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Rubicon Trail day trip Early Oct?


NAXJA Member
NAXJA Member
Hello all, Im am looking for some thoughts/input from the Sierra folks that have run the Rubicon on the feasibility of a day trip in early October.

I will be attanding the 40th in Moab and dont want to drive from Pennsylvania without trying to get as much out of the trip as possible. We have a 6500 mile bucket list trip planned thats mostly educational, family road trip stuff that im gonna get some wheeling into also.

My XJ is a 1996 2 door, 6.2LS/6L80/4.3Atlas, 35in MT/R's, Hutchinson beadlocks, 4 Link Full Float Rock Assault 9 rear, 3 Link HP44HD front w/D50 gearset, ORI Struts, PSC hydro assist, fully skided/stiffened, 2x6 rockers, armored and hybrid caged.

I have heard mixed opinions on the Rubicon taking three days to take in all the sights and also saw 5 hour trail times? Im sure the five hour quote is for ultra4 type wheeling, thats not what im looking for. Im driving my XJ the entire way with a 6x8 off road camper in tow with my wife and 11 year old son. I plan on leaving the trailer at a campground during these intended day trips.

I have seen mention of the trail being broke up into two parts, does that mean two day trips to see all of it? Is there road access in the middle?

Any insight or opinions are welcome.
There is no access in the middle. The cool thing to do is drive in to Buck Island Lake on Friday, chill at the lake on Saturday, and cruise out on Sunday.

I’ve only gotten up there once in the buggy, on 37s, but it was less than 4 hours between Loon Lake Chalet and Buck.

There is a reservable campground at Loon Lake, first come campsites at like Airport Flat, and no camping at the Tahoe trailhead.

Especially if you are camping at Loon Lake, Loon to Little Sluice back to Loon should be a very reasonable day trip. Loon to Buck and back would a pretty good day.

I am going up at the end of June and will very probably be staying at Loon and day tripping in. But I won’t try to get to Rubicon Springs or Observation point.
October could be snow, or it could be finally melted after the year we have had.

There are two entry points. The beginning and the end. You’ll be dragging the trailer through the trail, or you’re going to camp at one end, do and out-and-back trip, the drive to the other end and do the same. The green bridge is closer to the Tahoe side than the Loon Lake side. The big overlook is there as well.

The trail has a few bathrooms that are an actual solid building with a non-flushing toilet inside. They’re maintained so it isn’t typical shitty truck stop toilets.
So im on the board of directors of
The rubicon trail foundation. Be prepared for potentially severe snow on the trail in october, have enough food and water to last an extra couplemdays if you get stuck in a snow storm. Bring your best winter sleeping bags as it can get
The 20s at night even if it doesnt snow .

Next plan for 3 days / 2nights to enjoy it somewhat, ideally 3 nights and 4 days if its a bucket list item for you, i dont see a point in rushing through in one long day yojr first
Time. Enjoy it . Its beautiful. Dont drive off
Trail, pack it in pack it out, and no white flowers.

Make sure you have comms , like HAM radio and/or sat phone if youre going solo in october, but dont go solo, bring some rigs with you, make sure someone knows of your plan, so if you dont show up somewhere somone knows,

Youll want to go from loon to tahoe to experience the trail, no middle access roads thats a funny one though. If you want to run the rubicon, you got to run it from loon to tahoma.

Have severe cold weather gear and also gear
For severe heat in october. I had planned a big workday in october out there last year and it was insanely hot that weekend. The next weeked it was
Freezing cold and snowing.

Be prepared for rattlesnales, heat stroke, Bears taking your
Food, and also now the first wolves have been spotted in georgetown - supposedly - so now there are wolves out there - supposedly - from a buddy that has a friend
Who has taken pictures
Of them that they believe migrated from either colorado or montana? Not
Sure where. But it was documented this year vis pictures and verified with a ranger apparently. The wolf thing is all new info to me, so take that with a grain of salt it could be bullshit.

Rubicon has bathrooms along the trail. Which is awesome. Those bathrooms are part of why the trail is still open today.

Bring tools and parts that you commonly break.

Im going to stress comms again for october . What comms do you run normally?

Are you towing ?

Also rubicon is 40% private property , RTF property is open to the public and we have a naxja day use area out there, but other privately owned properties are not
Open to the public so stay on trail, do not go off trail.
The only reason I questioned an access road in the middle of the trail is that I have seen alot of mention of two parts to the trail, but people must be describing half way is a good place to camp overnite.

If there is any chance of snow, I wont even attemt a run. We were originally planning on attanding The Jeepers Jamboree in August untill the 40th was announced. Im sure the weather would be nicer then. Thats when my wife was mildly OK with camping on the trail for a couple of nites. If it gets in the 20's, not a chance.

Im not trailering my XJ, I put alot of effort in making it street legal in my home state so I can drive it as much as possible. I carry alot of spare parts/tools, have onboard air and a mig welder.

I have a CB mounted in the XJ and a pair of Motorola FRS/GMRS handhelds onboard. We will also have satellite communications with us on the trip as well. We have heard the stories of cell reception at one single tree on the trail.
Just because you’re street legal in your state doesn’t mean you’re street legal in nevada or California.
you sound pretty prepared.

October is always iffy.

Last year we had a work weekend out there and weather was hot , like really hot. The next weekend it snowed like crazy. You want to be prepared for anything in October.