Rubicon Trail and Resource Information
When traveling in the mountains prepare for sudden changes in the weather. Thunder and lightning storms may occur in the Spring and Summer months. The daily temperatures are changeable. Be prepared for snow and ice storms in the Fall and Winter months. Always carry a roadside emergency kit and chains. Fall and winter months bring about changeable weather so please remember to prepare for your trip – waterproof boots, gaiters, map/compass or GPS (and the skills to use them), and dry socks. Do not hike beyond your capabilities. Exercise extreme caution. Your safety is your responsibility. Have fun. Be safe. And as always, please be kind to vegetation while off the trail.
The Rubicon Trail travels through the Eldorado and Tahoe National Forests, and is often under fire restrictions, even if the trail and it's surroundings seem wet. Users must be responsible for knowing whether fire restrictions are in force. Use the links below and watch for fire condition signs that should be posted at every major Forest entry road.
Regardless of fire restrictions, permits are required for any type of open flame. They are free and available at any Forest Service office or from any Forest Service official. Please use fire responsibly. Please use fire responsibly.
Visitors may use wood, charcoal and/or gas fires/stoves outside of developed campgrounds as long as they are in possession of a valid California Campfire Permit and follow the regulations.
Campfires should be avoided during windy weather conditions. Campfires are prohibited year-round in Desolation Wilderness and within areas of the Mokelumne Wilderness above 8,000 feet elevation, the Carson Pass Management Area, and within ¼ of a mile of Salt Springs Reservoir. Campfire permits are available free of charge at all Forest Service, BLM, and CAL FIRE offices. For more information on fire prevention and recreation opportunities, contact any Eldorado National Forest Ranger Station.
OHV Trails Information
Rubicon Trail Restrictions (50 feet Right of Way)
By Court Order (due to a lawsuit filed in 2005 against the USDA Forest Service), all vehicles must remain within 25 feet of center line of the Rubicon Trail -- a non-maintained county road. In other words, the USFS property on both sides of the Rubicon Trail are temporarily closed to vehicles. You must keep your vehicle within the county easement (50 feet total). Signs are up but are not always reliable. FOTR and county Sheriff personnel try to keep the signage current, but you can't count on it. You must know where the trail is.
IMPORTANT: the trail is only physically 8 to 10 feet wide; but the easement is 50 feet. This means there's some room to pull over here and there to let folks by, but it does NOT mean a free-for-all in that 50 feet of easement. Do not drive over vegetation or drive where vehicles have not gone. Stay on the well worn trail.
Fines for off trail travel (resource damage) range from $175 to $275 or more for violations of the 50 foot easement (25 feet of center line).
Note: you can camp or walk anywhere you want; you just can't take your vehicle outside the easement. Also note that Rubicon Soda Springs is private property and they have their own camping rules that you need to know when you use this private land. Contact the caretaker when you camp there.
ALSO, the private property around Spider Lake remains closed to all vehicular access. All Private Property along the Rubicon Trail route needs to be respected. We just need to stay within the trail boundaries at all times. The Private Property owners are adamant that they do not want resource damage on their lands (as is the USFS).
Make sure you have a current map! http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/eldorado/maps/index.shtml
Route Designation has been completed on the Eldorado National Forest and the recognized routes are the only trails you can legally drive. There are large fines for driving off trail; the fine goes up if you have caused resource damage. http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/tahoe/projects_plans/ohv_inv/index.shtml#current_status
The Tahoe National Forest is in the middle of Route Designation. Please contact them directly if you have any questions.
The Lake Tahoe Management Unit has completed an inventory of all legal OHV routes within the basin. They did this some time ago and have posted the route at the following link:
Seasonal Dirt Roads and Trails Closures. Seasonal closures became effective, January 1, 2009, when the Eldorado National Forest began implementation of the new designated route system which includes seasonal closure of dirt roads and trails from January 1 through March 31 each year. Please see the Eldorado Forest website for information at, www.fs.fed.us/r5/eldorado
For information and maps of the OHV trails and roads in the Gold Note and Elkins Flat areas, please see the Eldorado Forest website at, www.fs.fed.us/r5/eldorado On the left hand side, midway down on the introduction screen, click Recreational Opportunity Guides. Double-click to see list. Scroll down and select, Off-Highway Motorized Use.
All Wheeled Motor Vehicles are required to stay on Forest System roads and motorized trails as identified on the Motor Vehicle Use Map, available free-of-charge. Road and trail conditions are dependent upon weather.
A DMV Green or Red sticker license is required for any non-street-legal vehicle to ride on designated OHV trails and roads of the Eldorado National Forest year-round, except for seasonal closures noted above.
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