Are you trying to decide between a hike to Ella Rock or Little Adam’s Peak in Ella, Sri Lanka? Both these hikes start just outside the touristic village of Ella and whilst they have similarities, their hiking routes are very much different from one another.
This guide details everything you need to know about both the Ella Rock hike as well as Little Adam’s Peak, including step-by-step directions for each one.
So, which is better, Ella Rock or Little Adam’s Peak, Ella?
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Overview: Ella Rock hike or Little Adam’s Peak, Ella
Little Adam’s Peak in Ella should not be confused with Adams Peak in Dalhousie. The latter is a sacred mountain that is home to the annual pilgrimage taking place between December and May. It’s a tougher hike than both Ella Rock and Little Adam’s Peak and will see you climbing throughout the night.
If you want to climb Adam’s Peak in Dalhousie, check out this post. If you’re looking for a more relaxed hike to Little Adam’s Peak, keep reading!
Here’s a summary of my experience from hiking both Ella Rock and Little Adam’s Peak:
- View from the top: From Little Adam’s Peak you have a beautiful view of Ella and the valleys below. Whilst the view from Ella Rock is equally as gorgeous, Little Adam’s Peak takes this one as there are far more viewpoints.
- Hiking trail: The Ella Rock hike is more rugged, untouched and quieter, whilst Little Adam’s Peak is well marked and an easy trail to follow with steps directing you to the top.
- Hiking time: Little Adam’s Peak is about an hour hike return and you should give yourself an additional hour to explore the various viewpoints at the top. Ella Rock is about 2 hours to get to the top and 2 hours to get back down again and you will only need 20 minutes at the top of Ella Rock.
- Difficulty: Ella Rock is slightly tougher than Little Adam’s Peak, because of the longer time it takes to get to the top and the final ascent is steeper.
- Overall: If you can only do one hike in Ella and must choose between Ella Rock or Little Adam’s Peak, I’d go for Little Adam’s Peak because of the views. However, I much preferred the hiking route to Ella Rock.
Below I’ve detailed every step of both hikes so you can decide for yourself which is better.
If you’re looking for other hikes in Sri Lanka, do not miss this one in Sigiriya.
Guide to the Ella Rock hike (including step by step directions)
Sitting at 1 041m, Ella Rock is a famous cliff and one of the 2 best hikes in Ella. The trail to the top of Ella Rock takes you through the countryside where you walk amongst tea plantations, forests and overgrown shrubs.
Once you reach the top of Ella Rock, you’ll be rewarded with picturesque views of the plains below, including Little Adam’s Peak in the distance.
When’s the best time to hike Ella Rock? Sunrise
I chose to do the Ella Rock hike for sunrise. Why? Because I was in Sri Lanka in October which is the shoulder period for monsoon season. During this time, the clouds start rolling in at lunchtime with afternoon thundershowers occurring regularly.
If you want to make it to the top of Ella Rock for sunrise, you should leave your hotel by 4am. If sunrise is too early for you, it’s best to start your Ella Rock hike before 7am to avoid the heat.
Remember that the route can also be confusing, so don’t leave too late or else you are at risk of getting lost in the dark on your way back down!
How long does it take to hike Ella Rock for sunrise?
Depending on your starting point (Ella vs Kithalella Train Station), the Ella Rock hike takes no more than 2 hours to reach the top. Add another 2 hours to get back down and you’re looking at 4 hours of hiking, with an extra 15 minutes at the top to enjoy the view.
Do you need a guide to hike Ella Rock, Sri Lanka?
No – If you follow the below step by step directions to Ella Rock, you won’t need a guide. However, if you’d prefer a local direct you, look at tipping between 2000-3000 LKR ($20).
How to get to Ella Rock, Sri Lanka: step by step directions
1) First, you need to get to Kithalella railway station.
There are 2 ways to get to Kithalella station
- You can either walk from Ella Train Station to Kithalella Station which takes 30 to 40 minutes. When you get to Ella Station, turn left, walk to the end of the platform and down onto the tracks. This is a working railway so be aware of oncoming trains but it’s completely normal to walk alongside the tracks.
- The second way to get to Kithalella Station is to go by scooter from Ella town. Go to this point, The Finalgate homestay, and turn left down the road. Keep going all the way down and you will reach Kithalella train station. Cars cannot access this route so you will need to go either by scooter or tuk-tuk. This route is quicker as it saves you 45 minutes of walking along the tracks from Ella Station to Kithalella Station.
2) Walk the tracks from Kithalella Train Station to Ella Rock
If you get dropped off at Kithalella Train Station, take a right turn along the tracks, away from Ella. Continue this way for 5-10 minutes.
People along the route may give you different directions to Ella Rock and locals will offer their guided services if you seem lost but don’t listen to anyone who’s trying to confuse you. It’s even been said that there are fake signs trying to trick tourists into getting help from guides.
3) Turn left at the big rock with lots of vegetation
After walking 5-10 minutes from Kithalella Station you will see a big rock to your left which is almost completely covered by grass and vegetation. It’s situated as the tracks bend and there is also a 15km/h sign nearby. Take a sharp left just after this rock and continue along the gravel path to Ella Rock.
4) Cross the footbridge
After following the path, you’ll cross a small footbridge. The path then splits in two. Take the left route to Ella Rock which goes up toward the tea plantations.
This route is best as it wraps around the hill as opposed to going straight up. Don’t worry if you take the path to the right as they both lead to Ella Rock, but the left is the easier route to follow.
5) Walk through tea plantations and long grass
Next, you’ll make your way through tea plantations and finally reach long grass. Keep going straight and do not wander off along the smaller paths linked to this one.
If you think you should turn, don’t! Just keep going straight and don’t veer off the path. You’ll keep walking this way for about 30 minutes.
6) Hike to Ella Rock
At the end of the long grass, the fields open and the path will veer right. You’ll pass an interim viewpoint before making your way through a beautiful forest.
This is the most strenuous part of the Ella Rock hike and leads to the peak.
Ella Rock view
Unlike Little Adam’s Peak, Ella Rock has only one viewpoint and this tends to be where everyone comes to enjoy the scenery. It can get crowded so try to get here as early as possible.
Guide to Little Adam’s Peak, Ella (or Mini Adam’s Peak)
Little Adam’s Peak in Ella gets its name from its famed big brother, Adam’s Peak, because of their similarity in shape. Sitting at 1 141m, Little Adam’s Peak is a hike well-suited for all fitness levels and can easily be included in your Ella itinerary.
After you’ve hiked Little Adam’s Peak, make your way to the Nine Arch Bridge (which is nearby) and catch a glimpse of the first train crossing the famous bridge.
How to get to Little Adam’s Peak, Ella
Little Adam’s Peak is situated about 2km outside of Ella in the hill country of Sri Lanka. It’s possible to walk to Little Adam’s Peak from Ella town, but I’d recommend that you either rent a scooter for the day or take a tuk-tuk to the entry point.
There are 2 places where you can start your hike to Little Adam’s Peak. Both have the same access point but the one starts amongst tea plantations, whilst the other doesn’t.
- The first is at 98 Acres Resort which is about 10 minutes scooter ride from Ella. You will need to enter the premises and take a left down a path. After a few minutes, you will see the entry gate to Little Adam’s Peak. You can park your scooter here and begin your hike. This is the route I took to get to Little Adam’s Peak.
- Alternatively, you can start at Ella Flower Garden Resort which is just down the road. Park your scooter at the entrance and begin the trail to Little Adam’s Peak from there. This route takes you through tea plantations and meets at the entry gate near 98 Acres Resort.
Little Adam’s Peak, Ella trail
The trail to Little Adam’s Peak starts off on a wide gravel road. After 5-10 minutes you will come across the stairs that lead to the top of Little Adam’s Peak.
It’s a well-maintained trail that’s easy to navigate when compared to Ella Rock which can be more confusing.
If you’re climbing Little Adam’s Peak for sunrise, make sure you keep an eye out for the directions that lead to the stairs and do not follow Google maps (Google Maps takes you through the bushes – yup, that’s the way I went!)
Little Adam’s Peak view
There are 3 mountain peaks along the Little Adam’s Peak trail. The middle is the most popular, but I highly recommend you keep going on to the third viewpoint. To get here, you need to walk down a steep ridge and then proceed up another one.
The extra effort will be well worth it for the views at the end.
When’s the best time to hike Little Adam’s Peak? Sunrise or Sunset
Because Little Adam’s Peak is an easy hike that doesn’t require much time, it’s best to do at either sunrise or sunset. Just remember that the weather in Sri Lanka can be unpredictable, and if you hike Little Adam’s Peak offseason, it’s best to go for a sunrise hike as I did.
Watching the sunrise from Little Adam’s Peak is truly breathtaking. There were very few people at the top at the time of my visit but as we were coming down, scores of tourists were making their way up Little Adam’s Peak.
Not everyone is keen on an early morning wake-up call which is perfect if you want to avoid the crowds – so take advantage of this.
How long does it take to hike Little Adam’s Peak for sunrise or sunset?
I climbed Little Adam’s Peak for sunrise, and it took around 45 minutes to reach the top from 98 Acres Resort (which included an extra 15 minutes as we got lost!) Allow 30 minutes to get back down.
Moving between the various viewpoints can take about an hour so give yourself just over 2 hours to explore Little Adam’s Peak.
The sun rises before 6am so if you want to make it to the top in time to watch the sunrise, ensure you leave Ella by 05:15.
Do you need a guide for Little Adam’s Peak, Ella?
No, a guide is not necessary to hike Little Adam’s Peak.
Tips for Ella Rock and Little Adam’s Peak, Ella
- Wear long socks and closed shoes. The route to the top of both Ella Rock and Little Adam’s Peak is uneven and rocky, and there are leeches everywhere!
- Bring snacks and lots of water
- Take some money as there are vendors selling fruit and juice along the way
- Don’t forget sunscreen and a hat
- If you’re hiking Ella Rock or Little Adam’s Peak for sunrise, bring a flashlight
- Both Ella Rock and Little Adam’s Peak are free to access
Ella Rock or Little Adam’s Peak final thoughts
Both Ella Rock and Little Adam’s Peak rival any hike in Sri Lanka. They’re relatively easy and offer spectacular views for minimal effort. I’d highly recommend that you hike both Ella Rock and Little Adam’s Peak if you have the time.
Where to go after Ella?
After spending a few days hiking through hill country, reward yourself to some down time on the beach. Hiriketiya Beach is my favorite place in Sri Lanka and should be your next stop after hiking Ella Rock and Little Adam’s Peak.