The Rubicon Trail Review

rubicon trail

The Rubicon 4×4 Trail System

Quick Info —  Trail MapGPX/KML FilesTrail ReviewObstaclesPoints of Interest

The Rubicon Trail 4×4 Quick Info:

Difficulty (1-10): 8-9 (33s, 1 locker, no Dana 35s, bare minimum. If you want to really enjoy the trail, 35s and 1 locker)
Distance: 16.4 Miles (26.3 Miles with the Wentworth Springs entrance)
Apprx. Travel Time: 8-12 hours (+1 to 4 hours with Wentworth Springs Entrance)
Type of Trail:
Any Way You Want, Rock Crawling, Multi Day
Directions to TrailHead: Loon Lake Entrance    —    Wentworth Springs Entrance    —    Tahoma Staging Area
Governing Authority: Tahoe National Forest    —    El Dorado National Forest
Sponsoring Club: Sacramento Jeepers  —  Lake Tahoe Hi-Los  —  Madhatters 4×4 Club  — Rubicon Trail Foundation
Typical Operating Season: SummerOpen all year except during special events. Check the Rubicon Calendar.
Last Fuel Stop: Loon Lake Entrance: Chevron Fresh Pond    From Georgetown: Georgetown Gas & Co
Last Starbucks Stop for JK Owners: Loon Lake Entrance: It’s the last one!   Auburn: It’s the last one from this side!
Ham Radio Repeaters: Inside the trail:
444.9875+ pl 107.2   Outside the trail: 146.805-  pl 123.0
Fire Permits: Help Prevent Wild Fires!
Last Updated:


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The Rubicon Trail GPX and KML/KMZ Files

We personally prefer Gaia GPS for all of our trail mapping needs. Get a membership (20% off for My Off Road Radio readers if you follow this link!), and then you can either upload one of the files below into your Gaia account, or click on this link here and save our public Gaia GPS Folder to your own folders. Then go hit the trails!

The Rubicon Trail System GPS File
The Rubicon Trail System KMZ File


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The Rubicon Trail 4×4 Review



rubicon trail


There is not much that can be said about the world renowned Rubicon Trail that hasn’t already been said! The history is long and rich. The entertainment is never ending. The off roading is world class. And the camping is breathtaking. There is a reason why  people travel from all over the world, just to experience The Rubicon. Lucky for us, it is just a 2 hour drive, in the rock crawler, from the office!

The Rubicon Trail Vehicle Requirements

We highly recommend a minimum of 33 inch tires, and at least 1 locker for this trail. And even with that, be prepared to hit a lot of rocks and bang up your undercarriage, bumpers, and rocker panels. Sure, you can get through the trail with 33s and a limited slip differential, but you will be pushing the limits of your rig, and asking for a difficult and frustrating few days. To really enjoy the trail, stay relaxed, and take in the breathtaking views, we recommend 35 inch tires, 1 locker, full rock protection, and no dana 35 axles.

Time On The Rubicon Trail and Route to Take

Yes, you can absolutely run the entire Rubicon Trail in one day. It takes, on average, 8-10 hours. But if this will be one of your first 15 times on the trail, then do it in a minimum of 2 days. There is literally so much to see and do, that you can drive the trail 30 times, and do something different every single time. So relax, take in the experience, and enjoy it!

There are several, several ways to drive The Rubicon. The most popular way is to go in through the Loon Lake entrance, and go out Cadillac Hill and the Tahoma Staging Area. Some people prefer to just go in to Buck Island Lake, camp there, and come back out through Loon Lake (but then you miss the hard parts of the trail!). Some people come in through the Tahoma Staging Area and go out through the Loon Lake Entrance. Some people go in the Wentworth Springs Entrance, and out Loon Lake. In Wentworth Springs, out Tahoma. In Tahoma, out Wentworth Springs. In loon, out Wentworth Springs after a trip to Buck Island. The possibilities are boundless. The nice thing is that we have included the electronic tracks for you above. So no matter what you do, you will know where to go!

If you decide to travel on the Wentworth Springs portion of the trail, it can be quite difficult. Following the highlighted route will take you on the bypass of a difficult boulder section (you will be able to see it coming up to it). If you plan on doing this section, make sure you have 35s and a locker. It can be rough going.

If you are interested in a step-by-step direction of the trail, wikipedia has a great write up. We think it is best to experience the trail and go with the flow rather than worrying about every little step. But hey, if you want it, it’s there!

The Rubicon Trail Activities

What isn’t there to do on The Rubicon? You can wheel, hike, mountain bike, ride quads and dirtbikes, take side by sides. You can go swimming, do some bouldering, go fishing, geocaching, camp, or just lounge around in a hammock by a lake.

We recommend going during the summer, as certain sections of the trail become extremely treacherous and dangerous with a little bit of ice on the ground. Snowshoeing during the winter is a great activity through here though!

If you are camping prior to hitting the trail, there are 3 awesome campsites: Loon Lake Campground from the Loon Lake Entrance side, and Airport Flat and Wentworth Springs Campground from the Wentworth Springs Entrance side.


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The Rubicon Trail 4×4 Obstacles


This used to be a much more difficult obstacle than it is. But still, if you are having any issues at all through here, you should think about turning around.


The Bowl

Walker Hill

This is a great, fun obstacle that has a couple of decently steep climbs. It is split into 2 sections; upper and lower. At the bottom of Lower Walker Hill, is a nice camping area with a bathroom. It can fit 3-4 rigs comfortably. At the top of Upper Walker Hill is the Cell Phone Tree! If you would like to submit pictures of you and your rig on Walker, please email them to



Since Little Sluice and Gatekeeper got blown up, you will almost always find a crowd here eager to cheer on those willing to attempt Soupbowl. There is a bypass for Soupbowl to the passenger side of the rock wall as you are heading east on the trail.


Little Sluice


rubicon trail


After being blasted around the same time as Gatekeeper, Little Sluice is roughly about the same difficulty as the current Gatekeeper. You should be able to do Little Sluice with the recommended vehicle minimums.


Indian Trail


rubicon trail


If you want to check out more of the amazing views that The Rubicon has to offer, skip Little Sluice and go to the left for the Indian Trail bypass. It has a few off camber sections and steep granite ledges, but will be quicker than Little Sluice, and offer a better view across the valley.


Big Sluice


rubicon trail


This is a nice, long obstacle that we like to split into 2 sections; the squeeze rock, and the boulder section.

Cadillac Hill

Cadillac Hill is a long, steep obstacle, and the last one you will encounter. It has 3 distinct “sections”; the bottom, V notch, and the waterfall. After you are past the waterfall, it is just a slow, steady uphill ride until you come out at Observation Point. Take your time and suck in the fresh air, get some pictures, and, if you’re a JK owner, finish your starbucks already.


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The Rubicon Trail Points of Interest

The Cell Phone Tree


rubicon trail


This tree is located at the top of Walker Hill and is the only place on the trail where you can get reception! Make sure you are within 4 feet.

Rubicon Springs



One of the best camping places on the trail. It is 15$ per rig, per night. Bring Cash. You can either camp at Dirty Dozen (across the river below the slabs), on the granite slabs (pictured), or at the springs themselves. The nice thing about camping here, is it eliminates certain crowds who would rather not pay to camp. Thus, it tends to be a little quieter at night if you enjoy your beauty sleep. Rubicon Springs can handle upwards of 500 rigs, which it does during the annual Jeeper’s Jamboree.


Wentworth Springs Campground

This campground is setup to handle decent sized groups. It is on the Wentworth Springs Entrance side of the trail. Campsites are first come, first serve, no payment required. There is no running water, and toilets are vault style. There is no trash pickup, so please, pack it in, pack it out. You can find more information at the El Dorado National Forest website.


Loon Lake Campground

Loon Lake Campground is situated on the south west end of Loon Lake. There are 65 camp sites in total (49 of which are standard non electric tent sites). Sites are reserved via the Loon Lake Campground website, in person at the Loon Lake Chalet, or by calling 1-877-444-6777 anywhere from 4 days to 6 months in advance of your desired date. Each campsite comes with a picnic table, grill, fire ring, and bear locker. Firewood can be purchased on site from the Chalet. To find more information, you can also visit the El Dorado National Forest website.


Buck Island Lake


rubicon trail


Buck Island Lake is a great place to camp, swim, watch the sunset, and generally spend 1-2 days of leisure. The big thing to remember about this spot is that you must park your vehicles within 25′ of the trail. You are not allowed to park next to your camp spot if you are far off of the trail. Also, fire restrictions are enforced here. Make sure to have your California fire permit if you are outside of fire restrictions, or operating a gas stove or lantern during fire restrictions.


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Join the Off Road Ham Radio Community!


Also, if you don’t have your Ham Radio Technician License, head over to our Online Ham Radio Class and study up! Remember, 15% of your registration goes back into keeping our trails open!

And, of course, don’t forget to check out our MORRFlate 4 Tire Off Road Inflation Deflation Kit!


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