Gallery: Directly Connected Tackles The Rubicon Trail


Trails like the Rubicon are the reason bucket lists exist. The Rubicon trail has been around in one form or another since long before the Jeep was thought of. In the beginning, trappers and loggers had claim to the beautiful wilderness surrounding the trail. Now this region of the Sierra Nevada mountains has seen travelers for nearly 200 years, but not much has changed. Cabins have been erected in a few remote locations, outhouses are found along the now well defined trail, but the same wild nature surrounds the trail as it always has.

The Rubicon is still a formidable trail that has earned a reputation among off-road enthusiasts of all kinds. There is a reason that Jeep named its best equipped vehicle the Rubicon. The trail has plenty of obstacles to keep extremely modified vehicles entertained, but thanks to countless bypasses, fun can be had for the much less equipped 4×4 on the trail as well. Over the Rubicon’s 22 miles, it combines challenging rock sections similar to those of Johnson Valley, rock ledges similar to Moab, breathtaking scenery like Yosemite, and the remoteness of the Death Valley.


After airing down the trail dropped us down into a reasonably technical, rock lined, section that weaves through the trees.

Above left: Much of the landscape that surrounds the trail is made up of huge slabs of granite rock. Airing down tires on the rocks as apposed to in the dirt made for a clean operation. Above right: While full size vehicles do regularly traverse the rout, having a small jeep is useful for navigating tight sections between massive boulders.

Above left: The trail quickly combines larger boulders with smaller loose rocks. Locking differentials make quick work of the loose sections. Above center: Chris’ Hummer became friendly with the trees early on in the trail due to camber obstacles. Above right: Large amounts of flex are clearly achievable from the solid axle swapped rig. Taking a page out of the Jeep handbook one could say.


Oh, the places a 4×4 can go.

We headed to the trail in our Jeep TJ, sporting an extremely recent AW4 transmission swap, accompanied by Nick Paul in his very well-equipped Jeep JK Unlimited, and Chris Paul in a wildly modified Hummer H3. While the Rubicon is a well traveled trail it is never a good idea to do it alone in case of breakage or various other potential calamities.

The trail can be done in one day by highly modified off-road vehicles, but in order to enjoy the trail we decided to do it in two. We were lucky to face only minor issue on the trail consisting of a broken rim, some loose brake lines, and a leaking transfer case. We ran the trail without a guide, but because the trail is so well marked we had no trouble navigating through the tremendous landscape.

Above left: The trail periodically wound onto different sections of the granite mountainside displaying incredible views. Above right: While not a Mopar, we always love seeing classic vehicles on the trail like this FJ60 Toyota Land Cruiser.

Above left: Before dropping back into the trees the trail look us though some sections where suspension articulation was a must. Above center & right: Shown here is Nick navigating a slick, wet, rock ledge in his Jeep JK.

Above left: Capturing the scale of the obstacles with a camera is tricky business. But this shot was taken with the camera at eye level. So imagine the bumper of your truck just above your forehead and that will give an idea of the size of some of the boulders navigated on the trail. Above center: It is not unreasonable to be a little intimidated when you look out of your vehicle and see a rock trail heading up the side of the mountain like this one. That being said, if an obstacle doesn’t scare you just a little on the first attempt then where would the fun be. Above right: The entrance to the world famous Rubicon Springs.


Because the trail is so famous it is not uncommon to see other vehicles on the way. But a Solid axle swapped Ford Ranger like this one is rare no matter where you are.

After this year’s trip to the Rubicon trail, there is no denying that it is a trip everyone with a 4×4 should make. The trail was challenging enough to be fun, well marked enough to be safe and easy to navigate, and the landscape is something we will never forget.

Above left: Chris and Nick navigating up the hill. Above right: Photo opportunities were plentiful on the clear sunny day.


Here is a look at the famous “Soup Bowl” obstacle on the trail. Unsurprisingly our stock wheelbase TJ on 35” tires was not up to the task. But we will be coming back for that obstacle next year.

Above left: Here I am as a reference to the size of “Soup Bowl.” Above center: Here is our group exiting the top of the once famous “Little Sluice” obstacle. While this is still a slightly difficult section of the trail it does not compare in any way to the nearly impassable obstacles that used to exist here. Just a few years ago government workers used dynamite to blast the boulders that made “Little Sluice” a notable obstacle and turned it into a rock paved path. Government destruction of trail obstacles is truly a horrifying reality. Above right: Finding a suitable place to relax and eat lunch is easy to do with rock faces and staggering views all along the trail.

Above left: Here is a perfect example of why bead lock wheels are in the plans for our TJ. Here the protruding rock had no trouble pushing the tire off of the bead and causing some issues. Luckily the sidewall on the BFG tire was able to handle the abuse and not fail. Above right: We firmly believe if you buy a winch you should use it now and again. So it was fun to get a little too stuck in a crevice. Our Master Pull winch rope made this recovery a safe operation.

Above left: Depending on the time of year the Rubicon offers several minor water crossings. Above center: The view from our camp was breathtaking. Above right: The Rubicon traverses along a few mountain lakes. With such limited access to the lakes we head Buck Island Lake all to our selves for a swim and lunch.


This FZJ80 Land Cruiser rolled near our camp the next morning, reminding us just how important proper driving technique and safety equipment is. Luckily nobody was hurt and the vehicle finished the rest of the trail without issue.

Above left: It is clear in this picture that our Savvy Off Road aluminum gas tank skid plate got a workout during the trip! But it held up awesome and slid the Jeep off of rocks without a hick up. Above center: Here is the start of the final obstacle; the steep and technical “Cadillac Hill.” This one demanded our full attention as going off the trail would send you for a several hundred feet fall to the bottom of the canyon. Above right: We stopped here at “Lookout Point” to reflect on the trip before we headed out of the trail.

img_0258 img_0348 img_0346 img_0345 img_0344 img_0343 img_0342 img_0340 img_0338 img_0337 img_0336 img_0335 img_0334 img_0332 img_0331 img_0330 img_0329 img_0328 img_0327 img_0326 img_0325 img_0323 img_0322 img_0321 img_0320 img_0319 img_0318 img_0317 img_0316 img_0315 img_0314 img_0313 img_0312 img_0310 img_0309 img_0308 img_0306 img_0305 img_0303 img_0302 img_0301 img_0300 img_0299 img_0298 img_0296 img_0295 img_0293 img_0292 img_0291 img_0289 img_0288 img_0287 img_0286 img_0285 img_0283 img_0279 img_0277 img_0276 img_0275 img_0273 img_0272 img_0271 img_0270 img_0267 (1) img_0266 img_0263 img_0261 img_0260 img_0255 img_0254 img_0251 img_0250 img_0249 img_0247 img_0246 img_0245 img_0244 img_0240 img_0237 img_0236 img_0235 img_0234 img_0232 img_0231 img_0230 img_0228 img_0226 img_0224 img_0222 img_0221 img_0220 img_0225 img_0223 img_0227 img_0229 img_0233 img_0238 img_0242 img_0239 img_0243 img_0252 img_0253 img_0256 img_0262 img_0268 img_0274 img_0269 img_0278 img_0280 img_0281 img_0282 img_0284 img_0290 img_0294 img_0297 img_0304 img_0307 img_0324 img_0311 img_0333 img_0341 img_0347 img_0339

Share this post

Kyle Cunliffe

Off-Road/Truck Editor Growing up in Southern California many would expect Kyle to spend his days looking for the next gnarly wave to catch. Luckily waves don't have a throttle or steering wheel so his attention was devoted elsewhere. Kyle can nearly always be found looking for a way to go faster, or get over an obstacle just a little bigger than the last. Because he wasn't a trust fund baby he has spend years working on his own vehicles to keep the excitement going.

Your Cart is empty!

It looks like you haven't added any items to your cart yet.

Browse Products
Powered Voltage Emoji by Caddy