Pole Creek / Cabin Creek Trails

Okay, so this is not really a Rubicon Area trail but it’s in the neighborhood, sort-of. The trail runs from near Truckee along highway 89 south of highway 80 to below Squaw Valley.

It has a very narrow window of opportunity due to private property and the mating season of some animal I can’t remember. But, on Monday August 1st, the Pole Creek / Cabin Creek Trail officially opened.

The previous Saturday, the Tahoe Donner Four Wheelers did a trail maintenance run. 20160730_120200_resized_1

The trail is not difficult but full width vehicles or really long wheelbases are not recommended. The trail is narrow and has two very tight switchbacks near the north end.


I didn’t take pictures but the club trimmed back quite a bit of brush and at one water crossing filled a growing hole with rock from the area. Before and after:

Pole Creek Maintenance 07_30_16 (1) - 25 of 82Pole Creek Maintenance 07_30_16 (1) - 44 of 82

Did I mention the views were awesome:


And these aren’t the tight switchbacks.


Not a great picture of the back side of Squaw but this is where they do the cliff jumping for the Warren Miller ski films. You really get a good idea of how those jumps work with the tremendous run out after the fall.


Cool formations where we stopped for lunch near the north end.


Behind me there is a trailhead that leads up to Tinkers Knob. It an hour to an hour and a half round trip.


At the end of 16E84, at the north gate, we moved a bunch of logs to block a few illegal routes going around the gate. We’ll be back to harden those barriers before winter.

So, getting there can be a little tricky. Pick up the latest MVUM. Here’s a link for now: TNF South MVUM.

We ran it south to north. Catch forest road 08-01 off highway 89. There is a sign board there and the road starts off paved. This road takes you up to a cabin and bathroom which I missed the name of.

Further up the trail, you will make a left turn on to forest road 08. That is the south gate we had to unlock for the season. The trail you’re really looking for is 16E84.

As I said, the trail is not difficult but it is narrow and there are a few off camber sections. Water does cross the trail in several places. The Tahoe Donner Four Wheelers are working to harden these crossings.

When you reach the other gate, be mindful of the views off to the north west. You can see highway 80 in the distance near Donner Lake.

Getting back to pavement gets a little tricky. The intersections are not yet well marked but you’re looking for 01-06 and then 01 to get you back to Cabin Creek Road. That’s the road to the dump.

Along the way there are several old cabins from hunters or shepherds of days go by. There will be a series of rock walls in the trees to your right that I have no idea why they were built.

You can travel further north before dropping down to 89 by taking 01-03 down to 89.

Carry a map. In our group, some of the GPS units had the trails programmed, so that’s also an option.

Here’s a link to a set of photos taken by Bill Ratcliff the day of our maintenance run: Google Photo Link


“Turn Around, Don’t Go Around”




Ellis Lake Trail

So, it officially starts as the Ellis Peak Trail (03-04012-05), that’s the right turn past Miller Lake, the range fence and just after the “pond”. There is one dead-end trail that is not marked and not yet blocked, stay left. When you get to a four-way intersection, that should be better marked by Aug 5th, go straight (16E18) don’t turn right.

This route will take you to Ellis Lake.


I was there mid-July and there was still a snow drift or two.


This is a perfect camp for someone who wants to sleep in. The towering ridge to the east, that includes Ellis Peak, shelters you from the morning sun.


I have no idea if there are fish but it would be a great float late in the afternoon. I’ve heard there might be a bug issue in the area too early in the season.


A very short walk provides a view of Blackwood Canyon.

West towards Barker Pass:


Further east towards the entrance of the canyon at the Kaspian Camp ground:


Here’s a view of Ellis Lake from Ellis Peak. Note the severe drop off on what would be the north west corner of the lake.


And a view of Buck Lake and the south end of Lake Tahoe from Ellis Peak.


If you or your club, group business or whatever would like to “Adopt” this trail and campsite, please let me know.

This is just one of many examples of what is out there in the Rubicon Trail area. Get out there and find enjoy it all.


“Turn Around, Don’t Go Around”






Fire Restrictions


Fire restriction are in place now on the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. They started July 1st.

Fire restrictions start on the Tahoe National Forest July 11th.

Eldorado Forest fire restrictions started July 21st.

You can have a propane grill but you still need a permit.

No welding while fire restrictions are in place. Maybe on private property WITH PERMISSION. Have water and shovels ready at all times.


Forest Road 03-06-02

So I bought a dual sport. A 2009 Kawasaki KLX250s. Well, this past Saturday I finally got some decent time on it. Earlier, I took the bike up the Rubicon but didn’t get too far. This time it was two and a half hours. I went out exploring the OHV trails around the Barker Pass area.

This writing is specifically about forest road 03-06-02. It is the trail that  ventures the furthest west past Barker Pass. At one time, this trail looped around to the south and hooked up with forest road 03. Then came the Granite Chief Wilderness area.

But it almost makes it better for camping because nobody goes out there!

The drive/ride along forest road 03 to get to 03-06 and then 03-06-02 gives you some great views of the valley that runs from Rubicon Springs to the Hell Hole reservoir. That’s the valley of the Long Lake Trail, 16E12, another trail to check out.

There are a few trees down towards the end of the trail. This is only the first.

03-06-02 first tree

A short hike down the trail, past the first tree blocking the trail, which I am sure if far from the end of the trail, you get a glimpse of Hell Hole Reservoir through the trees.


With a 50 yard hike from the trail you get some great views of Hell Hole. You might not be able to tell but you can see evidence of the King fire on the far bank of the lake.


Further down the trail there are more trees.

03-06 trees

This is where I think the trail officially ends. It is not pictured well but there is an unnatural dirt berm attempting to block the trail.

03-06 dirt pile

Past the official end of the trail there are still more trees blocking the trail.

more 03-06 trees

We’ll see if I can work with the Tahoe National Forest and get an accurate GPS of the end of the trail and then clear any trees blocking access to the true end of the trail.

I suggest that you get out and explore sections of our public lands you haven’t seen before. Here’s a hint, look for the trails that dead end far away from other trails.




New signage at trailhead

Just an FYI…

There is new signage posted at the Rubicon trailhead. Looks like the old faded MVUM and RTF map were taken down. The RTF map was replaced with a smaller version, while the map of the “Rubicon Area OHV Trails” was replaced with a larger version that is now being printed in color and has local hiking trails.


Across the bottom of the sign are logos of some of the participating clubs, groups and government agencies. There are probably more that should be recognized.

The same old Forest Service notices still remain.






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