Incredible. Amazing. Technical. Awesome. Challenging. Majestic. Epic. These are all adjectives we would use to describe the infamous Rubicon Trail in Northern California. While it may not be the most difficult trail in the world, it presents endless challenges and a mixture of tranquility and nature you are hard-pressed to experience elsewhere. The Rubicon is arguably the yardstick by which any elite trail should be measured, and for good reason.
The Rubicon is a 22-mile trail that starts from Loon Lake, east of Sacramento, California, and ends near Lake Tahoe. It is an endless path of boulders, obstacles, and scenery-everything you could ever want in a trail. If you take your time to enjoy it, the trail will take you three days to complete. Any real wheeler needs to put the Rubicon on their list of trails to conquer in their lifetime, and make sure you cross it off more than once. It is for these very reasons that Jeep even has a model of Wrangler named after the trail.
In fact, when we worked with Jeep to purchase our Project 'Con Artist, itself a Rubicon Unlimited, we decided we would build a daily driver that was capable of running the Rubicon trail. Driving to the trailhead, completing the trail, and driving home were the mission objectives for the project. Everything we have done in this initial build was done with that goal in mind. So we kept the gearing, lift, and tire sizes conservative, while choosing what we felt were the highest-quality products out there to help us. Whenever we were asked why we didn't go with 37-inch tires, we countered with, "Who needs 37s if we can do the Rubicon on 35s?"
So it was with 35-inch tires on our long-wheelbase Jeep that we tackled the trail, hoping to prove our theory. We also figured we would do the Rubicon properly and run without a top or doors. After all, this is the epitome of real Jeepin', right? We were incredibly impressed with how well the 'Con Artist in its current state tackled the trail, even going over obstacles that vehicles with bigger tires became stuck on. Our extensive underbody protection kept us sailing smoothly over obstacles, while the flexiness of our suspension helped maximize the effectiveness of our tires. This becomes all the more impressive when you consider that 'Con Artist has been used to comfortably commute in for nearly two years, really highlighting what a great foundation Jeep's JK is.
Joining us on this trip, led by the crew at Rubicon Express, were many of our industry friends who brought out their latest products to demonstrate on the trail. Representatives and vehicles from ARB, Bilstein, Kilby, Rubicon Express, Poly Performance, and XXX Traction were all on hand, as well as John Cappa, editor of our sister magazine Jp, and our own feature editor, Robin Stover. After a journey as amazing as this, we put together a little pictorial for your enjoyment.