Author’s note: I was going to hold off on this just to space out my posts but a conversation online just now made me decide to post it. For the record, I don’t alter the trail. I repair the trail. My work is pre-approved by the Tahoe National Forest or involves getting water off or across the trail in order to minimize erosion. (Also pre-approved; generally not specifically.)
Unfortunately, there are those out there that alter the trail for their own personal gain, either making the trail easier or making the trail harder. Some are trying to do good work but skip too many steps and the work doesn’t last and sometimes hurts.
In order for keep our trails open, safe and maintained properly, we must all speak up when our opinions are being asked. We should volunteer when we can. Comment on grants, attend your local FS meetings, join organizations that fight for your ‘pursuit of happiness’! Rant Off.
A new illegal bypass has appeared on Cadillac Hill this summer. I don’t know when it appeared or who started it but it’s not the first of it’s kind. Not twenty yards from this one was a previous attempt to bypass the trail around a difficult section.
You can see the ‘new’ bypass looking straight in to the photo. The top of the old bypass is in front of the bumper of the Jeep on the right side of the photo.
I get that people are tired and sometimes broken when they are driving out, but that doesn’t mean you are allowed to make an easier route. Please stay on the trail.
The bypass was blocked by moving a rather large log to block the route.
Both ends of the log were drilled and rebar was placed to prevent the removal of the log. I know this will not prevent those who really want to remove it from removing it but they will have to work at it and they will know they are doing something wrong.
Signs were placed on both sides of the log to let people know that this is the will of the forest service, not an individual.
Not wanting to hide from the work I perform under the guidance of the forest service, I put the logo of this website on the sign along with the USFS logo and the CA State Parks logo because they mange and fund respectively a large portion of the maintenance of our OHV trails.
We are our own worst enemy sometimes. Driving off trail and creating new route just gives the anti-OHV people more ammunition to use against us and to close our trails.
We need to work together. There are those who illegally modify the trail to make it harder and there are those who illegally drive off trail to find an easier route. We need to find a middle ground.
If you would like to discuss this issue further, please email me TheOtherRubicon@Charter.net.
This campground is even a little more formal than Blackwood. You get cleaner pit toilets, parking on asphalt and a view of Lake Tahoe. But there is a catch, you must pay. These campsite can be reserved so call ahead.
And you must obey…
If that didn’t scare you off, the entrance is right off highway 89 at the entrance to Blackwood Canyon and forest road 03:
Plenty of FS rules, notices and instructions:
Nicer pit toilets as there is a camp host who lives in his RV in the parking lot all summer long.
It’s a bit of a hike to get to some of the campsites. And there not much separating you from your neighbors.
Did I mention a view of Lake Tahoe? It’s a “filtered” view.
There is a trade off between a great lake view and a little more road noise.
Just in case you’re interested, the FS is looking for help in the form of campground host.
The guy working there this summer says he splits his time between Kaspian and the Meeks Bay campground. He travels a lot and doesn’t work the same area two summers in a row. It could be a great retirement gig and a great way to see the country.
For a more formal (minimally) camping experience in the Rubicon area, one of my suggestions is the Blackwood Campground. To get there, drive two miles up Blackwood Canyon on the paved forest road 03, then keep right on to forest road (trail) 15N38, the Middle Fork Trail. The first section of the trail to the camp area is a flat dirt road. Okay, it has a few low rollers and too many potholes, but a motorhome could get there.
This is a designated camp area so you are only allowed to put up a tent and stay over night in one of the six designated campsites. It’s a first come, first serve, no reservation area. There are two pit toilets and plenty of parking for large groups. Although the FS only allows six people per campsite per this sign posted at Blackwood but bearing the name of “Luther Pass”:
There is a large day use meeting/cooking area. Please check fire restrictions before using the BBQ. It would be a great place to have a group meet up as an alternative to the Rubicon staging area.
The campground map:
The pit toilets and ample parking.
Photos of the campsites, some are in the trees more than others. Bear boxes, fire pit with grill and a picnic bench are provided in each site.
Now the signs don’t say anything about parking regulations. So here’s a thought, if the Rubicon staging area is full, park here and either drive the highway down to the Rubicon or if you’re in a green sticker vehicle, drive the LONG drive on forest road 03 over to the Rubicon. It’s probably 15 miles.
You could take 15N38 (Middle Fork) to the summit, then 16E79 (Upper Barker Meadow) to 03, then drop down 16E76 (Lower Barker Meadow) to the Rubicon. Lower Barker Meadow OHV Route is a kick in the pants. If you haven’t done it, check it out. You will never hold the steering wheel straight.
This is an open letter to the Jeep/Chrysler Corporation regarding the recent running of the Rubicon Trail by the newest Trailhawk, the “Trail Rated” badge Jeep has been using for years and their lack of support to the Rubicon Trail and those who work so hard to keep it open and accessible year round for all types of users:
1000 Chrysler Drive
Auburn Hills, Michigan
September 17, 2016
The story goes that Jeep drove two brand new, absolutely stock, Grand Cherokee Trailhawks through the world famous Rubicon Trail this past summer:
What an accomplishment! I only wish I had a Subaru Forester handy to follow you down the trail to show how easy your crew made the trail. As rumor has it, you had a bunch of professional Jeepers Jamboree ‘rock rollers’ ensuring that the Cherokee never had more than a four inch obstacle in its path.
Having been involved in Rubicon trail maintenance for more than 15 years, this year I noticed a change in the east end of the Rubicon Trail, specifically Cadillac Hill, after your Grand Cherokees drove the trail. In my 31 years of Jeep ownership and experience on Cadillac Hill, I’ve never experienced Cadillac Hill so easy.
Now, I understand that some rock stacking takes place during a trip through the Rubicon Trail. I even threw a few rocks for myself on the Fordyce Trail this summer during Sierra Trek. But when your crew literally throws the larger rocks off the trail and over the cliff that changes the trail for everyone forever as those rocks are never going to be replaced.
It’s sad enough that Jeep has used the Rubicon name for years and has never done anything to support the maintenance efforts on the Rubicon Trail. But the complete opposite has now happened; you came to the Rubicon Trail and literally paved it for an advertisement plug and walked away from any responsibility of not having followed the time honored and respected motto of Tread Lightly!
As far as I’m concerned, you have lost credibility in the OHV world with your vehicle, by your actions on the Rubicon Trail and your inactions in regards to maintaining the Rubicon Trail.
Would you like to see Jeep as an actual player in the OHV world? Would you like to see current OHV users talk positively of the Jeep/Chrysler Corporation? Would you like to start Jeep back on a path to the glory days that Bantam and Willys started? Yes? Good! Here’s some advice:
Work with the clubs, groups, organizations, individuals and agencies that have been working for decades to ensure year round access to the Rubicon Trail for all types of OHV users.
Build a model without the wood insets and automatic climate controls and with a solid front axle under it, even if it’s just a limited run of a special “Rubicon” edition with $1000 of each sale going to the maintenance and future preservation of the Rubicon Trail.
If you aren’t willing to make those changes, contract a ‘builder’ in the Reno or Sacramento area to build 500 Rubicon Editions by taking a stock Grand Cherokee and letting the builder modify the vehicle to really make it honestly “Trail Rated” with a solid front axle, lift kit, larger tires, etc. Detroit did a lot of this back in the 60’s and 70’s with muscle cars. Again, I would expect a donation with the sale of each vehicle to go to the Rubicon Trail.
Bottom line, it’s time Jeep steps up and does something to payback for what Jeep has benefitted from regarding the Rubicon Trail and those who built, drove and loved the Jeep product for decades.
Currently owned Jeeps: ’85 CJ-7, ’84 CJ-7, ’47 CJ-2A
Previously owned Jeeps: ’87 Wrangler, ’52 Willys PU, ’83 CJ-5, ’89 Cherokee, ’98 Cherokee
The Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s have adopted the Long Lake Trail (16E12) since it was officially recognized by the USFS in 2014. Since 2011, we have been working with the USFS by bringing FS personnel out there and doing trail maintenance to the point they would accept it, including removing an outhouse and hardening a seasonal creek crossing.
There is a campsite off the trail about halfway down the trail. It is a sharp U-turn to the left and brings you right down along the Rubicon River. This campsite is great for larger groups and offers a quiet change of pace from Rubicon Springs.
Here is the hard left U-turn:
Looking down the campsite, the Rubicon River on the right:
Unfortunately, some people have tried to make this a drive through site by driving off trail, down a granite slab and through a marsh (in spring time). The Forest Service will not allow this ‘through route’.
This was one of three turns off the Long Lake Trail in to the back of the campsite:
This is the ‘backdoor’ in the campsite that in the spring time is a wet muddy marsh:
The Hi-Lo’s have now blocked the ‘through route’ several times. This time we added 4×4 posts with signage explaining the campsite boundary and the possible consequences if the off trail driving continues.
There is now no mistaking this as a possible route to the campsite:
Within the campsite, we added some educational materials to the 4×4 posts:
Having the campsite as a one way in/out is much nicer than a through route. I wouldn’t want anyone driving through my camp at 1am trying to figure out where the actual trail runs.
Also, please note that the trail is only 0.91 miles long. It ends before a 90 degree right turn, an extremely steep climb up a granite slab and another 90 degree left turn; which leads to a boulders strewn seasonal waterfall.
Driving past the recognized end of the trail could result in fines.
Although I do not promote or support driving off trail, the Long Lake Trail is not well defined past the campsite. There are easy routes and extreme routes to get to the end of the trail.
When driving the Long Lake Trail at night, please be extremely cautious. There are steep drops all along the trail. It’s best to have someone walk the trail in front of your rig in order to prevent accidents.
Link to a Photo Journal of the Long Lake Trail.
All I ask is that you always Tread Lightly!
- Don’t drive over bushes
- Don’t leave oil spills on the granite
- Use a WAG bag when camping on granite slabs
- Don’t spin your tires so much you leave marks on the granite
- Leave a clean camp
- Make sure your fire is out cold (Have fires only when restrictions lifted)
- Keep the music down after 10pm
- Pack-it-in, pack-it-out
- Respect other campers
This trail has something for everyone. As long as we respect the trail and each other, we will all be able to enjoy it.