Major snow dump in the Sierras

We just got through a series of major storms. Honestly, the biggest of the season. The summits got more than six feet of snow. The Homewood Mountain Resort claims about five feet over the last the last week. That means the Rubicon is buried.

So, I drove past Monday (March 5th) and took a few pictures of the entrance. I was up there just before the storms and took some to compare:

Last Monday the 26th: really no berm to speak of…


Again, this was before the storm just 100 yards up the trail:


After the latest storms: now the neighborhood probably got two feet of snow but notice the snow is piled higher than my six foot tall truck.


Compare that to berms around the neighborhood, maybe three feet tall. I have already sent an email to Placer County letting them know this is unacceptable (dumping snow on a county right of way) and that although the County probably didn’t do it, they need to remove it as they would a load of rock dropped on any county road. Don’t hold your breath.


Looking over the berm, where no motor vehicle has driven, yet; it looks like a good place for a fun day of snow play.


The berm will need to be taken down. Right now you could get a quad or snowmobile through the slot but not much else.


Let me get on my safety soap box…

I can’t say it enough but travel prepared. Figure something will go wrong and you have to spend the night, or two. Have food, water, clothing and shelter for multiple people and many nights.

Believe it or not, some people still don’t get it.

Rig near Miller 1

(Photo stolen from a post on Pirate4x4 by “The Fixxer”.)

This rig has been stuck on the trail for a few weeks now. It’s just east of Miller Lake at the water hole. There was room to go around but not much. Now think about this with 4-5 feet of snow burying it.

You might be wheeling along just fine and not realize the rig is underneath you. Honestly, it’s probably still visible but there is a greater chance of sliding in to it if you try and go around.

Some fellow Hi-Lo’s are reaching out to the authorities and the owner to see if we can help get the rig out or at least off to the side for the safe passage of others.

I’ll keep you posted.


Rubicon Ronin




Reno ’18 Motorsports Show and Fun Run

I spoke with Al Lockett at last night’s Hills Angels meeting. He’s announced the Fun Runs that will accompany the Motorsports Show for 2018.

First the Motorsports show. It’s March 16, 17 & 18 at the Reno Convention Center. I will have a booth there again this year along with a bunch of local 4wd clubs.


This will be the 10th annual Motorsports Show that happens along with the Home Show, Boat Show and Pet Show. So, there will be something for everyone in the family.

The local clubs always have a great display of their rigs


The Fun Runs will benefit the Blue Ribbon Coalition (BRC). There are three runs scheduled. All will meet in the Dayton area on Saturday March 10th, a week before the Motorsports show. The “Wild” run is the Hackett Trail. They estimate it will take ten to twelve hours to complete. If there is any fresh snow, that run will be cancelled.

I’ drawing a blank on the middle run but I think it will be the Eldorado trail. Always a fun trail anytime of year.

The “Mild” run is scheduled to be dirt backroads from Dayton up to Virginia City for lunch and back again.

All runs depart from “Our Park” at Highway 50 and River Street in Dayton, NV. Staging is at 9am and they depart at 9:30am.

Here’s a link to the Fun Run page on Facebook. More on the Motorsport show on other Facebook pages:

Come out and say hi.


Rubicon Ronin



TNF open house for 2018 OHV grants

The Tahoe National Forest will be holding an open house for users to voice their opinions on what needs to be done to our TNF trails. I’m going to try and make this one but I won’t stay the full three hours.

I encourage everyone to stop by and talk OHV with those that manage our resources. It’s a great time to et to know those involved.


U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region TAHOE NATIONAL FOREST 631 Coyote Street Nevada City, CA 95959

News Release

Contact: Joe Flannery 530-478-6205 or 530-587-3558 February 5, 2018

Open House Planned for Tahoe National Forest Off-Highway Vehicle Program Grant Application

NEVADA CITY, Calif. – The U.S. Forest Service has scheduled an open house in preparation for an annual application to the California Department of Parks and Recreation, Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division, to request funding for trail maintenance, restoration, development of facilities, law enforcement, and planning for off-highway vehicle (OHV) access.

On Thursday, February 15, 2018, the Forest Service will host an open house from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. for individuals and organizations to provide input and review proposals for the application.

“I encourage anyone interested in the OHV program to drop by this informal open house to discuss their ideas on these proposals,” said Joe Chavez, Tahoe National Forest Trails Program Coordinator. Written comments are encouraged by February 23.

These annual grants provide important funds for the Forest Service to develop and maintain trails and trailheads, repair winter storm damage and restore trailside environments, as well as provide patrolling and monitoring of these areas. When finalized, the grants will be available for public review and comment on the State of California’s website ( from March 6 – April 2, 2018.

What:              Open House to discuss off highway vehicle grant proposals

Where:            Tahoe National Forest Headquarters

631 Coyote St., Nevada City, CA 95959

Upstairs conference room (enter from upper parking lot behind building)

 When:             Thursday evening – February 15, 2018

4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Questions, comments or letters can be directed to:

Joe Chavez, Forest Trails Program Coordinator

Tahoe National Forest, 631 Coyote St., Nevada City, CA 95959


(530) 478-6158





OHV grants available to clubs

Extreme Terrain has a program for helping clubs with projects on their local trails. They call it the “Clean Trail Grant Program”. They will award up to $250 to a club doing trail maintenance on a public trail. There are very few requirements and the grant application is (pardon the pun) extremely short and simple to fill out.

Along with awarding grants to clubs, Extreme Terrain has donated to the Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s raffle that we hold every year at our annual Poker Run. Here’s a link to our Poker Run if you haven’t signed up yet:

This summer, I’m hoping to use this grant program for local trails in the Lake Tahoe Basin area. The Hi-Lo’s will go through the process and I’ll report back on how smooth it works out.

If you’d like more information on the “Clean Trail Grant Program” click the link below and go to the Community Support section and click on the “Clean Trails” photo.

It’s free funding for the projects you’re already planning to go out and do. Why not let Extreme Terrain help with the funding?


Rubicon Ronin


Trail ratings from “Overland Journal”

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.



Formed Track

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.



Rugged Track

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.



Formed Trail

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.



Rugged Trail

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.



Challenging Trail

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


Extreme Trail

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.


 No Trail!

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.

Happy Holidays,


Rubicon Ronin