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Rubicon Trail

Saturday, April 13, 2024

Other Names

Rubicon OHV Trail, Mckinney Rubicon Trail, Rubicon 4WD Trail, Mckinney Lake, Lily Lake, Miller Lake, Buck Lake, Miller Meadows, Fern Lake, Rubicon River, Long Lake, Fawn Lake, Buck Island Lake, Big Sluice, Spider Lake, Wentworth Springs Road, Little Sluice, Ellis Creek, Rubicon Springs, Eldorado National Forest, Tahoe National Forest, Lake Tahoe, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, Hunters Trail

Last Known StatusClosed For Season

This popular 4x4 trail is about 22 miles long and has two trailheads, one on the west side of Lake Tahoe and the other near Loon Lake. The trail offers scenic views of a mixed pine tree forest, grassy meadows, alpine lakes, rivers and streams.

Most people tackle the Rubicon from Loon Lake and head east, but the trail can be attempted in either direction. The terrain is extremely rugged and consists of huge granite boulders, loose chunk rock, several steep hill climbs and massive rock slabs to crawl over. There are some bypasses for the rough areas but no turnaround points, so if you are in a 4x4 you have to commit to the end.

Dispersed camping is permitted but there are a couple campgrounds that can accomodate those with larger trailers. Airport Flat Campground is located off Wentworth Springs Road and Icehouse Road intersection and offers 16 sites. Northshore Campground is located further north near Loon Lake which has 15 sites.

Wentworth Springs Campground is another option but only has 8 tent sites and limited parking. There are no fees charged for any of the above campgrounds but there are no services so come prepared. The campgrounds usually open for the season around Memorial Day Weekend through mid October, but exact dates vary.

This trail is open to all OHVs but Jeeps, rock crawlers or anything with four wheels will have a better time. Expect some damage and bring extra parts. Don't have a rig? Then check out one of the guided tours.

Trail Map... Nearby ATV Trails...


Permit RequiredYesCA OHMVR stickers required
Dates OpenJune 1 - November 15CA OHMVR red sticker vehicles permitted year round
Other ATV Stickers AcceptedYesResidents of any state not listed must purchase a Nonresident OHV Use Permit. (AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, IA, ID, IN, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MT, ND, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, TX, UT, VT, WA, WI, WY)
Spark ArrestorYesA spark arresting exhaust silencer or end cap is required for all vehicles.
Noise LimitYes (96 dB)CA OHMVR noise limits apply (1985/older limit 101 dB, 1986/newer limit 96 dB)
Whip FlagsNot Required
Maximum Vehicle WidthNo Restriction
Allow Dirt Bikes, Trail Bikes and Motorcycles Motorcycles & Dirt BikesPermittedNot Recommended
CA OHMVR stickers required
very rocky
Allow All Terrain Vehicles / Quads / Four Wheelers ATVsPermittedNot Recommended
CA OHMVR stickers required
Allow Utility Terrain Vehicles, Side by Sides (SXS), RZR UTV & SXSPermittedCA OHMVR stickers required
Allow 4x4 Jeeps, SUVs and 4 x 4 Trucks with License Plates SUVs & Jeeps (registered)Permitted
Dune Buggy & Sand Rail
4x4 (unregistered)
PermittedCA OHMVR stickers required
2 Stroke EnginesNo RestrictionCA OHMVR restrictions apply
MX Helmet RequiredYeshelmets required by state law
Camping / Overnight RV Parking CampingSome Areas(camp in developed sites only)
campfire permit required, contact the ranger station for info
Campfire Restrictions CampfiresSome Areas(permitted in developed campsites only)
Night RidingUnknown
Trail BlazingProhibitedstay on trail
Rule EnforcementYesDedicated Rangers/Officers
Jeep/SUV Patrol
trail is regularly patrolled by Eldorado County Sheriffs


AreaMotorized Trails
LandNational Forest, County Land




Our RatingRatingGood
Recommended Stay3-4 Days
even experienced drivers need a few days to complete the trail
Comments(Scroll Down For Rider Reviews & Comments)


Nearest CitySouth Lake Tahoe, CA
Go Back To California List
Trail MapGo To Trail Map
From: South Lake Tahoe, CA
1) Take SR-89 North about 20 miles
2) Turn left (west) onto McKinney Rubicon Springs Road, continue .2 miles
3) Veer right onto Bellevue Ave., continue .1 miles
4) Turn right onto McKinney Road, continue .2 miles
5) Turn left onto Rubicon Trail, follow road toward staging area.

For Loon Lake Staging Area:
1) Take 89 South to US 50 W
2) Take US-50 West about 30 miles
3) Turn right (north) onto Ice House Road, continue .7 miles
4) Turn right to stay on Ice House Road, continue about 30 miles toward Northshore Campground or Loon Lake Staging Area.

For Airport Flat Campground:
1) Take 89 South to US 50 W
2) Take US-50 West about 30 miles
3) Turn right (north) onto Ice House Road, continue .7 miles
4) Turn right to stay on Ice House Road, continue about 23 miles
5) Turn left (north-west) onto Wentworth Springs Road, continue about 2.5 miles
6) Campground entrance is on the right.


Contact InfoLake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
35 College Drive
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
(530) 543-2600
Contact InfoEldorado National Forest
100 Forni Road
Placerville, CA 95667
(530) 622-5061


Rubicon Trail Photo

Rubicon Trail

Photo Submitted 11/23/2015 (Thanks!)


Submit a Photo!


Approx Size5,120 acres (8 sq mi)
Miles Of Trail22
Climate TypeForest
Elevation6300 to 7100 ft.
Trail MaintenanceMarked, Not Rated, Lightly Maintained
Loose DirtThis trail has little loose dirt.Little
Hard PackThe trail has some hard pack terrain.Some
SandThis trail has no sandy areas.None
MudThe trail has little mud after it rains.Little
DustThe trail has little dust on typical days.Little
RocksThis trail has mostly rocks.Mostly
TreesThe trail has almost all trees.All
Steep HillsThis trail has many steep hills.Many
Water CrossingsThe trail has few water crossings.Few
Small JumpsThis trail has no small jumps.None
Large JumpsThis trail has no large jumps.None
BermsThe trail has no berms.None
Sand/Gravel PitsThis national forest has no sand or gravel pits.None
Single TrackThis national forest has no single track trails.None
RoadsThis national forest has no roads.None
ShadeThis national forest has many shaded areas.Many
HazardsThis trail has few hazards.Few(hazards assumed marked but use caution)
Easy Terrain NoviceThis trail has little beginner terrain.Little
Moderate Terrain AmateurThis trail has some intermediate level terrain.Some
Difficult Terrain ExpertThis trail has mostly expert terrain.Mostly


Gasoline Gasoline5-20 Miles (S)Icehouse Resort (530) 293-3321
Diesel Diesel5-20 Miles (S)Icehouse Resort (530) 293-3321
Potable Water Water1-5 Miles (S)Loon Lake Campground (530) 647-5415
RV Hookups RV Hookup1-5 Miles (S)Loon Lake Campground (530) 647-5415
RV Dump Station RV Disposal1-5 Miles (S)Loon Lake Campground (530) 647-5415
Primitive Camping CampgroundOn SiteAirport Flat Campground, Northshore Campground and Wentworth Springs Campground (530) 647-5415
Convenience Store Conv Store5-20 Miles (S)Icehouse Resort (530) 293-3321
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