Crossing the Rubicon

Crossing the Rubicon

Last week I met up with some old work friends (and new friends) to tackle one of the most famous off-road trails in America, the Rubicon Trail. It's one of the few mountain crossings in the area that leads you to Lake Tahoe from the west side, but it's notoriously difficult, so much so that Jeep uses it as not only the name of their top flight model, but they stress test them on the actual trail to make sure it is capable of completing it.

It's about 22 miles from Loon Lake to the outskirts of Lake Tahoe, and the first half of it can take several days (the second half is mostly bumpy fire roads).

I had a GoPro with me and a drone and shot video sporadically through the week, and here are the results of a quick edit with some explanation in voiceover:

Several things stuck out to me after the trip:

  • I can't believe WWII veterans would run this trail in late 1940s jeeps, kind of starting the whole sport of off-roading for fun. I barely made it through in the latest and greatest 2023 technology.
  • Mosquitos aren't a big thing in the western US, it's one of the perks of going camping here and not getting eaten alive, but with the huge snowpack this year, there is standing water everywhere in the Sierras and mosquitos were almost as bad as Alaska.
  • The silt from Tahoe gets into everything. I couldn't believe how quickly things got dusty/dirty and how much dust is caked in my Jeep's interior after just a few days. It sticks to everything. Even my drone looks like it was in a fight with Pig Pen.
  • Pushing your 4x4 to its limits teaches you a lot of things. I now know I need to get slightly larger tires for more ground clearance, I could use a couple more inches of lift, and I seriously need to install armor underneath my Jeep to protect it on future rocks.
  • Most famous hard trails I've done before have a hard rock problem or face to drive up, then you get a quarter to half mile to get to the next problem. The Rubicon was relentless, just one hard climb after another after another. We only covered 4 miles in 8 hours on day one, then 3 miles in 12 hours on day two. It's really that hard!
  • I'm glad I did it, I haven't yet gone camping in my Jeep and figured out what the storage was like, and was fairly comfortable. It also re-set my expectations of what my Jeep is capable of, to a much higher level than before.

I wouldn't suggest everyone give it a try, but it was a very beautiful area with stunning views and fun but stressful (but fun) driving to do on a remote mountain trail over a high pass (that can possibly kill you and your vehicle).