Old Sluice

Pollock Pines, California (El Dorado County)

Last Updated: 08/17/2019
5 /5 ( 3 reviews )
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 8-9
Length: 0.65 miles
Highest Elevation: 6637 feet
Duration: About 2 hours
Shape of Trail: Straight Through
Best Direction to Travel: North
Nearest Town: Pollock Pines
Nearest Town w/ Services: Pollock Pines
Official Road Name: Old Sluice / Rubicon Trail
Management Agency: Eldorado National Forest
District: Pacific Ranger District
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles


Highlight: Old Sluice

Old Sluice is a short, but near-extreme and almost forgotten section of the Rubicon Trail in the Eldorado National Forest outside of Pollock Pines, California. Where the more common Rubicon route travels across the lower granite slabs known as Indian Trail, this higher and more challenging route will seriously test your rig. Old Sluice is arguably the most difficult section of the Rubicon Trail. This is the reason most bypass it. With one obstacle after another, after another, after another, plus some serious views of Buck Island Lake and Miller Creek on the mountainside above Rubicon Springs, Old Sluice will keep an experienced wheeler entertained four a couple hours or more. If you're running the Rubicon for the first time and pushing just to get through it, Old Sluice is probably not for you... This trail is tough. If you feel you should bypass it, there is no shame in that, but if you're up for the challenge and your rig is built for it, you'll love wheeling Old Sluice.



7 day forecast for Old Sluice

Route Information

Advanced Rating System

Recommended Vehicle:
Highly Modified 4X4 (Big Lift, Locker(s), Larger Tires)
The entire trail is non-stop obstacles with the worst one being at Waypoint 4.

Technical Rating: 8-9

Rocky or undulated road surface. Rocks less than 10' tall. Vertical ledges less than 8' tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 18' foot. Tire placement not good. Extreme steep and off-camber.

Read more about our rating system


This short, alternate section of the Rubicon Trail connects the northwestern end of Buck Island Lake and the southeastern end of Spider Lake via a more difficult route above the Rubicon Trails Indian Trail. Large boulders, tight, narrow canyons, and loose rocky hills fill this trail. Old Sluice can be run in either direction, but going up, starting from the Buck Island Lake side is more fun (and more challenging). At under three-quarters of a mile, you might expect this to be a quick trail, but it is not. Hard rock obstacle after hard rock obstacle will keep your pace at a crawl. This trail is for experienced wheelers and built rigs. If you struggle on the way to this trailhead, you might want to stick with Indian Trail / The Slabs and bypass this one. If you are looking for more of a challenge than the rest of the Rubicon Trail leading to this point, head on up Old Sluice.
This trail can be run in either direction and most of it is narrow. Watch and listen ahead for other vehicle.


1. Old Sluice Trailhead - Turn Northwest (0.00 mi)

Just under a half mile from the north end of Buck Island Lake​, the Rubicon Trail splits. Take the western route to start on Old Sluice.

2. Easy Notch - Continue Straight (0.02 mi)

Continue straight, up and through this easy notch.

3. Small Rock Hill - Continue Straight (0.05 mi)

Continue straight, up the small, loose rocky hill.

4. Old Sluice Gate Keeper - Continue Straight (0.08 mi)

Pick your line and continue straight. You have plenty of options here on the Old Sluice Gatekeeper; You can choose from the hard line over the boulders, the hard line over the boulders, the hard line over the boulders or ride the wall (and go over the boulders) for the near-impossible line.

5. Memorial Plaque - Continue Straight (0.13 mi)

Continue straight. The Memorial Plaque here reads: "In Memory of Charles E McCranie 1942 - 1990" If you know the story of Charles and would like to share it, please leave a trail review below.

6. Mini Thompson - Continue Straight (0.16 mi)

Continue Straight, up Mini Thompson; A short hill filled with boulders and loose rocks that have a way of shifting underneath your off-road rig.

7. QP Trees - Continue Straight (0.21 mi)

Continue straight, up the rocks at QP Trees. Watch you passenger side on the trees here as the terrain pushes your quarter panel (QP) into them.

8. Turnout and Scenic Waypoint - Continue Straight (0.27 mi)

Continue straight or stop here to take a break and enjoy the view. The views on the granite slabs here are worth the stop. This small turn out has room for about 3 rigs and is one of the ​very few places to let oncoming rigs pass.

9. Cliff Side - Keep Left / West (0.44 mi)

Curve to the left/west or stop here to take a break and enjoy the views. Not quite as amazing as the views at the previous waypoint, but still worth a stop. This turn out has room for about a dozen or more rigs and is another one of the few places to let oncoming rigs pass.

10. Steps to Chappie Rock - Continue Straight (0.50 mi)

Continue straight, up the rock steps leading to Chappie Rock at the next waypoint.

11. Chappie Rock - Continue Straight (0.52 mi)

Continue straight to make your way up Chappie Rock. Chappie rock is named after Eugene A. Chappie who was an avid supporter of Rubicon Trail.

12. Big Rock Exit - Continue Straight (0.61 mi)

Continue straight to make your way down the last rocky section of Old Sluice. If you've made​ it this far, this final obstacle should be no problem for you.

13. End / Rubicon Mile Marker 4.2 (0.65 mi)

Old Sluice ends here at Rubicon Trail mile marker 4.2. Turn left/northwest here to head back to Loon Lake. Turn right/southeast to head back down the Indian Trail, toward Buck Island Lake.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 39.007032, -120.261709

Starting Point: Loon Lake, California

From Icehouse Resort, take Ice House Road North 1.65 miles, and then follow Ice House Road to the left. Stay on Ice House Road for another 13 miles, and then turn right to stay on Ice House Road at Wentworth Springs Road. Take Ice House Road another 7.5 miles to the Loon Lake Dam. The Rubicon Trail Trailhead is on the other side of the lake. Enter the Rubicon Trail ( where the wheeling starts ) and follow Rubicon Trail for just over 5 miles, down the slabs and watch for the fork to the right / north with a sign for Old Sluice. If you reach Buck Island Lake, you have gone too far.



Dispersed camping is allowed on this trail, but you will find better options at Buck Island Lake where there are pit toilets, open spaces, and an amazing lake to swim in. The closest commercial campgrounds and tow rig parking locations are at Loon Lake, near the Rubicon Trail Trailhead. Campfire​ restrictions are typically in effect starting in July / August. Check with the Eldorado National Forest, Pacific Ranger District for current fire restrictions. 530-644-2349 Monday - Friday / Hours: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm

Camping: Old Sluice

Trail Reviews (3)

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Had a great time running up Old Sluice again. Some boulders near the bottom of WP4 have shifted around making it a little bit easier, but still fun!

Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Awesome trail. great review I like those rigs and the snow man. did you guys go up it ?

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Great trail with some very challenging sections. Because this trail is deep within the Rubicon, the best way to run it ( IMO ) is to add a day to your Rubicon trip, target Buck for your first night of camping, take Indian Trail down and back track the next day to head up Old Sluice. If you get through Old Sluice without too many issues, you’ll have time left that day to maybe check out the RTF property off Indian Trail ( if it’s open ) or relax and swim at Buck Island Lake.

Questions & Answers (0)

Writer Information

G. Martin

Mapping Crew - California

G. Martin, gm4x4 on Youtube , is a California native, born and raised in northern California and now living and wheeling in southern California. He enjoys exploring new trails and setting up camp in the remote outdoors. You may come across him in the middle of the Mojave Desert, the mountains of Big Bear, in the central Sierras near Shaver Lake or any other dirty, rocky road in the southwest. TrailsOffroad offers a focus point in G.Martin's offroad exploration.
For individual use only, not to be shared.