Rubicon Peak
Rubicon Peak Trail

Place Name: El Dorado County

Place Description: State: California
Date: 08/18/2019
Elevation: 9,183 Feet
Prominence: 263 Feet
Miles: 4.6
Elevation Gain: 2,287 Feet
Lists: Tahoe-Ogul

  • Difficulty
  • Solitude
  • Kid Friendly
  • Summit Views

The Trail Less Traveled In Lake Tahoe

There is no shortage of people in Lake Tahoe these days. In typical California fashion, the area is just too crowded now. Rubicon Peak offers a little more solitude along the west shore further north of the popular Emerald Bay and Vikingsholm areas. Be warned, this hike is steep!



  • Amazing view of Tahoe
  • Fun scrambling at top
  • Less people than other Tahoe trails


  • Very steep, lots of elevation gain in last mile
  • Heavy exposure on summit block when you get to top
  • Parking area is small

Rubicon has been on my agenda since last summer and I finally had a chance to do so. The short mileage was very intriguing to make this an afternoon hike. After tackling Maggie’s Peak in the a.m., we made the short drive up to Rubicon.


Rubicon is located further up the west shore about 20 minutes south of Tahoe City. To get to the trail head, you will first need to navigate a maze of steep residential streets before topping out at the of Highland Dr. There is enough room for about 6-8 cars at the end of the road. From here you will start up a dirt road that will peter out into a single track not far down.

100 yards up the trail you get your first view of the peak and at this distance it is very demoralizing. It looks so far away and so far up there. In reality, it is only about 2 miles away, but it really is way up there!

Rubicon Peak Trail

Start of the trail. Rubicon Peak in the distance.

The Trail

We made good time up the first mile, but most of it was graded pretty level. All the while I was thinking that we have gone a mile and we still have so much more to gain, meaning that last mile is gonna be a climb. That’s when the climbing starts, and a short while later the real climbing starts. The last 3/4 mile is over 1000 feet of climbing. Towards the top, the trail gets a little harder to follow through the rocks and there are many cairns to confuse you. Just keep going up and towards the left, eventually you will see the large granite summit block.

Navigating the Summit Block

The summit block is a large piece of granite and finding an easy route took a few minutes. Matt went up the northeast end and found a route up to the top. This required walking along a knife edge with some heavy exposure. He made his way over to the summit from there. I went to the right towards the southwest side and found a shorter class 2 route up. You could probably call this low class 3, but the holds were sturdy. This led up to a knifes edge, but had a wider area to walk along on the way to the summit. There is a like a 600 foot drop off the east side.

Rubicon Peak Trail

Matt hitting the upper reaches of the summit block, the summit is still to his right. Lots of exposure on the other side.

The views up here are amazing 360-degree views. Kick back and take it all in. It’s quite amazing. There are 4 Desolation Wilderness lakes down in the canyon to the west. To the north you can see peaks such as Ellis, Twin, and up to Castle. To the south there is a nice view of Dick’s Peak, Mt. Price, and can see Little Round Top over on Carson Pass.

No summit register located. For me, a peak that you do once and call it a day. But definitely one that you should do once. This is would be a great training hike to get you in shape for something bigger.