This is something I’ve been thinking about for years. I wanted to be able to rate the trails in the Rubicon area to give those new to the area an idea of what they will encounter before they get there.
I looked in to different scales from different groups: 0-10, 0-5, 1-10, etc. Each had something the other didn’t, I didn’t want to be that guy that says “This is how it will be!”
Luckily, I recently came across a scale from a group I greatly respect. The Overland Journal. I was there getting lined up to give a subscription as a Christmas present. Poking around the website, I came across their trail rating schedule:
(Copied directly from the Overland Journal website)
Improved/Graded Dirt Road
Passable by most standard vehicles, excluding those with low hanging body panels or that are designed for on-road sport driving with ultra low ride and tire section height.
Graded Dirt Road
Still passable by most 2WD vehicles. However, caution is required and lower speeds may be necessary for vehicles with less clearance. Small rocks (less than 5″) may be embedded in road surface. Sufficient room for passing on most of the road. Some steep grades possible. AWD required if road is wet or icy.
Not passable by standard passenger vehicles. High clearance preferred, AWD preferred. Steep grades present, larger rocks embedded in trail (less than 7″). Some loose trail surfaces and shallow water crossings possible. A spotter may be required on the most challenging portions to prevent body damage on vehicles with less clearance. Sand and dry washes may challenge available traction requiring lower air pressure on some vehicles. Trail may be narrow and require backing to allow other vehicles to pass.
Not suitable for 2WD vehicles, or low clearance cross over vehicles. AWD required, low range gearing preferred. Rutted, crossed axle terrain possible, with loose, steep climbs required. Deep sand possible. Some rock crawling possible on loose rocks up to 8″ in diameter. Some larger rocks may be present, possibly requiring a spotter to negotiate. Small ledges possible, with larger embedded rocks present. Water crossing to 12″ possible. Loose surfaces will be present, with tight clearance, smaller margin for error, and the possibility of body damage. Within the capability of any high clearance stock SUV or truck. AWD cross-over vehicles will struggle and may suffer damage due to lack of low range gearing.
High Clearance SUV or Truck required with low range gearing. Trail will be very rough and heavily eroded, with large, loose rocks present and steep, loose climbs requiring good traction and driver skill to negotiate. Wheel placement critical. Skid plates required, along with larger tires (31″+) necessary to prevent damage. Deeper water and mud crossings possible. Parts of the trail may be entirely in a wash, with loose sand and large rocks present. Possibility of rock ledges, and severe crossed axle obstacles. Good suspension articulation required to maintain traction. Rear limited slip differential or traction control system recommended to limit trail and vehicle damage.
High clearance SUV or truck required, taller suspension and tires recommended. Few stock vehicles capable of completing the trail without damage. Very large rocks exceeding 12″ present throughout trail requiring a spotter or heavily modified vehicle to traverse. Very loose and cambered climbs present, also heavily rutted requiring good suspension travel. Tall ledges present requiring good clearance or rocker panel protection. Little margin for error, and possibility of body damage. Tires must be 31″+ with aggressive tread and strong sidewalls. Lower tire pressure, skid plates, and limited slip or traction control required to prevent vehicle or trail damage. Rear locking differential and 32″+ tires recommended.
High clearance modified vehicle required. Not within the capability of a stock vehicle without damage. Trail likely in river or wash bottom with very large rocks present. Deep mud possible requiring aggressive tires and higher speeds. Water crossings in excess of 24″ possible. Heavily rutted and crossed axle terrain present, with large ledges and very steep hills with embedded and loose rocks. Body protection required to prevent damage, with good skid plates and stronger (or spare) steering components necessary. Winching and extraction possible. 32″ tires, rear locking differential and flexible suspension required. 33″ tires and front locking differential recommended.
|outside the scope of this website|
Heavily modified vehicle required. Extreme rock crawling, with very large ledges present requiring winching for shorter wheelbase (SWB) vehicles. Body and drivetrain damage likely. Very cambered terrain may cause rollovers. Water crossings may be hood high, and mud will be very deep and heavily rutted. Vehicles will require heavy modifications. 33″+ tires required, along with front and rear locking differentials in upgraded axles. 35-37″ tires recommended. Winch required on SWB vehicles. Roll cages or full metal roof required. Driver must be experienced.
Custom vehicle, very experienced driver required. Competition-level vehicles on insane terrain with frequent rollovers and drivetrain damage. Full custom vehicles with massive axles, 37″+ tires, cutting brakes, very low gears, 1-ton drivetrain, and custom chassis.
So, applying this to trails around the Rubicon:
Trail rating of 1:
-Forest Road 03: It’s paved from the lake (Tahoe) to the summit. After that it is an improved dirt road due to the gravel put down, at least to the kiosk and bathroom area.
Trail rating of 1.5:
-Forest Road 03 past the kiosk area. Graded by not improved.
-03-04: This is the road from Barker Pass to the Rubicon Trail. It starts as a 1.5, well graded, large rolling dips. BUT, it finishes as a 2.5!
Trail rating of 2.0:
I’m going to put most of the Rubicon Trail from the Tahoe staging area to the turn at Forest Road 03-04. There are a few 2.5 sections as you climb out of the basin, but doable in 2wd by a skilled driver.
-14N39 Richardson Lake Trail: this has been worked on by the Forest Service over the last few years in order to meet S&G100 issues and to reroute an erosion prone climb near the summit.
-16E79 Upper Barker Meadow OHV Trail: this is a rolling trail that doesn’t offer much challenge
Trail rating 2.5:
The Rubicon Trail from the turn at Forest Road 03-04 to Observation Point.
-16E76 Barker Meadow OHV Trail
Trail rating 3.0:
The Rubicon Trail from Observation down to Morris Rock (or The Steps)
Trail rating 3.5:
The Rubicon from Morris Rock to the Springs
Trail rating 4.0:
One could argue that a few of the obstacles on Cadillac are 4.0 but I’ve seen less build rigs maneuver through without issues. It takes a very skilled driver but it can be done.
Trail rating 4.5:
I’m putting the Fordyce Trail in this category. Now not the entire trail but it has MANY sections or obstacles that rate a 4.5.
Trail rating 5.0:
It’s my website, so I would put trail such as those in Johnson Valley in this category. Competition level stuff.
Remember that weather can change a trail rating in a heart beat. Just a little rain on a slab of granite, turns that fine dust in to micro ball bearings. And if that water freezes on that slab, look out. Always travel prepared to spend the night: food, water shelter, etc.
Over the winter, I’ll try and update each trail page with a better description and a trail rating.
This was recently emailed to me. (I added the photos.) I felt I needed to share this with others. I have emailed some but thought since I have a place to speak my mind, I should. My apologies for the politics. I promise this won’t happen often. This is the only political piece I’ve ever posted.
Take a stand….
You graduated high school in 2011. Your teenage years were a struggle. You grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. Your mother was the leader of the family and worked tirelessly to keep a roof over your head and food on your plate.
Academics were a struggle for you and your grades were mediocre at best. The only thing that made you stand out is you weighed 225lbs and could run 40 yards in 4.2 seconds while carrying a football. Your best friend was just like you, except he didn’t play football. Instead of going to football practice after school, he went to work at McDonalds for minimum wage.
You were recruited by all the big colleges and spent every weekend of your senior year making visits to universities where coaches and boosters tried to convince you their school was best. They laid out the red carpet for you. Your best friend worked double shifts at Mickey D’s. College was not an option for him.
On the day you signed with Big State University, your best friend signed paperwork with his Army recruiter. You went to summer workouts. He went to basic. You spent the next four years living in the athletic dorm, eating at the training table. You spent your Saturdays on the football field, cheered on by adoring fans. Tutors attended to your every academic need. You attended class when you felt like it. Sure, you worked hard. You lifted weights, ran sprints, studied plays, and soon became one of the top football players in the country.
Your best friend was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. While you were in college, he deployed to Iraq once and Afghanistan twice. He became a Sergeant and led a squad of 19 year old soldiers who grew up just like he did. He shed his blood in Afghanistan and watched young American’s give their lives, limbs, and innocence for the USA.
You went to the NFL combine and scored off the charts. You hired an agent and waited for draft day. You were drafted in the first round and your agent immediately went to work, ensuring that you received the most money possible. You signed for $16 million although you had never played a single down of professional football. Your best friend re-enlisted in the Army for four more years. As a combat tested sergeant, he will be paid $32,000 per year.
You will drive a Ferrari on the streets of South Beach. He will ride in the back of a Blackhawk helicopter with 10 other combat loaded soldiers. You will sleep at the Ritz. He will dig a hole in the ground and try to sleep. You will “make it rain” in the club. He will pray for rain as the temperature reaches 120 degrees.
On Sunday, you will run into a stadium as tens of thousands of fans cheer and yell your name. For your best friend, there is little difference between Sunday and any other day of the week. There are no adoring fans. There are only people trying to kill him and his soldiers. Every now and then, he and his soldiers leave the front lines and “go to the rear” to rest. He might be lucky enough to catch an NFL game on TV. When the National Anthem plays and you take a knee, he will jump to his feet and salute the television. While you protest the unfairness of life in the United States, he will give thanks to God that he has the honor of defending his great country.
To the players of the NFL: We are the people who buy your tickets, watch you on TV, and wear your jerseys. We anxiously wait for Sundays so we can cheer for you and marvel at your athleticism. Although we love to watch you play, we care little about your opinions until you offend us. You have the absolute right to express yourselves, but we have the absolute right to boycott you. We have tolerated your drug use and DUIs, your domestic violence, and your vulgar displays of wealth. We should be ashamed for putting our admiration of your physical skills before what is morally right. But now you have gone too far. You have insulted our flag, our country, our soldiers, our police officers, and our veterans. You are living the American dream, yet you disparage our great country. I am done with NFL football and encourage all like-minded Americans to boycott the NFL as well.
National boycott of the NFL for Sunday November 12th, Veterans Day Weekend
Boycott all football telecast, all fans, all ticket holders, stay away from attending any games, let them play to empty stadiums. Pass this post along to all your friends and family. Honor our military, some of whom come home with the American Flag draped over their coffin.
Long link but I didn’t feel like editing it down.
Regardless, the Governor of CA has signed the bill regarding OHV grant funding. Our funding is now permanent!!!!
For those of you that haven’t seen them, a few new boulders appeared on Cadillac Hill after this past epic winter, just below Morris Rock.
Here’s a photo looking down Morris Rock. The three large boulders on the right are new.
It looks like someone has started to split the new boulders. Look at the three drill marks on the face of the rock with a horizontal face.
The new boulders make the approach a little narrow but I watched a JK with a trailer make it without issues last week.
California Huge OHV Victory
Future Secured by Bipartisan Legislation
BLUERIBBON COALITION/SHARETRAILS.ORG MEDIA RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: September 19, 2017
Contact: Don Amador, 925-625-6287
FUTURE OF OHV RECREATION IN GOLDEN STATE SECURED BY PASSAGE OF BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION
POCATELLO, ID (September 19, 2017) – State lawmakers in Sacramento recently passed Senate Bill 249 that permanently reauthorizes the California OHV Program. This historic vote-which also included Senate Bill 159, a companion bill that contained the funding structure for the program-had precedent setting broad support from both the conservation and OHV communities.
The BlueRibbon Coalition/Sharetrails.org (BRC) was part of a diverse OHV stakeholder group that championed the current OHV program managed by the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division (OHMVRD) that is an important member of the California State Park family.
Don Amador, Western Representative for the BlueRibbon Coalition/Sharetrails.org, stated, “As a member of the 2007 drafting team that helped create the SB 742-based current program, I believe passage of the new SB 249 legislation honors the spirit and intent of our program that has been heralded as a national model for environmentally responsible OHV recreation.”
“I believe a lot of credit goes to the thousands of OHV enthusiasts, partners such as county sheriffs, and non-profit conservation groups, who took time to write letters and/or make phone calls to legislators and the Governor stating their strong support for the current program that granted monies to maintain trails, support law enforcement, open new riding areas and trails, fund important restoration projects, and pay for valuable rider education programs,” Amador continued.
“Credit should also be given to Senator Ben Allen, author of SB 249, for listening to concerns voiced by the OHV coalition, partners, and rural communities about how changes needed to be made to the original bill as that early version was simply too costly because it imposed an unwarranted level of additional environmental studies, reviews, and reports. The OHV Commission and State Park leadership also had key roles in helping resolve contentious issues with early versions of SB 249,” Amador concluded.
The OHV community and our conservation partners should be proud of the passage of this legislation that finally removes the sunset and makes our OHV program a permanent fixture at State Parks. We look forward to Governor Brown signing these bills in the near future.