Nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of Northern California, the Rubicon Trail reigns as one of the West’s most famous off-road expeditions. Officially known as Rubicon/McKinney Road, the trail was initially established as a stagecoach route in the early 1800’s to serve two hotels in Georgetown and the Lake Tahoe community of Tahoma. Over the years, as the hotels closed, stagecoaches vanished and time rolled on, the road condition deteriorated to a rocky, dusty array of obstacles that today’s 4×4 enthusiasts consider nothing short of awesome.
Since the first Jeeper’s Jamboree was held along the Rubicon in 1953, the 22 mile trail has gained national recognition from 4×4, ATV and motorcycle enthusiasts of all skill levels. The Rubicon is a true gem of Northern California, running through gorgeous back country and accessible from four main staging points: Georgetown, Loon Lake, Wentworth Springs and Tahoe. Each staging area is unique and offers the chance to access the trail at different points while safely unloading trailers or prepping vehicles for the ride.
The allure of the trail is as breathtaking as its grandeur. The Rubicon is holy ground for off road enthusiasts and equestrian riders alike with breathtaking views and technical challenges placed smack dab in the middle of God’s country. Even major corporations have taken note of the trail’s splendor and fame, as noted by the Jeep Wrangler’s Rubicon model. Generations of people have loved this trail, but today there’s a notable risk of the Rubicon suffering from overuse.
An estimated 70,000 people venture to the Rubicon during the picturesque Northern California summer months and while the majority of them are considerate, conscious off road drivers; some simply choose to blaze their own trail. This blatant disrespect for the land has left the scars of tire marks and ruts in environmentally sensitive areas, along with the trash of a good time scattered along the trail. In order to maintain the recreational ability of the Rubicon, in addition to maintaining a positive environmental image, concerned Northern California residents have come together to create a few Rubicon advocacy groups.
Today, organized work days take place throughout the summer with a volunteer workforce breaking a sweat while clearing litter, raking in water bars and providing otherwise overlooked trail maintenance. These groups also spread a clear message of using the trail responsibly in order to ensure its availability for future generations while working with local government and community bodies to ensure the long term viability of the Rubicon.
Thankfully, with active clean-up and maintenance efforts by dedicated volunteers, the Rubicon looks promising as continuing to maintain its place upon the American four wheeler’s pedestal.