I get this question quite often and recently ran in to it on another website. Let me do my best to answer that question. The problem is there is no easy answer. Driver skill is a huge factor in whether or not you can make it, or more specifically, make it without damage.
Here it is, the last piece of pavement before hitting the trail.
Just a very short drive up the trail, 0.3 miles to be specific, there is what some refer to as a “gatekeeper”. But it’s not. It is a very easy example of what your rig should be able to drive over if you want to run the Rubicon Trail. In the picture below, I stayed on the trail but went around the ‘gatekeeper’.
Further up the trail, here is an example of what a lot of the first four miles look like on the Tahoe side. Most of these rocks are more of an inconvenience than a challenge to any high clearance vehicle.
The trail is off and on rocky. After the gatekeeper, this is one of the trickier sections on the way to Miller Lake.
Typically, there are just enough rocks in the trail to prevent users from driving too fast.
Currently, there are many wet sections within the Tahoe National Forest. There is often standing water in this area. Some of the puddles are deep but most of them rocky bottom.
Just over four miles from the staging area is the turn at the “Y”. At the “Y” is mile marker 11.5, that marks 11.5 miles to Loon Lake. Going straight will take you to Barker Pass on Forest Road 03-04. Turning left keeps you on the Rubicon Trail (16E75). (FYI, it wasn’t placer until 2018). The temperament of the trail changes once you make this turn, to harder.
It’s not until you get to what I call the “Potato Patch” at the 5.4-mile mark, that things get serious. This section changes almost weekly. One trip the best line is left and two weeks later the better line is right.
The trail retains this difficulty, on and off, mostly off, until you get on Cadillac Hill and to “The Steps” or “Morris Rock” at mile 8.2, again from the staging area. The next half mile is the most exciting section on your way to Rubicon Springs! At this point, if you have to ask if your rig can make it, don’t try it.
For those wanting to get out in this area, but aren’t sure if they can make it, try it! If you think you can’t make it or just don’t want to try it, turn around. Remember, Turn Around, Don’t Go Around.
A very nice drive in the area is the loop from the Rubicon Trail staging area up and around to Barker Pass. The trail gets easier as you get further away from the Rubicon Trail. I have yet to run that road this season, so I can’t be 100% sure of that.
The Hobbit Trail (16E76) has the difficulty of the Potato Patch. The trick to that trail is to do it without using reverse. It turns left, right, left, through the whole trail, a lot of fun. The (old) Red Cabin Trail (16E79), is more of a dirt road and takes you to Barker Pass proper. From Barker Pass, the Middle Fork Trail (15N38) is on the mild side but pay attention. There is also a paved road down to Highway 89 from Barker Pass.
For the record, my odometer reads high, almost 10%. So, take the measurements as a guide.