ELLIS PEAK (8,740') CLASS 1
Location: 2.5 miles SW of Homewood, CA
Drive: Take Highway 89 to the paved Barker Pass Road "NF 03" with sign "Blackwood Canyon Rec Area," which is 4.4 miles south from Tahoe City (junction of Highway 89 and Highway 28) or 2.1 miles north from Homewood ski area. Take this road west about 7 miles to Barker Pass, where primitive parking at the road's summit, on the left (west) is somewhat haphazard. There is some space along the main dirt road.
Climb: A sign at the upper end of the primitive parking states "Ellis Peak 3 miles." Hike this trail up and then along and over an aesthetic, open ridge. The trail then descends the other side. Climb gradually back up and, after 2.5 miles, cross a dirt road. A sign "Ellis Peak 1/2," points the way. Keep following this signed trail on the other side, and, after another 0.4 mile, intersect another dirt road. Go right on this road, and then in about 100 feet, go left at a fork on another road. This dirt road circles uphill. The summit here is a distance to the north. A crag visible from this dirt road has a steep track leading to it, but this runs into class 2 rocks. Take the good use trail departing right (northward) from this sloping dirt road circle. It goes along the east side of this rocky ridge, then climbs to the rock ring that comprises the highpoint.
Drive: Take Highway 89 to Rubicon-McKinney Road, following the sign to Rubicon-McKinney OHV access. This turnoff road is 8 miles south from Tahoe City (junction of Highway 89 and Highway 28) or 19.4 miles north from the South Tahoe "Y (junction of U.S. 50 and Highway 89 north)." Drive west through a subdivision, essentially following the plentiful signs to "Miller Lake Access Rubicon Trail." Quickly described, one takes Rubicon-McKinney Road, left on Bellevue Ave, right on McKinney Road, straight ahead on Springs Ct, left on Rubicon-McKinney Road, then straight to the junction of Evergreen Way and Rubicon-McKinney Road. Go straight ahead (west) onto a narrow, well-paved road. Continue on this main, paved road 1.6 miles to the end of pavement and a large, gravel, "staging area" for 4WDs. Park. There are two outhouses here, and two big boards, with a map.
Climb: Continue on the obvious 4WD road west which will eventually lead to Miller Lake in about 0.5 mile. After 0.3 mile from the staging area, a jeep track signed "40" with a USFS gate goes right (north), climbing past Buck Lake and then eventually up to join Route A. Try consulting a USFS map for the specific road layout.
WINTER SKI ASCENT: One could buy a ticket and ride a lift from Homewood Ski Area, then, with permission from the resort, follow a jeep road to the top. The Barker Pass Road is probably never plowed. Route B is another possibility. The Rubicon-McKinney subdivision approach roads are generally plowed.
TRIP STATS: Route A, 1,400 feet gain with 400 feet gain on the return, 3 miles one way; Route B, 2,300 feet gain, 5 miles one way; winter ski ascent, from the top of the lift, over 1,000 feet gain, 1.5 miles one way.
Notes: This peak goes well
with Twin Peaks from Barker Pass, as the trailheads are close
together. Ellis Peak is ridden by many ORV users, as well as being
an easy hiking goal, so the once register had received many sign-ins.
The Sierra Club's Ludlow Hut is located about 3 miles south of the peak near Richardson Lake, which may be reached by a road, then cross-country, starting along McKinney Creek (Route B). Ambitious tourers could ascend Ellis Peak while staying at the hut.
The topo map shows that a jeep road ascends upward on the east side of the peak, which can be accessed from Homewood Ski Area or by a Homewood ski lift. This route possibility has reportedly been skied, although public access by this route has not been determined.