Running Lake Ella Trail (Truckee, CA)

Recently I ran the Lake Ella Trail in Truckee, CA. Lake Ella is roughly 6 miles with the first (and the same last) mile as pavement. After that, the rest is all dirt or singletrack. There are roughly 780 feet of elevation gain on this loop. The downhill is equally as challenging since it’s rocky and technical.

I wish there were a way to cut out the first and last mile so you could only enjoy the dirt. I’ve heard sometimes you can park across Martis Dam, but when we went, it was closed.

The first mile of Lake Ella Trail is pavement. It’s easy and beautiful to go over Martis Dam. I just wish it wasn’t pavement. The dam can get windy since you are out in exposed water. After the first mile, you head into singletrack and dirt roads for about 4 miles until you pop back out to get back.

Running Lake Ella Trail
The first and last mile of the loop.

After you cross Martis Dam, you’ll find yourself winding around Martis Lake. You’ll then cross a small stream and make a sharp left up the hill. You’ll see the entrance to “Waddle Ranch”. I thought the sign was so cute.

Running Lake Ella Trail

.”You’ll then go up the very steep Matt’s Hill. This is where you find most of the elevation gain on the Lake Ella Trail. It’s a short run to Lake Ella. Lake Ella was fairly full when I saw it.

Running Lake Ella Trail

After getting to Lake Ella, I went back Ericka’s Trail. The terrain has many rocks, so I would advise getting a good shoe, either a trail shoe or hiking boot. Next, you’ll meet Matt’s Trail, and you just backtrack to where you started. There is a fair amount of overlap on the Lake Ella Trail, but it’s worth it, and the views are gorgeous.

Finally, you’ll see Martis Dam and head back the same way you came. Unfortunately, I found myself facing a bit of headwind on the way back.

Running Lake Ella Trail

Lake Ella Trail Conclusion:

You can definitely hike, run, or walk the Lake Ella Trail in Truckee, CA. With over 700 feet of elevation, it’s not the easiest trail out there, but it’s beautiful. If you are looking for a trail, the Lake Ella Trail is beautiful. I would advise you to bring a good pair of trail shoes or hiking boots. Especially on the Ericka’s Trail portion, it was not a trail I felt overly comfortable in road shoes.

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Questions for you:

Have you ever been to the Lake Ella Trail in Truckee? 

What is your favorite trail?