Back to index Ellis Peak Hike
Trip Date:  06/30/2014

: 7.0 Miles

Vertical Gain: 1100'

Group Size: 1

Hike Rating:  Easy   Moderate    Hard    Strenuous
MarletteLake & Flume Trail Route
Download GPX GPX for this trip
Ellis Peak Trail Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 04.335  W 120 13.866     End Coordinates:   Same as starting coordinates
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   Take Highway 89 on the west side of Lake Tahoe to the Barker Pass road turnoff south of Tahoe City.  (Note: this gate is closed during the winters.)  Drive a little over 7 miles up Barker Pass road, parking at the trailhead were the paved section of this road ends.  There is parking along the road and also off-road in a spot for 4-5 vehicles right next to the trail sign for Ellis Peak.
Hazards of Note:   Halfway to the peak there are some sheer dropoffs to the north of the trail.  Keep children with you.
The trail gains a significant amount of altitude early on, then loses most of it before regaining it at the destination peak.
Crowd Factor:   Moderate.  There were a few hikers out enjoying this trail even on a weekday.
General Notes:
From the parking at the trailhead, you will immediately begin to gain elevation via a series of switchbacks through a forested area above Barker Pass road.  There are a number of nice viewpoints just off the trail near many of the turns in the switchbacks.
About 3/4 of a mile in the switchbacks end, and you find yourself suddenly presented with breathtaking panorama as you come to the top of a small ridge, looking south into the heart of the Desolation Wilderness.  With the abundance of wildflowers during this early summer hike, it was a place to just stand and stare for the longest time.  To the west are spectacular views of Loon Lake as well, including the Rubicon Jeep trail which can just be made out with binoculars.
This section continues up a small ridge in the open sun, and within a mile you start a long stretch of downhill through a forested area where you lose much of the elevation you initially gained on the hike.
As you near the peak, there is a signed junction to go to the left for Ellis Lake, straight for Ellis Peak, and then there is a road to the right which connects with another trail and the Rubicon Jeep area but is not signed.  Continue straight toward the peak.  As you near the peak, the trail will wind around the back side of it (on the east side,) eventually taking you right to the top.

A picture of Ellis Peak from a couple of miles further past the trailhead. Ellis Peak from Barker Pass Road
The inauspicious sign indicating the start of the hike. Trailhead marker
Great view from the first ridge into the heart of Desolation Wilderness. Stunning views at the first ridge
A closer look at the Desolation Wilderness and Crystal Range. More views to the Southeast
Loon Lake to the west.  Also visible are Spider Lake, Buck Island, and many others along the Rubicon Jeep trail. Loon Lake
Ellis Peak trail up to the first rise, which is almost immediately followed by about 6-700 feet of elevation loss. Wildflowers amongst the Aspen
Looking across Blackwood Canyon at Twin Peaks. Twin Peaks
Pyramid Peak, Mt. Agassiz and Mt. Price from left to right off in the distance. Crystal Range     
My hiking partner for much of the trail, Gerry, who I met a couple of miles into the trek, scoping out the views from the top of the mountain.   Gerry at the peak
Another look at Twin Peaks from the top of Ellis Peak. Twin Peaks from Ellis Peak
Looking at Lake Tahoe and Mt. Rose far in the distance from the top of Ellis Peak. Lake Tahoe
Proof of my successful summit of my 20th OGUL peak. Yours truly
Another look at Desolation in the distance coming back down from the peak. Desolation again
Some amazing rock formations just below the peak which reminded me a lot of Pride Rock from "The Lion King." Rock formations
Blackwood Canyon and Blackwood Ridge on the right side in the distance. Blackwood Canyon
One last look in the distance before heading back into the forest section near the trailhead. One last look
Heading toward the Marlette Lake dam and the start of the Marlette Flume trail section. One more view of the lake
GPX images of the hike. GPS track of hike