Primer on Rubicon & Fordyce Creek Trails (1 Viewer)

woytovich

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So a few of us from "out east" are in the early planning stages of a trip out to "out west" for Rubithon 2018 (or maybe 2019 even) and it has been suggested that we might want to run Fordyce Creek as well. I wanted to get a sense of how those trials work out on a practical level. We are used to wheeling trails that are relatively short in length and returning to a base camp each night... ORV parks etc. We will be at Cruise Moab this year, and those trails (the ones we will be doing) are also day-trip affairs.

I'd like to better understand the "way" that these trails are usually run, what to expect camping-wise, duration etc... what is the "best" way to run these trails if one is not in a hurry. How much fuel should we carry... etc.

And also, are there other places to wheel in the area that we might consider "while we are out there"?

FWIW we are all fairly experienced wheelers not afraid of difficult trails, we are accustomed to technical wheeling in the rocks here in the Northeast US. We don't run buggies but we are pretty well set up.

Thanks,
Mark
 

reddingcruiser

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Fordyce access is dictated by the flows in Fordyce Creek and affected by PG&E water releases from the dam. Considering the current weather trends and snow pack, I would consider it fairly doubtful that a Fordyce run could be run during the same period as the Rubithon. Flows over 200 cfs make the crossings pretty dicey.
 

woytovich

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No plan for a time frame yet... but "since we'll be out there" is a strong motivator to stay for a couple of weeks.
 

Cruiserdrew

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Mark asked me to move this private reply to here:

Fordyce is a great trail. As good or better than Rubicon. But... the very first part of the trail has a water crossing that even in low water years, and late in the summer is DEEP. Like scary, wash you away, deep and fast. Once you get through that you're golden, but doing that in June (low water is August/Sept), is dicey. Realize that many, many Jeeps, Land Cruisers, Land Rovers, and other 4 wheelers have been washed down stream and rolled over. That river is a powerful force, and in high water years is nearly impassable. The last time I did it, I had water flowing through the cab of my spring over FJ40, and that was late August, and not a big water year.

Sierra Trek, which does that every year as part of the event in September, has the flow controlled by the upstream dam for their event.

Plenty of good Sierra trails, but realize this isn't the East Coast.

My favorite Sierra trail is Dusy Ershim. August/September only but what a trail. 3X Rubicon. Not in difficulty but in length. Once you start, it's a mission.
 

reddingcruiser

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As much as I would like convince you to participate in the Rubithon, I appreciate that a trip from the east coast is a major commitment. If you a set on Fordyce, the Sierra Trek would be your best bet, then hit the Rubicon. Or do the Rubithon and other trails as mentioned. Barrett Lake is another option and very close to the Rubicon.
 

Cruiserdrew

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I'd like to better understand the "way" that these trails are usually run, what to expect camping-wise, duration etc... what is the "best" way to run these trails if one is not in a hurry. How much fuel should we carry... etc.

Mark
Rubicon is at minimum a 3 day trail. I have done it in 2 but that's silly and not enjoyable. I like to do it in 7!

The first day is Loon Lake to Buck Island Lake. This carries you over the great granite slabs that make for all the epic looking pictures of the Rubicon. It's a full day of 4 wheeeling. One of my very favorite things to do is to camp a day or 3 at Buck Island and spend the days hiking over the granite slabs and boulders and swimming in the lake.

The second day is to go from Buck Island to Rubicon Springs. The hard part is down "Big Sluice" The springs has epic rock slab camping and swimming along the Rubicon River. It's a shorter day than the first and most of the times you can get to the Springs by early afternoon.

The third day is up Cadillac Hill. The hard section is only 1/2 mile long. But it can take awhile, or you can slide right up. It's not predictable and skill has little to do with it. I think it's fate. Last year I think I was up the hard section in 10 minutes, other years, not so much. Many, many trucks get broken on this section, be aware. From there it's endless bumpy rocks out to Lake Tahoe that seems to take several hours. Then you have to drive all the way around Lake Tahoe and back to Ice House and Loon Lake to retrieve your tow rigs. That's about 2 hours too.

At any point, on any given day, stuff can break. You have to be realistic about that, which is why running on a tight schedule is not smart.

Regarding fuel-A full tank plus 5 gallons is usually enough. I carry two 5 gallon cans extra in case of backtracking or unanticipated extra fuel use.

Without a basecamp, everything you need or want has to be with you for as long as you are there. So food, fuel, warm clothes, camp gear and spare parts all have to be figured into the mix. The water in the Rubicon river is clean enough to drink after purification so you don't need 30 gallons of water. I usually bring 7-10 and make at least 5 more.

I hope that helps regarding the logistics, other trails are similar.

One other thing-I went to Sierra Trek one year, and it was pretty fun, but it is 99% Jeeps and very old school.
 
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woytovich

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Andrew,
Thanks... this is great info.
Regarding the "days off"... are there options to do any wheeling on those days? Are there side trails or optional areas to play on?
Is this strictly a one way trail? Does it ever get run backwards? Could one wheel in and then back out?

You said you would like to do it in 7, what would you do to make it last that long (I like the idea of a longer adventure, but not if it just means hiking more and wheeling less each day)
 

Cruiserdrew

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The days off are days off. No wheeling. In fact, I make it a point not to run my truck, hence the reliance on solar power. And that's a great addition for this trip.

We are likely not as hungry for wheeling as you guys are, and so camping in the backcountry, fixing trucks, reading books, telling lies, shooting, fishing and hikes, fill up the down days without burning our extra fuel. Which BTW you will use a lot more fuel than you think. 1-3 mpg at best.

Many years, we ran it backwards from Tahoe, and then forwards from Loon in the same week. You'll get your fill that way, but uphill on Big Sluice is no joke if you are not familiar with it. I'll likely do that 2018 since it's been 3 or 4 rears since I did it in both directions in the same week. I might have to dust off my FJ40 for that!

You can also go wheeling at any time-you're on the trail so pick a direction and go. It's a completely different trail backwards and forwards. To me it's an area to not rush through. Your needs may be different though. There are no legal "side" trails. Though up on the slabs there is the opportunity to also do "Old Sluice" which is an exciting axle breaker ride. I've hiked it maybe 10 times, drove down it one time, and yep, that time, broke an axle. The rock I broke on is still there but moved, so it might be easier now. So an option during a Buck Island layover, would be to backtrack to the top of the slabs, then turn down into Old Sluice to bring you back to Buck Island. Hike it first so you know what you're in for.

Realistically plan on 4 days, with a layover in Rubicon Springs. If you come for Rubithon, the wagon run starts on Wednesday and exits Sunday, so that's 5 days. THis year we are going in Sunday and rolling out the following Sunday. I'll bet we'll find stuff to do.
 

Onur

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GCLC should DEFINITELY do Rubithon. Don't miss it if you are out that way. I'd skip Fordyce to do Rubithon. I would not skip a Dusy trip but you guys will be there too early in the season for Dusy-Ershim.
 

pardion

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Seeing as I have lived on the Rubicon Trail for the last 8 summers I'd better chime in. I'm a lousy typist and am not long winded at a key board. So check out these local websites and their links in your planning. This trail is a senic and historic trail and as Drew stated, The chalange is to drive the trail to whatever camp and stay put, relax, fish, hike, swim, read, repair rigs, meet others from all over the world. Trail is not intended to be a race coarse or rock climbing play ground. Rubithon is good to meet other Toyota folks. Glad you are planning a trip. John Pardi

Rubicon Trail Foundation
El Dorado County Trails and Parks
Friends of The Rubicon
Rubicon Pirates, (has the activity calendar)
Jeepers Jamboree, and yes Toyota's are welcome
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Use this link to track daily flow rates. Currently at 160cfs. At these levels it's a nice adrenaline rush. 250-350 is scary. Anything over that and there's a pretty good chance you're going to die. A few days ago flows were over 3000cfs with all the rain and flooding we had.

This is my buddy crossing Fordyce Creek at 315cfs.

 

woytovich

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Good to hear... I'm usually at 10-11 in my FJ60 with Q78x16 TSLs.

Boy looking at the video you sent, and others, at Moab especially but at Rubicon too, it looks like folks are running way to high... I see people bouncing around in stuff they should be rolling right over.
 

reddingcruiser

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10 on my 14x18x38's 11 on my 12x17x37's Hardley ever use the lockers. No bead locks needed.
Yeah, after 500 trips over the Rubicon you should know every line on the trail. I'm surprised you even put it in 4 low. :)
Probably walked to school in the snow, uphill both ways.
Ok, I'm a little envious.
 

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