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Rubicon 4x4 Trail, California

Perhaps the best known 4x4 trail in the world

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Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 20 miles
Duration: Multiple days
Family Friendly

Overview:  Perhaps the best known and most popular 4x4 trail in the world. A rare combination of difficulty, beauty, length and pure... more »

Tips:  This trail receives extremely heavy use and is under constant scrutiny by environmental groups. Make sure you stay on designated... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Start at End of Ice House Road

Bear left at end of Ice House Road and drop down to Loon Lake Staging Area.

2. Staging Area

Prepare to enter trail here. Good place to air down and tie down everything.

3. The Gate Keeper

If you can't get through here, you'd better turn around. It only gets worse.

4. Trail Marker on Tree

Note trail marker. There aren't many, but they help.

5. Wentworth Springs Road

Merge onto Wentworth Springs Road which joins on left. Trail is more defined now, but it has some tough spots.

6. Entrance to Little Sluice

The Little Sluice Box is an extreme obstacle that changes over time as boulders move around. Only the most aggressive vehicles should attempt it. Stay left to bypass this obstacle.

7. Exit Point of True Big Sluice

Stay left here at exit point of True Big Sluice. Sorry, we missed the entry point. This obstacle is tougher than the Little Sluice, as the name implies.

8. Camp Spot on right

On the right below the dam for Buck Island Lake is a great camp spot. This spot is often occupied.

9. Enter the Big Sluice

A sharp switchback to the left marks the beginning of the Big Sluice, not to be confused with the True Big Sluice mentioned earlier. You cannot bypass this section of very large and tight boulders.

10. Rubicon Bridge

After a nasty mud hole, you cross Rubicon Bridge and enter Rubicon Springs, a popular fee camping area.

11. Rubicon Springs

Stay left here and pass through Rubicon Springs, a fee camping area. Straight here is insane. You'll circle around Rubicon Springs and go by a helicopter pad. Rubicon Springs is a major control center for Jeep Jamborees that are held here anually. Don't drive the Rubicon Trail during a Jeep Jamboree.

12. Close to River

Stay on northeast side of river unless you want to camp on other side. River is usually shallow enough to cross.

13. Cadillac Hill

Begin steep, rocky, narrow climb up Cadillac Hill.

14. Ellis Peak Trail on Left

Stay right here where Blackwood Canyon/Ellis Peak Trail joins on left.

15. Rubicon Staging Area

Large staging area for vehicles entering Rubicon Trail from Lake Tahoe side. Most people drive the trail in the direction described here even though it's a long highway drive to start at Loon Lake. The shortest highway drive would be to start in Lake Tahoe and drive the Rubicon in both directions.

16. Highway 89

Intersect with Highway 89, West Lake Boulevard, which winds around western shore of Lake Tahoe. Bear left for Tahoe City, Truckee and Interstate 80.