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    Ely Mountain Hike

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    7.2 km
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    213 m
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    Directions to Trailhead

    The Ely Mountain Hike is a stunning excursion that boasts wonderful vistas of the High Sierra from the summit of the granite peak. Indulge yourself in the lush wilderness adorned with granite outcrops and past a shimmering lake as you hike up to the panoramic overlook.

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    Route Description for Ely Mountain Hike

    The Ely Mountain Trail is an awesome adventure in the Sierra National Forest that offers incredible scenery and a good workout. This great route travels through the lush wilderness abundant with diverse flora and fauna. Much of the path is exposed, which warrants wonderful views and extreme conditions, so prepare accordingly. Check the forecast and dress in layers as the exposed summit will likely be chilly. Additionally, we encourage you to wear a comfy, sturdy pair of footwear as the undulating path is laden with numerous stream crossings and rocky outcrops! Lastly, the parking lot is limited, so arrive early to secure a spot and beat the crowds that flock to Balsam Forebay.

    If you seek a relaxing yet heart-pumping adventure, then the Ely Mountain Hike is ideal. This incredible footpath wanders through mixed forests of evergreens, red firs, and wildflowers to Balsam Forebay and onto Ely Mountain. With manageable elevation gain and easy to navigate, this route can be enjoyed by families and novice hikers alike. Explore the Sierra NF and revel in the beauty and grandeur of the High Sierra along this route. After summiting the peak, cool off in the Balsam Forebay on your way back to the trailhead! We love this scenic adventure, and you will, too—so what are you waiting for? Let’s go!

    From the Balsam Forebay Parking lot, the Ely Mountain Hike heads west, through a gate and onto the dirt road. The dirt path will guide you into the forestlands and over some streams before soon delivering you to Balsam Forebay. Here you will notice several visitors enjoying the shimmering waters of the artificial lake. Enjoy the scene of the shimmering waters bounding by towering pines, then continue trekking west. Revel in the beauty of the forestlands decorated with wildflowers, and soon the path will dip into a valley. Cross over the snowmelt stream, and at the next intersection, keep left. Soon you will summit Ely Mountain.

    Ely Mountain is a granite plateau sparingly decorated with pines. From here, you will be granted amazing views of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada Summits that line the horizon. Revel in the grandeur of the imposing mountains, the lush forestlands, and Shaver Lake below. Admire the panoramic views from atop the peak, and when you are ready, retrace your footing along the path past Balsam Forebay and back to the parking lot. If time permits and the weather is ideal, we encourage you to spend the afternoon sunning along the shores. If not, head back to your car, marking the end of your adventure. ​

    Trail Highlights

    Balsam Forebay

    Balsam Forebay is a charming, artificial lake in the Sierra National Forest. The lake was formed by the Balsam Meadow Dam in 1986. Now, the Balsam Forebay is a popular hiking, swimming, and picnicking local for adventures in Fresno County.

    Insider Hints for Ely Mountain Hike

    • Pack lunch and have a picnic at Balsam Forebay
    • When hiking in the summer, wear sun protection
    • Much of the terrain is rocky, so wear ankle-bracing footwear
    • Be mindful of wildlife as you trek
    • Charge your camera, the scenes from atop Ely Mountain are epic!

    Getting to the Ely Mountain Hike Trailhead

    The Ely Mountain Hike departs from the Balsam Forebay Trailhead and Parking Lot off Huntington Lake Road.

    Route Information

    • Backcountry Campground


    • When to do


    • Pets allowed

      Yes - On Leash

    • Family friendly


    • Route Signage


    • Crowd Levels


    • Route Type

      Out and back

    Ely Mountain Hike Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

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    Ely Mountain Hike Reviews

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