monday, July 21, 2014

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.

Monday, June 23, 2014

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.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

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.

Monday, July 29, 2013

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!!!

Friday, June 29, 2012

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.

Monday, September 13, 2010

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.

15 days ago

16 days ago

1 month ago

off road driving
8 months ago

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