Tree, Poison Flat, Carson Iceberg Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney: Your Backpacking Guide to the High Sierras Yellow Flower
Rubicon Lake through dense forest and rock.
I need a break at Rubicon Lake

 

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The Tahoe to Yosemite Trail

Hiking to Rubicon Lake

Backpacking out of the Meeks Bay Trailhead on The Tahoe to Yosemite Trail

 

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Trail Guide

Section
INDEX

North
TYT

Stony
Ridge
Lake

South
TYT

Phipps
Pass

Topo
Backpacking
Map

Meeks Bay
to
Dicks Pass


Lake
Tahoe
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INDEX

miles
&
elevations
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Video
Hiking to Rubicon Lake

  Arriving at Rubicon Lake.  
   
Duration 1:13.

Up to Rubicon Lake
Climbing above the Southwestern Shore of Stony Ridge Lake we find ourselves switch backing South up nicely graded trail through dense forest.
We note the granite boulders and features pushing out of the forest floor are expanding. Granite emerging through the forest floor is turning vertical, and joining together into sheer canyon walls squeezing out the forest as the walls around us climb to their mountain-tops.

A couple of wide switchbacks finally brings us high enough up to where the trail turns into a granite lined cut, still upholstered with dense forest, bringing us into a channel scooped out from the top of this rock and forest mountainside.
Here the granite is not as densely shrouded by forest, but great granite faces and cliffs which were almost invisible under the dense lower forests are now fully exposing themselves as we approach the top of the mountain. Here granite becomes visible emerging through the thinning forests surrounding it, while projecting now above the top of the surrounding sea of trees.

We are getting high enough the naked power of the granite is rising above the limits of its thinning terrestrial forest cover. Granite rising from under dense forest is now becoming Sky Granite.

Entering the nifty cut scooped out of the top and flank of the granite and forest mountainside terrain of the mountaintop we turn again. Pushing into the cut the trail soon turns us North over to Rubicon Lake sitting on its tiny flat shelf. I see Rubicon Lake as a tiny island of liquid peace wedged in the profound complexity of this sweet mountainside terrain.

The constricted expanse of the surface of Rubicon Lake itself creates the opening in the surrounding forest and boulder field bringing a shifting circle of light across the lake every day.

Meeks Bay to Dicks Pass
15 minute Backpacking Map

Rubicon Lake's tiny size and unique location nestled on its tiny flat in between rock and forest high up high under Phipps Peak gives me a feeling of security. It is cozy in here at Rubicon Lake.

That changes a few short feet South of Rubicon, where we begin to get expansive long views to the East-Southeast from atop precipitious cliffs.

Just feet South of Rubicon Lake we find the unmarked trail dropping Southeast down to Grouse Lakes, which is followed by a tough scrambling route down to the Eagle Falls Trailhead on Highway 89.

This is the first trail breaking off the TYT since the General Trail at Genevieve Lake.

Desolation Wilderness Backpacker

Meeks Bay
to
Rubicon Lake

Just the Hard Facts
Meeks Bay to Dicks Pass
15 minute Backpacking Map
Desolation Wilderness
30 minute Backpacking Map

Meeks Bay to Echo Summit
Backpacking Miles and Elevations

Hiking to Rubicon Lake

Elevation
8320 feet

7.75 miles South of the Meeks Bay trail head.

2081 feet above the Meeks Bay trail head.

1.13 miles and 480 feet of elevation South
to Phipps Pass' 8800 feet of elevation.

 

3.75 miles South to TYT-PCT-TRT junction
North of Middle Velma Lake.

Miles
and
Elevations

comments?

 

I need a break at Rubicon Lake
I need a break at Rubicon Lake.
OUCH!

Snack & Rest break
at
Rubicon Lake

Rubicon Lake on the Desolation Trail Alex having a snack-lunch at Rubicon Lake
Above:
Rubicon Lake, Desolation Wilderness
Above:
Tired during the second day
Leaving Rubicon Lake for Phipps Pass View of Rubicon Lake backpacking past towards Phipps Pass
View of Rubicon Lake Splitting Rock and Tree. The views get better as we get higher passing the lake.

Man, I was feeling it the last time I got to Rubicon Lake.

It was the second day of an unresupplied Tahoe to Yosemite backpacking trip, and carrying the monster weight of the heavy pack necessary to do this was kicking the bloody hell out of me.

The good thing was that I expected it to do that, so I was not surprised or disappointed, just hurting.

The pain would go away as pack weight diminished over the days and weeks of the trip, but the memory of the experience stays fresh.

The sharpness and depth of a memory is partially dependent on the physical and emotional intensity of the experience. The mind and perspective of the observer comes into play next, but the real determiner of the nature of "experience," and how we form, store, and incorporate experience into memory and draw upon them for action are functions of the intensity of their creation.

Mind and Memory were formed in the framework of, and for dealing with the Natural World that our contemporary backpacking experiences are bringing us back into, to various degrees. This explains my propensity for long distance High Sierra Backpacking. I seek full engagement for long periods of time. Full Reset.
Backpacking sharpens experience, mind, and memory by putting them all back into their natural context, back to the environment where they came from, bringing them back to where they were created.

We are, at the beginning and end, the conscious reflections of our environment.

And a whole bunch of bullshit in-between.

Our mental "tools," being mind, memory, and experience reflect that fact, for bad and good. Too much social experience without natural context is bad for us. Engaging our minds and bodies within the frameworks of Nature is very good for us.

Our most fundamental mental "tools" operate best in their natural context, once we get over the physical and mental pains that "readjustment" to meeting Nature's requirements and using our own capacities puts on us.

Achieving this natural context quite ironically beats the hell out of us at the same time it nourishes us and strengthens us.

Nature is a series of Perfect Contradictions from Beginning to End.

It is up to us to balance them, as the conscious reflections of our environment. Thus I stress preparation and training.

Above, we can see that my pain-pleasure balance was a bit out of whack.

Stress happens.

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Grouse Lake trail junction
just South of Rubicon Lake

Grouse Lake Junction with the Desolation Trail above Rubicon Lake

Unmarked
Grouse Lake Junction

The trail to Grouse Lake is blocked by big rocks to keep hikers on the TYT, so they do not accidentally wander off the main trail.

You would be amazed at how many people just wander off the trails.

Keep your eyes open and pay attention.

Out to Eagle Falls
1.87 miles to Eagle Falls

This trail down to Grouse Lake was the old trail around Phipps Peak to the Pacific Crest Trail. Carefully observing the terrain we can see that this route also heads down the canyon through steep terrain towards Eagle Creek past Grouse Lake.

30 min map with Old Trail Route

30 min map with Old & New Trail Routes

Any route below Grouse Lakes to Eagle Falls would be a radical scrambling route.

There is no trail from Rubicon Lake to Grouse Lake to Eagle Falls on Highway 89 marked on any of the maps. The 1992 Rockbound Valley USGS Map shows a trail down to Grouse Lakes from above Rubicon Lake, then back up to the TYT a few steps to the North of Phipps Pass. There is no trail shown below Grouse Lakes.

Meeks Bay to Dicks Pass
15 minute Backpacking Map

The map contours indicates and our eyes have shown us some very steep and bushy terrain between the end of the level of the hanging canyon holding the Grouse Lakes and Eagle Creek below.

I've never hiked this radical scrambling route down to Eagle Falls and its Trailhead, but I estimate it is 1.87 miles to Eagle Falls from this unmarked trail junction just a bit South of Rubicon Lake. But I may underestimate the distance. It is likely up to 2.25 miles in length.

The reason for this variability is that the route will be defined by terrain and bush growth, which requires more or less deflections of our route, depending on growth and erosion.

Approaching Phipps Pass hiking South on the TYT we can spot this trail dropping from Grouse Lake down towards Eagle Falls as our perspective of the terrain shifts while hiking South and climbing higher up near Phipps Pass.

Check out the 30 minute map for an estimate of the route from observations.

I've never hiked this section of scrambling route down to Eagle Falls via Grouse Lakes, but I would anticipate a challenging steep section getting down to Eagle Creek.

We have a note from a local hiker at Phipps Pass.

If you have information about this route post it up on the

Rubicon Lake Trail Forum.

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Video
Beautiful Rock just above Rubicon Lake

  A nifty piece of rock.  
   
Beautiful Desolation Wilderness Rock.

North TYT: South Stony Ridge Lake                                                                          South TYT: Phipps Pass

Desolation Wilderness
Hiking to Rubicon Lake

A short break at Rubicon Lake refreshes the backpacker who is feeling the effects of altitude, climbing, and a very heavy backpack. That would be me.

The look on my face reflects the experience of carrying a 75lb backpack up a Sierra Trail.

Knee and shoulder issues required I take a considered approach to hiking. Pace, footing, balance, and posture must be perfectly matched to metabolism to achieve the most efficient and shock-free motion across the terrain.

And it still pushes us hard.

I will be physically and psychologically juggling the food vs weight vs mileage vs pain calculation for the next few days until my strength rises to the task, and the weight of my pack diminishes to a more manageable weight, and I adjust to the parameters of life on the trail.

Nice campsites ring Rubicon Lake.

comments-questions-insights-information?

Topo Hiking
Map

Meeks Bay Trailhead
to
Dicks Pass
Topo Hiking
Map

Lake Genevieve
to
Phipps Pass

Miles
and
Elevations

South
Phipps Pass

Backpacking North

Trail Guide

Stony Ridge Lake

Which way is North?

Backpacking South

Trail Guide

Phipps Pass

Backpacker Forums

General thoughts on, or backpacking issues:

Post it on
TahoetoWhitney.Org
The Backpacker's Forum.

High Sierra Backpacking
Trails
High Sierra Backpacking
Topics
Add your experiences, comments, or pictures
getting to, at or around Rubicon Lake:
Section
Tahoe to Echo Summit
Segment
Rubicon Lake

North TYT: South Stony Ridge                                                                                       South TYT: Phipps Pass

Trailhead

Contact
Alex Wierbinski

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Backpacking Lake Tahoe to Mount Whitney

Your guide to the High Sierra Crest, including the Tahoe to Yosemite, Pacific Crest, and John Muir Trails

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