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Rubicon Reservoir

Rubicon Reservoir

- My Dad, Pepper and I explore Desolation Wilderness.

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This was one of my prep trips for Humphreys Basin. I wanted to choose a trip at elevation. I also wanted to choose a trip where my Dad and I had options to camp along the route if we wanted to hike shorter distances with our full packs. During an earlier trip to Wright's Lake, with my Dad and family, we all hiked into Twin Lakes. It was a stunning hike and I welcomed the chance to explore more of the area. I also knew that there was a well maintained road to Loon Lake so, even though it was a long drive, access to the area would be relatively easy. Checking out the Rubicon Road area was an added bonus.


Clear waters of Loon Lake
Clear waters of Loon Lake

4 wheel drive start of the Rubicon Trail
Start of the Rubicon Trail

Pepper rock hopping at Loon Lake
Action shot of Pepper

Day 0 Highlights

  • The long drive up Icehouse to explore and camp at Loon Lake.
  • Enjoying the comforts of car camping before heading into the backcountry
  • So many 4wd Jeeps heading over to Rubicon


Trail along Loon Lake
Rolling trail along Loon Lake

Napping at the shore of Buck Island Lake
Pepper at our tranquil nap spot along Buck Island Lake

Wilderness sign selfie
Entering Desolation

Our campsite at Rubicon Reservoir
View looking back at Dad and camp

Sunset at Rubicon Reservoir
Sunset at Rubicon Reservoir

Day 1 Highlights

  • Took our time hiking 8 miles into Desolation with plenty of pack off breaks
  • Toughest part was up a long saddle at the end of Loon Lake
  • Lots of 4wd activity up to Buck Island, a bunch of other backpackers and day hikers on the trail
  • Beautiful campsite


Sunrise at Rubicon Reservoir
Sunrise at Rubicon Reservoir

Pepper at sunrise
Pepper in the morning

The waters by the dam at Rubicon Reservoir
Mirror like waters by the dam

View of Rockbound Valley
Wide view where the trail crosses the Rubicon

Rockbound valley at sunset
Rockbound Valley at sunset

Day 2 Highlights

  • Explored the inlet and further up Rockbound Valley. Spectacular, open views of the Crystal Range and cool, clear swimming holes.
  • Most other people camped at the lake packed up and left
  • Still made it back with plenty of time to relax at camp


Water gathering and lake jumping rock at Rubicon Reservoir
Our rock in the reservoir

Hopping over blowdowns along the trail back home
Dad and Pepper handling one of the many blowdowns with ease


  • Location: Rubicon Reservoir, Desolation Wilderness via the Loon Lake trailhead.
  • Date: June 2021.
  • Stats: 18+ total mileage with ~3,000ft elevation gain.
  • Maps: NatGeo 803 Lake Tahoe Basin. Rockbound Valley USGS Quad. Zone 6 Desolation Wilderness permit and Loon Lake campsite reservation.
  • This was one of my all time favorite trips because of the time I got to spend with my Dad. He told me lots of new family stories about the great outdoors and expounded on some old ones. I'll always treasure this one.

Route of our trip to Rubicon Reservoir from Loon Lake
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Thanks, Dad!
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