Rubicon Trip Report
The Rubicon trail is everything you have ever read about, and more. There is something for everybody, smooth granite, dirt trails, potential water crossings, beautiful views and rocks, lots and lots of rocks. 2 Jeeps, a 2010 Wrangler with Turtleback Trailer (Yes I pulled my Turtleback all the way up the trail) and a 98 Grand Cherokee departed Phoenix AZ on Friday morning and decided to take the more scenic route of I-10 to CA 395 toward Lake Tahoe. We took 2 days with a stop up an old dirt road for camping Friday night outside Bishop CA.
We opted to run the trail from Georgetown to Lake Tahoe. This is considered the more “Traditional” direction. It can be run in the opposite direction but you will be against “Traffic” on some of the bigger hills (Cadillac, Big Sluice) and they are narrow so keep an eye down trail and plan ahead for spots to let people pass. In Georgetown we picked up ice and fuel and headed off with an overnight stop and adult beverage at Uncle Tom’s Cabin. This is a must see location and a great place to camp before you hit the trail first thing in the morning. They allow camping no charge on their property and even have places for tow rigs if you contact them ahead of time. Sunday morning we headed out to the trail head. We decided to intersect with the “Official” Rubicon Trail via the Wentworth Road. This does add about 2-3 miles to the trail length but we were in no hurry. On a side note make sure you download some good trail/road maps (I used an app on my iPhone called Gaia GPS and downloaded a few different tracks and topo maps). The roads and trails, including the Rubicon Trial can be very poorly marked, there are yellow reflectors on parts of the trails but they are spaced at times and can be hard to see. One of our days we had a light rain shower and the black tire tracks we were following disappeared.
Just short of Buck Island Lake we had our only major issue on the trail. The Grand Cherokee had a flexible brake line come loose, catch on the lugs of the tire and rip off the hard line. We were able to cap the line using some epoxy but with only ½ the front brakes working the jeep was not safe to drive. Early Monday morning the other jeep headed back up the trail and was able to find a replacement in Auburn and be back at our impromptu camp by 3PM. By 4 PM we had the line installed and the system bled and we were ready to roll.
Tuesday morning we were back on the trail and made it to Rubicon Springs, found a wonderful camp spot next to the creek and set up camp. We spent Wednesday doing some exploring and resting. Thursday AM we made the trek up Cadillac Hill and out to the real world.
General Observations / Opinions
I have read on more than one location that this trail can be run on 33’s Open/Open. I am going to strongly disagree with this. The Jamborees do a “Good” job of stacking the obstacles and putting spotters on all the major hard spots, but even then my opinion is you need at a minimum 35’s and 1 locker to do it (Not to mention Armor, winch and recovery gear)
Water is plentiful but does need to be filtered for drinking
The Friends of the Rubicon, www.rubicontrail.org, have done an outstanding job of putting outhouses all along the trail and all over Rubicon Springs. I still carried Wag Bags but never had to use them.
You WILL damage/dent something on this trail at some point. Make sure your rig is in good shape, you have tools and spare parts available.
If you have any questions please I would be glad to pass on any further opinions or information I have.