The World Famous Rubicon Trail is located in the California High Sierra with Eastern end of the Trail located in Tahoma, California at beautiful Lake Tahoe in Placer County. This world-renowned 4-wheel drive route leads from Lake Tahoe to Georgetown, a total distance of approximately 22 miles. The Trail is a non-maintained County road located in Placer and El Dorado Counties. 

Reach the Trailhead

To reach the eastern trailhead, follow highway 89 south from Tahoe City for about nine miles. There will be a sign for McKinney-Rubicon Trail (also known as the Rubicon Trail). Turn in to the residential area and follow the signs. You’ll weave through the residential area for about a half mile before coming to the “entrance” to the McKinney-Rubicon Trail. There are signs at the entrance with various rules and recommendations for the trail.


Originally a Native American trail connecting the Sacramento Valley and Lake Tahoe, the Rubicon Trail was re-discovered by European immigrants in the 1840s. By the 1890s, the trail had become an actual road (by the standards of the day) and was used to reach the Rubicon Mineral Springs Resort and Hotel. The first car into Rubicon Springs arrived in 1908, driven by a woman from Lake Tahoe. This historic drive received quite a bit of publicity from the San Francisco newspapers. 

Throughout the 1920s, the Rubicon Springs road was being promoted as the best route from Georgetown to Lake Tahoe. To encourage travel along the route, a promotional automobile trip was organized, compete with photographs in the local papers. The write-up included mention of a survey party that would make plans for improving the road. However, when the Rubicon Springs Hotel closed in the late 1920s, the road fell into disuse. 

The route has been used by 4-wheel drive vehicles since the early 1950s and has become one of the most famed, 4-wheel drive trails in the world.