Rubicon Trail     
El Dorado National Forest  (View this site)
Difficulty Rating:  
* Trail Length:  
** Elevation Range:  
Operating Season:  
Extreme
17.2 Miles - point to point
6024' - 7156'
Closed for the winter

The Rubicon Trail is with out a doubt the most famous jeep trail in North America. Four wheel drive manufactures often test out the abilities of their vehicles here while off road enthusiast come from all over the world to test their nerve. Although the Rubicon will consistently punish your vehicle from start to finish you are continually rewarded with its scenic beauty.

The first obstacle you will encounter on the trail is known as the Gatekeeper. If you have unexpected trouble conquering this obstacle do everyone in your group the favor of turning back now, it only gets worse. Although the Rubicon Trail can be navigated in one full day, two or three days is recommended. The Rubicon Trail is best traveled from mid-summer to mid-fall. This is to avoid the winter snow pack and wet spring weather, not to mention the cold nights. The trail consist of mostly lite dry soil and granite, although portions of the trial may be flooded or snow covered depending on the time of year and current conditions.

The trail allows for access to the Rubicon River, Spider Lake, Loon Lake and other water features. Remember to abide by the Tread Lightly Philosophy, allrules of the Rubicon Trail and surrounding wilderness areas.

Given the nature of the trail please remember plan safety. Groups of three or more vehicles is preferred as well as the given suggested equipment.

While some extremely difficult sections can be bypassed several technical sections cannot. Use caution, good judgement and a spotter when necessary.

Loon Lake Trialhead - As you approach the dam toward the west side of Loon Lake the paved road ends. Continue across the dam and down to the left, this is the staging area. There are no bathroom facilities at the staging area, although there are facilities within the campground areas and boat ramp. Permits are required for multiple days while day use remains free.

Gatekeeper - The first major obstacle that you will face is properly named Gatekeeper. This obstacle consists of a left turn through a squeeze of two large rocks. If you have a notable amount of trouble here this would be your sign to turn back now, it only gets worse!

Granite Bowl - While overlooking the Granite Bowl bear left to descend into the bowl. Use caution and follow existing tire tracks when ever possible. Look to the south for great views of Loon Lake.

Little Sluce Box - This is an area of extreme rock crawling and damage is almost unavoidable for even the most modified trial rig. The bypass is strongly recommended.

True Big Sluce - This is another area of great rock crawling as you begin your decent toward Buck Island Lake. Follow trail markers and watch out for steep ledges.

Buck Island Lake - Buck Island Lake is a very popular campsite, don't forget to get your fire permit. The trail follows the north shore where you will be confronted with several large ledges after crossing the dam.

Big Sluce - Beginning at a sharp left switchback Big Sluice does not offer a bypass. This sections large rocks will test you and your vehicles capabilities. Following Big Sluice is a water crossing that can get very deep, use caution here and check the depth.

Rubicon Bridge - The Rubicon Bridge crosses the Rubicon River and is a great photo opportunity.

Rubicon Springs - Rubicon Springs is another great place to camp along the Rubicon River. This is the camping site for the Jeep Jamboree events.

Cadillac Hill - Cadillac Hill is the last difficult obstacle of the trail. This is a very steep and narrow climb. As always use caution.

Trail Maps      

GPS Waypoints   (GPX)
El Dorado National Forest   (US Forest Service)
Homewood   (USGS Topo)
Wentworth Springs   (USGS Topo)

Trail Links      

Rubicon OHV Trail - Forest Service  (View this site)

Books      

Charles Wells: Guide to Northern California Backroads &...
Charles Wells & Matt Peterson: Guide To California Backroads & 4-Wheel-...

Directions      

From Interstate 50 (Sacramento - 94 Miles)
- Head East on Highway 50 to Ice House Road (63 Miles)
- Bear right onto 13N18 / Ice House Road (23.4 Miles)
- The Loon Lake stage area is just beyond the second dam (7.6 Miles)

Waypoint Coordinates      

  Loon Lake Trialhead39° 00' 15.1" N- 120° 18' 45.2" W
  Gatekeeper39° 00' 19.4" N- 120° 18' 29.4" W
  Granite Bowl39° 00' 35.1" N- 120° 18' 30.2" W
  Little Sluce Box39° 01' 13.7" N- 120° 16' 30.1" W
  True Big Sluce39° 00' 36.0" N- 120° 15' 55.2" W
  Buck Island Lake39° 00' 19.2" N- 120° 15' 18.1" W
  Big Sluce39° 00' 14.5" N- 120° 14' 39.5" W
  Rubicon Bridge39° 00' 45.2" N- 120° 14' 41.8" W
  Rubicon Springs39° 01' 04.4" N- 120° 14' 47.1" W
  Cadillac Hill39° 01' 50.4" N- 120° 15' 09.6" W