Basically, winter seems to be hanging around.
There is still a ton of water on and around the trails. Snow drifts will be found in the shade. Mud in other places. Please Tread Lightly!
Here is the pond at the Ellis Peak Trail intersection. This was taken on June 19th, so most of this is probably gone, but it’s a heck of a lot of snow for June!
The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit has a list of closed trails on their website. Those trails include, but are not limited to Noonchester, Buck Lake, Middle Fork, Forest Road 03, Twin Peaks, 16E16, etc. It is the users responsibility to know what trails are open or closed regardless of trail and gate conditions.
Although the Tahoe National Forest has not published a list of closed roads, be aware that most of the TNF trails in the Rubicon area will have deep snow drifts for some time.
There are a lot of snags in the forest right now. John Briggs and I spent five hours on June 19th cutting back downed trees along the Rubicon. And that was only between the staging area and the turn for the Ellis Peak Trail at the pond. Be prepared to remove trees from the trail both on the way in and on the way out. Trees could fall after you’ve past and you’ll need a way to get out.
We were able to pull down this snag by hand and cut it up and throw it off the trail. There is plenty of firewood to be had. Go to the Tahoe National Forest office in Truckee for the permit.
Do not drive around downed trees. The motto of this website is: “Turn Around, Don’t Go Around”. That means don’t drive off trail to get around an obstacle be it snow, a tree or just a tough section of trail. The anti-OHV people will use such incidents against us to get our trails closed.
There is a report of a HUGE boulder on the trail below Morris Rock. It would be great to split it up and harden the trail with a few smaller obstacles. Until that boulder is moved or reduced in size, Cadillac Hill will be very tough to get up.
Another report had Miller Creek flowing at 48″ deep. I find this hard to believe but if it’s anywhere near true, it will be tough to cross. The section west of there will be VERY wet and very deep in places. Check the depth before you charge in to any water holes.
There was a report of four rigs stuck on the trail, two with blown motors. One of those was in that wet section described above. I’m hoping work has been done to start the removal of those rigs. The two snow bound rigs were removed earlier and both driven out under their own power.
I believe that this one had a blown motor. If you look closely, the trail is up on the snow bank. But the snow bank is a little off camber and thus the heightened pucker factor. The rig it technically off trail. Remember, “Turn Around, Don’t Go Around”.
Years ago, I think it was for a very early “Cantina for the ‘Con”, Matt & Shannon made an epic entrance with the ice cream truck music blaring and the truck (and ice cream) to back it up. Since then they have made many fundraisers for the Rubicon and other OHV causes.
Work has begun on the “Ice Cream Truck 2.0”. Although the previous truck was 4wd, it wasn’t really trail worthy. Truck 2.0 will be fully capable of traversing the Rubicon.
Matt & Shannon have always been there for our trails. Matt has sat on the Rubicon Trail Foundation (RTF) Board of Directors. Shannon is the current Friends of the Rubicon (FOTR) Trail Boss. Both have been volunteering for a long time.
Shannon & Matt in the back of the original Ice Cream Truck:
They are building this new truck on their own with help from friends and family. The proceeds from the sale of the ice cream goes to our trail, troops (Wheeling for the Wounded) or wherever they decide to donate. They do not keep the profits.
If you think you can help them out, they have created a “Go Fund Me” account, the link is below:
It’s efforts like this that keep our trails open and make the maintenance events a fun experience.
Thank you Matt & Shannon!
I’m continuing to follow the saga of the stuck rigs on the Rubicon. An effort was made this past weekend to reach them but it fell short due to mechanical failures. But they got to in quite a ways considering conditions.
Yes, that is the staging area and the two twelve foot tall pit toilets!
I’m assuming the photo below is the creek at water bar number eight, the first Arizona crossing on the trail.
That would be a cold, deep crossing on a Quad!
Please remember that this will be a very late OHV season. All trails will be very wet and probably not open on time. One can be cited for damaging the forest even while on an OHV trail. Always Tread Lightly!
Be patient, summer will get here.
FYI – Lake Tahoe has already risen three feet this year! And Spring isn’t here yet!
On my way to the annual Lake Tahoe Hi-Lo’s Christmas Party, I drove by the Rubicon trailhead. It was a little sloppy at the staging area with more than eight inches of slop.
Rain is expected over the next few days, so it’s going to get worse. Imagine this mess freezing up. The temperatures will drop below freezing over night this week but they warm up to the 40’s during the day.
Next weekend the temperatures drop dramatically. We’re talking single digits. Go prepared. And don’t go alone.
The deepest spot was over the bridge, maybe ten inches. With no ground warming, it just doesn’t melt. Be careful crossing the bridge as the ‘sides’ are only eight inches tall. If there is a crown to the snow, you may slide off the side. If you’re concerned about sliding sideways, dig two grooves/ruts to prevent sliding.
If you’re feeling like it’s too sloppy, you’re being a whimp. Theses two vehicle were parked along the trail and should have no problem getting out.
Weather conditions can change quickly. Always be prepared to spend the night in case of a breakdown. Tent, sleeping bags, winter clothing, water, food, change of clothes, warm snow boots, etc. Prepare for the worst case. You don’t want to be that guy.
The ham repeater system is in place year round. (Thank you RTF and Dennis Mayer!) Carry a radio in case of trouble as cell phones do not work out there. Tell several people where you are going and when you will return.
The side trails in the Eldorado and the Basin are closed. The Tahoe side trails close January 1st. I would suggest staying on the Rubicon at this time of year. That is because the side trails are narrow and off-camber and you could windup in the trees in the blink of an eye. Trust me, you’ll have plenty of fun on the main trail.
Please stay on the trail. Over the snow travel is not permitted for wheeled vehicles. Snowmobiles can go over the snow but don’t follow their tracks in your 4×4.
Get out there and do some snow wheeling but Tread Lightly! and be safe.
A funny thing happened on the way to the forum, I mean Hi-Lo’s meeting…
I took a short trip up to the Rubicon staging area just to see what was up. I got there and there wasn’t as much snow as I thought there would be. So I headed up the trail.
It was a beautiful drive. Still a little bumpy at lower elevations but it smoothed out as the snow got deeper.
Miller Meadow was partially frozen over.
Miller Lake hadn’t started to freeze yet.
I turned around at the wide intersection of Ellis Peak and the Rubicon. There were tracks further up the trail but I had a meeting to go to. On the trip out, I could see that my diff was dragging on the snow. I am running 33″ tires on the Colorado.
As always with winter travel, be prepared for anything. Here is one example. Not only is there a snag over the tail that will come in to play with more snow, but there is a tree down on the edge of the trail that will soon be covered with snow. If someone were to drive over it, they would puncture their tire.
My advice, stay in the middle of the trail.
This snag will surely fall over the winter. Always carry a saw in case it falls after you’ve passed and need to remove it to get out.
Remember the side trails within the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit are already closed. That means the Buck Lake Trail, Middle Fork Trail and the Noonchecter Mine Trail. Not all have gates, and not all gates are closed, even if they should be. It is the users responsibility to know where they are and if the trails are open.
The Richardson Lake Trail is open until January 1st, as is Ellis Peak Trail and other in the Tahoe National Forest.
Always be prepared to spend the night: heat source, shelter, sleeping bag, food, water, etc.