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Discussion Starter #1
My wife and I are throwing around the idea of heading down to California in May to visit her cousin who lives in Sacramento, and while we're down there I thought, let's check out this famous Rubicon trail. I've been watching some youtube videos and reading some articles and trip reports online, and it's somewhat unclear as to exactly HOW hard the trail really is. Some say it's hardcore, some say it's doable in a Subaru as long as you don't care about body damage. Some say it's as hard as you want it to be because nearly every major obstacle has an optional bypass. I have a 2004 Taco XtraCab with the e-locker in the back, OME 2.5" lift, 33" tires, rock sliders, and aftermarket bumpers. I've been four wheeling in British Columbia for about 10 years, so I wouldn't consider my experience level "noobish". I'm not opposed to body damage IF it happens but I'm not trying to wreck my truck either. It is already dented, scratched, and spraypainted, but I'm more worried about blowing a CV or something like that on the trail and not being able to make it home on time....but if people are doing it in Jeeps I should have nothing to worry about right? :D

Here's a photo of the truck in question, for those of you who have no idea what a Taco on 33's looks like:D


Also wondering if the trail is passable that early in the year. In Canada not much is snow-free in May, but California's quite a bit further south so I'm not sure what it would be like. What's a rough average temperature that time of year?

And one last question: how many days should I count on for doing the trail?

Thanks
 

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The trail will probably be free of snow at that time, but if we get a late season storm, all bets are off. May is usually clear up there, but the trail is still very wet that early in the season. So that means slick conditions. Temps would be in the 60-80deg F range usually.

Your truck meets the basic minimum requirements, but expect rear quarter panel scrapes or dents. Also, if you don't have a front locker, I would definitely not attempt it alone. I can do it in my Tacoma with 33's, but its a real chore. Front and rear lockers really help. The conditions are always changing and recently it has been easier than in years past. I've made 3 trips to the Rubicon in my truck and never broke anything, but do have a few scrapes and scars. We have had others in our groups break multiple times. It all depends on your vehicle, how you drive and the trail conditions.

I'm sure others will share some additional insight. Good luck with your trip. If you need any planning help, just ask.
 

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Here's the current snow pack at Mammoth Mountain ski area, central/Eastern Sierras. Note that the top of the hill (11,000+') has 200" of snow right now. What I'm saying is that a May trip might be iffy, snow-wise. We mountain biked and snow boarded at Mammoth over the Fourth of July weekend a few years ago. It can happen.


Base Depth

108"

Main Lodge 8,900'

Base Depth

175"

McCoy Station 9,600'

Base Depth

201"

The Summit 11,053'
 

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There will most likely be snow on the Tahoe side. Either way there will be lots of water.

What Tyler said is all true. You could navigate it, but I would not attempt it alone or without another capable rig.

Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the feedback guys. Is there a local club or some local members that I could get in contact with closer to the date so I can check on conditions and possibly tag along on a group run? I definitely wouldn't be game for tackling it solo; it's never a good idea at home, even worse of an idea 2500 miles abroad. And I keep this in mind with regard to my driving style- I'm pretty conservative on the skinny pedal cause I know too much excitement there just leads to more time wrenching and less time enjoying the outdoors.
 

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You can keep the post up here, May is still a ways away so some people may join in. I had a 3rd gen 4runner and ran it several times. I had full belly skids (bud built) sliders, front rear bumpers. 33s get small pretty fast out there and my skids got a workout. Last time I got pretty stuck on big sluice and needed my winch to get me out. Like stated above the trail conditions change constantly because rocks move and ruts get created.

You should pack spare tie rod ends and a spare CV at a minimum. I always carried spare UBJ and LBJs too but never needed them, only broke an outer tie rod end once.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'm starting to have second thoughts about tackling the Rubicon. Sounds like it might be a little more difficult than what I'd be comfortable with. So I looked into some alternatives. Two that caught my eye were the Usal Road on the Lost Coast, or Laurel Lakes near Mammoth Lakes. I read on the description of Laurel Lakes that it climbs way up into the mountains, like 10,000 feet, and I'm guessing that in mid-late May there will still be lots of snow up there. Anyone care to confirm my suspicion? If that's out of the question, I would assume that the Lost Coast would be ok because it's much lower elevation and also right on the coast. Is the weather typically enjoyable at that time of year on the coast, or would it be pissin' rain the whole time? My preference would be to take the high-mountain road to Laurel Lakes if it's possible, since we will most likely be driving the Oregon coast highway which I'd imagine is somewhat similar to this Lost Coast, minus all the people.

Also, if anyone would have a better suggestion of where to go, please don't hesitate to pipe up. I've never been to California and have no idea what the lay of the land is other than what is obvious from reading a map. Cheers.
 

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I'm from the "Lost Coast." In May the weather shouldn't be too bad. I doubt it will be pissing rain the whole time, but it could be a little wet. I've never been on the Usal Road, but I'm not sure you'd even need 4wd. If you were looking for something that resembled the Rubicon, you will be extremely disappointed.

I suggest looking through some of the threads here on the Nor Cal page of past runs. Many have pictures so you can see what the terrain looks like and pick one that looks like what you're looking for.
 
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