West of Tahoe in the Eldorado National Forest, the popular Rubicon OHV Trail is known as one of the best OHV routes around the world. The trail system is maintained by the El Dorado County Parks Department.
The Rubicon Trail is located in the California High Sierra, due west of Lake Tahoe, approximately 80 miles east of Sacramento, and 35 miles east of Placerville. This world-renowned 4-wheel drive route leads from Georgetown (at California Highway 49) to Lake Tahoe (near Tahoma), a total distance of approximately 22 miles. The trail is a non-maintained County road located in El Dorado and Placer Counties. Parts of the trail pass through the Eldorado National Forest and portions of private lands.
Elevations run from approximately 5400 to over 7,000 feet (approximately 1,646 meters to over 2,134 meters). The section of road from Georgetown to Wentworth Springs (also known as the McKinney-Rubicon Springs Road) is a maintained road, while the off-highway vehicle (OHV) trail begins near Loon Lake. Most visitors begin the run from this mid-point, which is accessible off U.S. Highway 50. The portion of the trail from Loon Lake to Lake Tahoe is about 12 miles (19 kilometers) long and winds through the trees and rugged granite common to the area.
One of the unique features of the Rubicon Trail is the wide range of elevations over the project area. The canyon wall vertical drop is as much as 1,000 feet in some places and as steep as 100 percent, rendering some river canyons nearly inaccessible. The highest elevation point within the project area is near Spider Lake, which lies at an elevation of approximately 6,700 feet, while the lowest elevation is along Wentworth Springs Road (5,420 feet).
To reach the Loon Lake Trailhead from Placerville, head east on SR50 for 20 miles to the Ice House Road / Crystal Basin Exit. Continue on Icehouse Road for 28 miles to Loon Lake Road. Turn right on Look Lake Road for 4 miles. Just past the second Loon Lake dam (spillway), look for the trailhead parking.
Note: As of September 2007, ATV riding is permited on designated Forest Service roads only and the ATV must have a valid California Green ATV sticker. For a map of designated open roads, contact the Eldorado National Forest HQ at (530) 622-5061.