When you talk about the Rubicon Trail with most people, they don’t have a clue what you are talking about. But when you talk to the avid offroader, you see the light in their eyes and the smile to follow. The Rubicon Trail is historic and is on every jeep owners “Bucket List”. It was also on my bucket list of trails I wanted to conquer. I had the opportunity to tag along with the 2nd Modern Jeeper Adventures stop of the year to the iconic Rubicon Trail near Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
I flew into Sacramento, CA., eager to meet with MetalCloak and tour their facility. When I arrived it was smokey from the fires but not too terrible. I spent the day meeting everyone and checking out all MetalCloak has going on, from builds to production. I was like a kid in a candy store, making mental lists of parts I need for my personal Jeep, Rockstar. From sales to CloakWorks builds, their headquarters is amazing!! Jason Lewis from YouTube AutoEdit was in the shop helping to install his Undercloak MetalCloak Integrated Armor System in preparation for the Rubicon Trail. He was coming along to experience some real off-roading with us and to show all his viewers on YouTube what the Rubicon was all about.
We spent the day organizing, planning, and getting all the details together for the Modern Jeeper Adventure to the Rubicon. There is a lot of prep that goes into these trips and I was happy to help and see all the inner workings of MetalCloak.
Up early and ready for this adventure… to say I was excited would be an understatement! Our first stop was at Thompsons Jeep, a dealership in Placerville, to get all the participants checked in and meet everyone. There were 30 to 35 rigs going, from participants to trail leaders.
As we got in line and started our convoy up to the next stop for gas before we headed to the loon lake trailhead it was a beautiful scenic drive through the El Dorado National Forest as we turned off on IceHouse Rd.
Loon lake is a beautiful picture perfect scene to set off the Rubicon Trail sign. Seeing that Rubicon Sign, that i’ve seen only in pictures, was the highlight of my year thus far.
The sculptured granite rock and rushing creek was something to see as all the rigs lined up to have our first drivers meeting. You could feel the excitement build as everyone aired down and did final checks before we headed out for our adventure. The Rubicon Trail is 22 miles long (give or take), from the trailhead at Loon Lake. Its about 8 miles to reach Rubicon Springs, entering in to the section called “the Gatekeeper”, which was twisting and turning with large boulders and silt. GateKeeper was challenging for most of our novice offroaders. Those rock sliders and under armor come in handy with these types of trails. I have been on many offroad trails but nothing as constant rock crawling over obstacles as the Rubicon Trail. You have to have your game face on at all times and really pay attention to every rock and lines you choose.
I believe I could do it in a stock jeep if your were an exceptional driver, but you will definitely need sliders and body armor…and lockers really do help as well.
The Granite bowl was stunning as we lined up and took a short break as everyone was coming off the gatekeeper to keep us all together before heading up to Walker Hill to the Soup Bowl.
As much as I wanted to try the Soup Bowl we were all keeping a good pace, to get to Rubicon Springs to be on time for dinner. After the soup bowl our novice group needed more attention on some pretty tough obstacles. To keep the line going as spotters got out of their rigs to get people up quickly as possible, I got to drive the CloakWorks JKUR up the hard lines to move the rigs ahead to meet up with the front group to Little Sluice. Our spotters and trail rigs from Outlaw Jeep Tours got out to help the line up Little Sluice and on passed Spider Lake to Thousand (million) Dollar Hill Bypass. The trail splits again about a half mile past this point, the lower trail continuing on the granite slabs (aka Indian Trail) or the upper trail through the Old Sluice. The granite slabs are off camber but are an easier and much quicker route to take.
We stopped at Buck Island Lake Dam and soaked our toes, washed the silt off and took the moment in for pictures. Before passing Buck Island Lake you come across Silby Rock. Silby Rock can be considered difficult if the wrong line has been taken. That section did give us one heck of a time! After a few got up and moved on to spot more difficult obstacles, I drove up and made it look easy as Jason filmed me, then it was his turn. It was pretty challenging but we all fell in line helping each other along the way as we made our way to Big Sluice. As we ascended up some pretty tight off camber obstacles, the slow and steadiness paid off.
This downhill section contains a switchback with a rock drop-off and an off camber rocky section, leading to the Rubicon River Bridge, which was first built of logs in about 1860, and then into the private property of the Rubicon Springs. Going through Squeeze rock was super tight right before we got into the Jeepers Jamboree main camp as we were a little late for dinner!
We trucked into our camp spots at Rubicon Springs through some pretty gnarly obstacles… are we there yet? Rubicon Springs is picture perfect with stunning campsites , waterfalls, clear water and lets not forget the rope swing!! It’s hard to believe that around 1886, a 2.5 story, 16 room hotel was built here! The Jeepers Jamboree crew did an amazing job with their hospitality and every meal. A live band during dinner, a movie after dinner where Metalcloak presented the new movie Jumanji, and to top the night off, dancing music via a live DJ!
As we closed down camp on the 3rd day we woke up to ash falling and very smokey conditions from nearby fires. We loaded up and waited for the “Rock Rollers” from Jeepers Jamboree crew to help us up Cadillac Hill so we could get through smoothly. We had 11 miles left of the journey into Lake Tahoe.
Cadillac Hill is a series of switchbacks up to Observation Point, starting with a rutted out section with many exposed tree roots. After turning a hairpin the trail becomes very off camber and contains a series of boulders to maneuver around or over and looking down a big slope. Yikes!! After that is a steep stair step obstacle to climb. At the top of the hill is Observation Point, a good place to see where you have just driven and to take a short break before the long dirt road to Lake Tahoe. The Observation Point was so smokey you really couldn’t see everything so we all chatted and ate our sack lunch.
There are a few small sections of rocks after this but nothing that poses a significant obstacle. We all made it out alive and unscaved??? I guess if you didn’t get a few bumps and rock rash you didn’t have a good time on the Rubicon Trail.
At the staging area just west of Lake Tahoe we all aired up, said our goodbyes, and headed out.
I have never been to this area so I wanted to go out by Lake Tahoe, which was super busy and crammed packed at every look out point. I will have to save that trip for later. The scenic drive back through the El Dorado National Forest was captivating! Lake Tahoe was buzzing with boats and skiing, and was the most beautiful blue green lake I have ever seen. While this Modern Jeeper Adventure has come to an end, I can’t wait for the next one!
When will you be joining us?