Driving the Rubicon Trail

Driving the Rubicon Trail

Brought to you by Newark Chrysler Jeep Dodge of Newark, DE

Most off-roaders know that the Jeep Rubicon is the company's most off-road capable trim. While the base-trim Wranglers are well equipped to go on and off the road, the Rubicon is special. It is designed with a plethora of heavy-duty components that make it ready for serious off-roading. What many people may not realize, though, is that the Rubicon name comes from a physical place: the Rubicon Trail in Northern California. The Rubicon Trail is a 22-mile long path that has been used by generations of people and today has become a bucket list destination for modern off-roaders.   

The history of the Rubicon Trail

Originally, what has become known as the Rubicon Trail was used by Native Americans traveling back and forth between Lake Tahoe and the Sacramento Valley.  The trail was not discovered by European travelers until the 1840s. The trail was named for the Rubicon River, which the trail crosses over. The river is named after the Rubicon River in Italy. That Rubicon River was crossed in 49 BC by Julius Caesar during the Roman Civil War. Since that time, "crossing the Rubicon" has become a metaphor for "the point of no return." The first automobile crossing of the Rubicon Trail was done in 1908, by a woman who drove from Lake Tahoe to Rubicon Springs. After that, the trail has seen over a hundred years of motor vehicle use and was the location of the first Jeep Jamboree in 1953.

The actual location

The Rubicon Trail can be found in the historic gold-rush territory of northern California. It crosses several parts of the Sierra Nevada range. To get there, you go to Riverton, CA to the junction of US 50 and Ice House Road. Then go north and make your way to Loon Lake. On the west side of Loon Lake, near the dam, you can find the start of the Rubicon trailhead.

Important waypoints

Here are the essential waypoints of the Rubicon Trail that you should be aware of, as well as bits of information about them.
The Ice House Resort - Here's a place to stock up on food, ice, and drinks for the very last time on your trip across the Rubicon Trail.
Loon Lake Dam - You'll have to cross over this in order to get to the trailhead itself. 
Granite Bridge - It is a shallow water crossing on the trail. Shortly after the Granite Bridge, you'll come across some difficult rocky spots.
Little Sluice - This is known as the best camping site in the area, so you will likely find many people taking advantage of it.
Soup Bowl - This one is a rocky obstacle that can be surmounted with a careful approach.

Preparing your vehicle

Frankly, the Rubicon Trail offers a serious off-road challenge. Those who have been there say to "expect some vehicle damage" because you are going to get stuck and pulled out multiple times during the trip. Your 4x4 should have: a locking differential, at least one frame-mounted recovery point (front and rear), and a winch rated for twice the weight of your vehicle. It will also need some protection for its drivetrain, such as skid plates for the transmission pan, transfer case, and gas tank. To protect yourself and other occupants, a roll bar is a good idea, too. And the tires should be at least 33 inches with 3-ply sidewalls and good tread. 

Spend a few days

Plan on doing your Rubicon Trail adventure over a two-day period, minimum. You can camp along most of the trail with the most popular spots: Ellis Creek, Buck Island Lake, the observation point at Cadillac, and Wentworth Springs. Last but not least, keep in mind that you are not allowed to drive off-trail and that you need a permit if you want to build fires. And, be sure to clean up after yourself and leave the trail as you found it.

Final thoughts

Those that have traversed the Rubicon Trail say it really is a bucket list item and should be experienced at least once during your driving lifetime. However, keep in mind that the trail isn't an easy one. If you have any questions about what that means for your vehicle, give the folks at Newark Chrysler Jeep Dodge a shout. That being said, prepare well and you'll enjoy a breathtaking experience.

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