Lake Ella is a 6 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Kings Beach, California that features a great forest setting and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, and mountain biking and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Length6.0 miElevation gain784 ftRoute typeLoop
Dogs on leashHikingMountain bikingNature tripsForestLakePartially pavedViews
Description
Waypoints (0)
Getting There

The trail starts fairly level with a one mile walk on a paved road across Martis Dam. After the dam, trail is dirt, winding along the side of Martis Lake, cross a small stream then a sharp left turn up the hill. This is the entrance to the preserve. Suggest following Matt's Trail up the moderately steep hill, turn left at Sawmill Road, then a short easy walk to Lake Ella. Last year it was almost empty but this year it is very full. Relax at the picnic table a little while and listen to the waterfowl. For the trip back down, pass Matt's Trail and continue on to Erika's Trail which is a moderate, rapidly changing landscape experience leading to a volcanic rock viewpoint. The trail continues back down the hill and meets up with Matt's trail again. Turn left and backtrack your way down the hill and across the dam.

From Highway 267 turn east on Martis Dam Road - the corner with glider rides and skydiving signs. Follow road to the gates, parking lot on left. Trailhead at the gates.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (220)
Photos (166)
Recordings (221)
Completed (254)
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Luis Garcia
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Hiking

Flat, paved road covered with snow. Easy hike

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Mike Legay
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HikingGreat!
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Mark Mizicko
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Hiking

I thought this was a great hike, and would have given it 5 stars for the hike itself, but the closed road (for the winter months, I assume) adds several miles to the the posted mileage of ~6, which means that there are nearly 2 miles of road walking at the beginning and then again at the end of the hike. I came in closer to 10 miles. The hike itself was worth the long walk to get there, in my opinion. There were beautiful large Jeffrey Pines (and a few Ponderosa also), large boulder fields, and some great views from the scenic overlook. Considering that it is Dec 10th, the path is mostly dry, with only a few short icy spots. Lake Ella itself was pretty, but in my opinion the hike up and the hike back were even better than the lake, at least at this time of year. I will definitely try this again in the spring with the hope of seeing some migratory birds up at the lake.

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John Russo
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarDecember 5, 2020
Hiking

with the road closure you're a little over 2 miles on the road until the hike starts. nice easy walk to the lake, no snow yet.

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Frank Bien
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Hiking
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Cindy Shular
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Hiking
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Adam Latham
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Hiking

A pretty walk in the woods with an 'ok' destination.

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Roger Martin
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 1, 2020
Hiking

Great day hike! moderate overall hike. Lake has a couple of picnic tables. We saw a lot of birds. We plan on going back in the spring to see wild flowers.

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John Fillmore
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Hiking

Fun little hike. First mile or so is mostly a paved, closed-off road. Then you get into the fun with the steady climb up through pretty well-shaded canopy. Pretty well-marked along the way. Nice payoff to get up to the secluded lake Ella. Keep your eyes out on the return loop (Erika’s trail), as its starting to get a slight bit overgrown.

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Jennifer Guzman
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Hiking
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Wallace Leung
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Hiking

A little Smokey but very nice.

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Ramie Gallagher
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Hiking

We took a wrong turn...went on the Royal Flush Trail by mistake. But we turned around at some point and found our way to Ella Lake.

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rich anderson
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HikingGreat!

Been here many times, all year around. Nice hike during little snow periods. The name of the lake is actually Dry Lake.

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Albert Wu
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Hiking
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Albert Wu
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Hiking
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Kevin Stern
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Hiking

Going clockwise great uphill workout, picnic bench at Lake Ella, beautiful pine trees and lake views.

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Jaclynn Nishimi
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Hiking

Nice and sunny hike!

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Trista Bailey
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Hiking

Trail wasn’t my favorite for the Tahoe area... but it wasn’t too bad! The first mile is on pavement which is a bit of a buzz kill. The dirt portion is nice with the lake view and a little bit of water in the creek. Decent steady incline up the hill to Lake Ella which got my blood pumping good! Easy 6 miles. Lake Ella is marked as a Dry Lake all the way up on the trailheads... luckily had water in it when we arrived up top! (Beginning of June 2020) Overall not bad, would give more stars without the pavement walk in and out. Just not my style!

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Elise Riley
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Hiking

Would give this hike 3.5 stars if I could. Why? To be honest, Lake Ella itself is not that much of a showstopper. It is relatively small and murky, and not very private -- there are a few houses that back up to the lake, which makes it feel more removed from the wilderness. However, the hike Lake Ella is enjoyable. The walk starts out down a mile of paved road that leads to a beautiful view of Martis Creek Lake from the dam below which it sits. At Martis Creek Lake, you begin hiking along a dirt path that winds through Waddle Ranch Preserve. The hike is not too challenging and is for the most part shaded. You have the opportunity to take a trail (Erika's) that includes a scenic volcanic overlook which isn't the most impressive overlook in the Tahoe area by any means, but still worthwhile. The other trail (Matt's) feels like a typical walk in the woods. I am glad I checked out this area, but it will probably be awhile (if ever) before I return as there is so much else to see in the region.

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Rachel Still
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Hiking

Great little hike. Not the most beautiful I’ve ever been on but hey that’s not the bikes fault. Would definitely do again.

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Carina Rivera
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Hiking

Lake Ella is pretty murky and not something you would want to swim in, but it is nice for being close to Kings Beach and Truckee.

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Victoria Mekus
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HikingBugs
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Brooke Harper
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Hiking

A great day on the trail yesterday! Took our two kids 5 and 11. They did great! Lots of birds singing to us most of the way. Loved it.

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Scott Gylling
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Hiking

Broken shade after crossing the dam. No snow remains

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Hillary Johnson
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HikingMuddy

I didn’t complete the whole 6miles, but it was a nice walk. Pretty views and very quiet — not a lot of other people on the trail. Some spots were a little muddy, but to be expected.

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Holly Tretten
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarOctober 12, 2019
Hiking

Nice trail! Actually ended up on a fire road on the way up instead of the trail, but that was very nice. The fire road met too us right to the lake and gps showed we had been near the trail all along. Will go back again to hike the actual trail.

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Andrea Lackie
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 3, 2019
Hiking

I enjoy this trail! I consider it more like a walk than a hike but that’s not a bad thing. Not too much elevation change to get to the lake but still feels like a destination. I like how you can’t really hear the road and there is a feeling of being “away” which is nice. You can tack on a few different spurs to make it longer or change up the route. The section on the pavement is also not bad!

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Maggie Young
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarSeptember 24, 2019
Hiking

Didn’t do the full trail. I started out too late in the day, too late in the year. This starts and finishes in the sun. Lovely views.

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Lisa Johnson
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HikingNo shade

The first part of the trail is on asphalt with limited shade so it’s hot and dry on the return hike

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Sara East
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Hiking

My dog and I started this hike at 8:30 and were back to the car by 11:30. Like others have mentioned, using the GPS helped as at points it was a little confusing, but mostly because you follow the signs for Waddle Ranch Reserve for the first 1.5-2 miles and then the change to Matt's Trail. The hike up to the lake took an hour, the trail was fairly easy and lots of open forest space to look around. Once at the lake we spent 20-30 minutes enjoying the view. The lake is still extremely full, my dog enjoyed swimming after the geese and playing fetch while I sat on the bench. On the way down we took Erica's Trail. It's well marked to turn but once on it got a little hard to follow at times. At one point you get to a bench in the middle of the woods and it appears the trail goes straight or you can go right (you want to go right). You then get taken up to an overlook and then hike back down and around back to Matt's trail. My GPS clocked 1 mile on the concrete road across the dam to the start of the trailhead. I felt like there was plenty of shade in the morning time and we didn't see anyone on the trail.

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