A half mile of steep switchbacks may take the wind out of a runners' sails or dissuade them completely. But once on the ridge, the more reasonable grades and views should be enjoyable. Don't get to distracted though, as the footing can be rocky in spots.
The Ellis Peak Trail sets a challenging tone from the start as it takes runners up steep, forested, switchbacks to the ridge above. Along the ridgeline, the trail pleasantly ambles through sparse trees and alpine ground cover. The views up close and far away make a great sight.
At three-quarters of a mile, the climb steepens noticeably before shifting away from the ridgeline and beginning a gentle descent. The tree cover quickly deepens and remains around the trail most of the way to the top. After another half-mile, the descent comes to an end as the trail eases into a gradual climb.
A welcome detour presents itself at the intersection with a dirt road. For a great lunch spot or place to take a break, follow the Ellis Lake Connector
to the north for .2 miles to reach a small lake.
Back on the Ellis Peak Trail, the climbing steepens as the route continues along a dirt road. About a 100 yards farther, follow another road as it leads to the east. After .3 miles, a turn to the left soon brings runners to the top of Ellis Peak for impressive views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding area.