Rubicon Reservoir

September 28, 2019 · Desolation Wilderness

Moderate elevation gain, a well maintained trail, possibly a chilly evening, and camping at a beautiful reservoir in Desolation Wilderness.


16.4 mi

Elevation gain

1,971 ft


2 days

The trail

Check out the route in detail on AllTrails.

Sat Sep


Positive attitudes

We drove up to Eldorado National Forest on Friday after work to find a dispersed camping spot so that we could kick off the weekend camping as soon as possible. I had found a place on Google Maps that seemed promising, so I shared the GPS location with the other 2 cars. Andrew and I were the first to arrive at the site, but the road was gated. That wasn't going to work for our group, so we quickly scouted a new location about 2 minutes away and returned to the gated site to wait for the other two cars to arrive.

Arun and his dog Rocket arrived shortly after. They headed to the new camp location to get a fire started and start setting up camp. Jrah and Chuqian pulled up about 30 minutes later. We caravanned to the new spot, set up tents, and then enjoyed the evening around the camp fire.

The next morning we cleaned up camp and then headed to the trailhead. The weather forecast was iffy, with rain, snow, and clouds in our near future. Despite these predictions, Jrah had his own: Sun.

Both Jrah and the National Weather Service were right.

The hike to Rubicon Reservoir was around 9 miles. We stopped for a few short breaks, but mostly just trudged to our destination. The weather varied from clouds to sunny breaks, with a consistent wind the entire way. Once we arrive at the reservoir, we found a great site that would accommodate our 5 tents.

After our new home was set up, we found a sheltered lunch spot, sipped on hot drinks, and took in all the sun we could get. Some of us were feeling a little restless, so we decided to take a little day hike around the reservoir. Jrah and I headed out a little early with a plan to meet Andrew at the damn. It started snowing about 15 minutes after we headed out, so we turned around after getting pelted in the face, and napped in our tents instead. I assumed Andrew would do the same, but he ended up heading out and going around the Reservoir.

In the evening, we had our dinners, and then quickly retired to our tents. We were in our sleeping bags by 7:30.

Sun Sep



Around 3am I woke up to a partially collapsed tent. Wet and heavy snow had been falling sporadically throughout the night, and needed human intervention to brush off the snow and restore the tent to its original form.

When the morning light woke us up, we were greeted by a beautiful frosted landscape. We gathered around a large rock, warmed up with hot drinks and breakfast, and waited for the sun to dry things off a little.

We were packed up and on the trail by 10am.

The hike out was straightforward, but possibly a little longer than we all remembered.

Preparing for this trip

Here is some information that comes in handy when preparing for this trip like this.

Trip posted by KP