First time Rubicon trip - tips and ideas please?

LJTim

Active Member
Location
Herriman, UT
I have read several of the trip reports on this Forum and other pages, and the information has been super helpful as I make plans for our group. I have several general questions, but if anyone has any ideas that I haven't thought to ask about, please feel free to share. If you think any of my game plan should be adjusted, also feel free to share.

Our plan is to go some time between June 24 - August 24 2019. We have not picked a specific date, but we do plan to avoid the weeks of Jeepers Jamboree, Jeep Jamboree and Jeep Jamboree USA (could those 3 names be any more ridiculous). We will have from 5-8 rigs TJ's, LJ, JKU's all fully locked with 35-37s. Some trailering, some driving their jeeps the whole way. Our plan is to run it the traditional direction, starting from Georgetown, finishing at Observation Point. Hoping to make the most of the experience, as this is all of our first time. Thinking 3 trail days, and 2 nights camping is about average. We are also hoping to spend a day or so at Lake Tahoe, possibly kayak out to Fannette Island, and check out some of the nearby falls. Not sure if it makes sense to do that before the trail or after. I'm thinking a 4-6 day trip total.

Now for the questions.

1. Should there be any reason we should choose one week in that range more than another (weather, popularity, etc.)?
2. Are there any pros/cons to starting from Loon Lake vs Airport Flat?
3. I figured camping at Buck Island Lake the first night, and Rubicon Springs the second night would be ideal, but is there enough to do between those 2 destinations to spend a day between the 2 nights?
4. Are reservations required at Buck Island?
5. What amenities are there at RS? Are there any other facilities (outhouses) along the trail?
6. What efforts should be taken against bears? I am assuming it would be bad to keep food in the jeep overnight?
7. Lake Tahoe fun; before or after the trail?
8. Other fun things to do at Tahoe?
9. Suggested places to park our trucks/trailers?
10. Campfires; I have seen some posts saying campfires are not allowed, but others that have shown photos with fires. This probably varies from year to year?
11. Are there any nearby trails we should include in the trip? I have heard Fordyce is cooler than the Rubicon, but I worry about one of our jeeps in particular that is a brand new JL Rubicon - body damage and flooding.
 

TurboMinivan

Still plays with cars
Location
Lehi, UT
I only have time to quickly answer a couple questions.

2. Are there any pros/cons to starting from Loon Lake vs Airport Flat?
If you enter at Loon Lake, you miss about 1/3 of the trail. Sure, it starts out pretty tame at Airport Flat... but there was some definite fun that happens before the Loon Lake route joins the trail.

3. I figured camping at Buck Island Lake the first night, and Rubicon Springs the second night would be ideal, but is there enough to do between those 2 destinations to spend a day between the 2 nights?
There was for us, but we were also dragging a wounded XJ with no steering ability so we were going rather slow by then.

Are there any other facilities (outhouses) along the trail?
Very, very few. Be sure to bring some sort of trail potty with you.

9. Suggested places to park our trucks/trailers?
We rented space at a large campground in South Tahoe.
 

mbryson

.......a few dollars more
Supporting Member
http://marbryson.com/2013-Rubicon_1.html -- Same trip as Dempsey with aforementioned XJ :D We had some cool trail fixes that trip. Some not so cool.

Coming out of Airport Flats...
is worth it just for this hill in my opinion. I think that's even Dempsey pictured?

Fun little climb

More Dempsey


and my rig

Little Sluice was TOTALLY paved last time I went through in the JKU

That's where we had a little XJ mishap


Trail doesn't suck


Decent perspective of Cadillac Hill. It's steeper than pictured but this will give you the idea.




http://marbryson.com/2016-Rubicon.html --- Trip in my 2012 JKU on 35" tires, 4.88 gears and ARB lockers.

Within a few hundred yards of the above pictures, here's my JKU


Little Sluice in 2016


Trail isn't hard but it's something that needs a little respect


Big Sluice?


I'd LOVE to go again. It's about $600-800 in fuel if I remember correctly? I'd like to find a way to haul two rigs at the same time if I go again. Depending on my summer plans (building a house? -- if that, there's no way I'd dare spend the $), I'd LOVE to go again but want to do Fordyce and/or Duzy/Ershim or similar next time I go out. 3 days on Fordyce, 1 day off, 3 days on Rubicon
 
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smfulle

Active Member
Location
Plain City, UT
The last two years we have run our flat fender group through the Rubicon the week in between the two Jamborees. Pluses to this week:
1. All the out houses that they fly in for the Jamborees are still scattered all along the trail. We brought our trail potties, but we didn’t need them.
2. Hundreds of rigs have just rolled through with paid rock stackers to get the rookies through safely so a lot of trail building doesn’t have to be done.
3. We started Sunday afternoon after the end of the first Jamboree. We saw a few people but rarely had to wait or worry about crowds holding us up.
4.The trail mechanics that they bring in for the Jamborees stay over the week at Rubicon Springs with nothing much to do but help you out and tell you stories when you come through.

Downsides to this week:
1. The out houses can be pretty nasty.
2. See #2 above.


We always park our trailers and tow rigs at Loon lake and start from there. Haven’t had any problems. Pretty long drive back around from Tahoe on the highway in a stock flat fender, but in your funny fender jeeps you probably wouldn’t even notice it.

You’re likely not to be able to have a campfire. Usually you can have a propane fire. We take one along with us for that campfire feel. You need a fire permit even for a gas stove. They are free and you can get them online.

Those two places are great places to camp. My experience is that Buck Island is 1st come gets the best site. There is a host at Rubicon Sorings and they expect some money from you. Can’t remember how much. Plan on stopping early enough to spend some time in the water. You will be covered in grey granite trail dust and will want to get it off if you.

We kept all our food in our open jeeps in totes and coolers. No troubles with critters, but no guarantee that you wouldn’t.
 

rwalk

Member
We ran the Rubicon in June this year, during what was apparently Rubithon (a big Toyota event). We set our dates before realizing it was the same weekend as a big event. See my responses to all your questions below:

1. Should there be any reason we should choose one week in that range more than another (weather, popularity, etc.)?
Not sure exactly what the season is for them out there, but the mosquitoes were horrible in June . Additionally, if you plan on doing any swimming in the lakes/river, the water was extremely cold when we were there, I could barely manage to splash myself with water to get in a quick shower in the river, never mind actually going swimming. Lastly, I suggest utilizing the Rubicon Springs event calendar as well as this one to plan your dates (Neither seem to have 2019 events added yet): https://calendar.google.com/calendar/embed?src=mg3i9djt2vuiavum68jondbhek@group.calendar.google.com&ctz=America/Los_Angeles&pli=1
2. Are there any pros/cons to starting from Loon Lake vs Airport Flat?
We chose to start at Airport Flat, but also run down and back up Loon Lake. I think this is the way to go because while Airport Flat starts as a dirt road for a bit, there are some awesome rock gardens that will challenge even big rigs not far before the intersection between the two. Loon Lake is awesome as well though and would be a bummer to miss IMO. It isn't a very long spur to add Loon in, we actually ran the entire trail from Loon to Tahoe in about 7 or 8 hours, granted that was with only 1 rig moving very quickly.
3. I figured camping at Buck Island Lake the first night, and Rubicon Springs the second night would be ideal, but is there enough to do between those 2 destinations to spend a day between the 2 nights?
Again, I wheel a lot faster than most, but I personally would find it hard to spend 2 nights on the trail UNLESS you don't mind hanging out at camp for a while each afternoon. Rubicon Springs seemed like it would be a very cool place to camp, lots of spots right on the river with some pretty awesome swimming holes. Just as an FYI, I don't believe these spots are part of the actual campground proper, just primitive first come/first serve areas along the trail.
4. Are reservations required at Buck Island?
We didn't stay there so don't quote me on it, but it didn't seem like you would need a reservation??
5. What amenities are there at RS? Are there any other facilities (outhouses) along the trail?
I don't know when the last time TurboMinivan has been on the Rubicon was but this year there are an absurd amount of bathrooms on the trail. They have them at just about every major obstacle and campsite. We talked to one of the Rubicon Trail Foundation guys who said they have a Unimog that comes and empties them every so often. They looked pretty new, so this could be a recent thing?
6. What efforts should be taken against bears? I am assuming it would be bad to keep food in the jeep overnight?
We didn't do anything besides leave a bit of space between the food/rigs and our camp. While we didn't have any issues, we did end up hearing that a bear was hanging around our neighbors camp. He was carrying a handgun and said that a shot in the air scared it off. I would definitely recommend at a minimum bringing a can of bear spray and strategically placing your food in bear-proof coolers away from your tents.
7. Lake Tahoe fun; before or after the trail?
After! You'll be tired, dirty, and dusty after finishing the trail and the lake is a great break before heading home. Plus the built in buffer at the end would be nice in case anything unexpected happens on the trail and you need to take an extra day to complete it.
8. Other fun things to do at Tahoe?
Downhill MTB, boating, gambling, drinking.. Depends what you're looking for, there's a lot to do around South Lake
9. Suggested places to park our trucks/trailers?
Plenty of room at both Loon Lake and Airport Flat. We were so worried about this before getting there and it turned out to be a non-issue. Loon definitely has more room, but there are a bunch of little areas around Airport Flat/the start of the trail over there to leave rigs/trailers. One note: It's way more of a PITA to run trailered rigs than we realized. From the end of the trail back to Loon or Airport Flat is about 2.5 hours of street time. Are your rigs at least streetable enough to have no problem on the highway portion of that drive? We chose to leave one truck/trailer at the end and one at the beginning, which proved to be a horribly time consuming shuttle. IMO here are the 2 preferred options if you have pretty streetable rigs:
1: From Reno come around the North side of the lake, park your tow rigs at the Tahoma trail head (again, lots of trailer parking), and drive your rigs to Airport/Loon.
2: From Reno, come in on the South side of the lake, which is a little quicker, find a place to park your tow rigs in South Lake (based on our 1 night there parking anywhere in town is a disaster, either no overnight or lots of $$ to park). Then drive your rigs to Airport/Loon, and from Tahoma to South Lake upon completion of the trail.

10. Campfires; I have seen some posts saying campfires are not allowed, but others that have shown photos with fires. This probably varies from year to year?
You have to monitor the El Dorado National Forest fire restrictions, as well as obtain a permit either at an EDNF office or online: http://www.preventwildfireca.org/Campfire-Permit/ We were able to have fires in June. I would think restrictions may come into play later in the summer/early fall?
11. Are there any nearby trails we should include in the trip? I have heard Fordyce is cooler than the Rubicon, but I worry about one of our jeeps in particular that is a brand new JL Rubicon - body damage and flooding.
I know I heard some locals talking about some other hard trails right in the vicinity of the Rubicon, but I don't have any info on them that I can remember. Fordyce seems awesome, but probably depends on how built all of your rigs are. If you chose to go later in the season you can avoid the deep fording most likely.
 

pkrfctr

Registered User
Location
Spanish Fork, UT
"If you chose to go later in the season you can avoid the deep fording most likely."
This is false. The only times you can cross without flooding the jeep (its not a big deal) is during sierra trek or super early in the year. Pp&g controls the flow and maintains it fairly consistently all summer. You can check flows online. We crossed in Aug at 375 cfm and it pushed us sideways. Water up to the windows with 40's.Anything over 350 is nuts, but fun. Duct taping the door seams on the high side helps too.
Barrett lake is a must run if you have the time while you're there. Personally I'd skip the 'con and run fordyce and barrett. If you're interested in some scenic but easier runs let me know and I can get you a list of a dozen good ones.
 

Mouse

Active Member
Fordyce trail is nearby and is one of my favorites...I think its more fun to drive that Rubicon but without the lore. If you have extra time, you might consider checking it out.
 

pkrfctr

Registered User
Location
Spanish Fork, UT
Fordyce trail is nearby and is one of my favorites...I think its more fun to drive that Rubicon but without the lore. If you have extra time, you might consider checking it out.
Mouse we should be friends, Fordyce is one of my favorite runs!
 

ID Bronco

Registered User
Location
Idaho Falls, ID
Barrett Jeep Trail is close too, I love that trail.
 

LJTim

Active Member
Location
Herriman, UT
I've got another question in prep for my Rubicon trip. We will be doing the "full" trail, starting near Airport Flat, sleeping at Rubicon Springs, then finishing the rest of the trail the next morning.

I know this next part is a loaded question, but how much gas do you think we will need from the turn off at Ice House Road through the rest of the trail? FYI, we all have 04 and newer jeeps with OEM motors and 37" tires. So just a general estimate would be great.
 

mbryson

.......a few dollars more
Supporting Member
I've got another question in prep for my Rubicon trip. We will be doing the "full" trail, starting near Airport Flat, sleeping at Rubicon Springs, then finishing the rest of the trail the next morning.

I know this next part is a loaded question, but how much gas do you think we will need from the turn off at Ice House Road through the rest of the trail? FYI, we all have 04 and newer jeeps with OEM motors and 37" tires. So just a general estimate would be great.

From the looks of things you may want snowmachines well into July?

I carried an extra 5 gal of gas for my TBI 350 Jeep and didn't need it. I drove from (I think) Tahoe Valley Campground through the trail and back to the trailer without using the 5 gal.

118722


Next trip, I took my JKU on 35" tires (4.88 gears) and gassed up at a convenience store just before turning onto Ice House Road. No issues with fuel there either. Both times I've went, we've done two nights on the trail. I think you can do a single night if your group doesn't have issues.
 
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