Guidelines for Carrying and Using Firearms on the Rubicon

Trail users often ask about firearms and their use on the Rubicon Trail. RTF believes that this information is correct and up to date. Every gun owner is responsible for knowing the law and following it.

First, all gun owners should BE AWARE, about 1/3 of the trail is on private land, and the other 2/3 of the trail is on National Forest. Be aware of where you are, pay attention to private property signs and posting, and make sure you are shooting or carrying legally. These exemptions described below do not apply to individuals who are otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms.

Long Guns

Rifles and shotguns can be carried in your vehicle, unloaded (no locked container required), with ammunition stored separate. (California PC 25610)

Conceal Carry Exceptions

If you are a California CCW permit holder, you can carry a loaded and concealed handgun on the trail, just like you can most places in California. (California PC 25400)


Handguns or any firearm with a barrel length (including receiver) less than 16 inches can also be carried in your vehicle, unloaded and in a locked container (or locked in trunk) with the ammunition stored separate, If you are traveling to and from a lawful gun use opportunity (target practice, a hunting trip, or the like). (California PC 25640, 16530, 25610.)

AK/AR Rifles

Any firearm that is classified as an “assault weapon” (such as AKs and AR-15s) cannot be on public land without special permission. (California PC 30510, 30515, 30520, 30945(f))

Open Carry

Open carry (carrying an unconcealed weapon, typically a handgun, whether or not it is loaded) is not legal on public land unless you are protecting your campsite (domicile), are legitimately hunting or fishing, or conducting target practice. “Domicile” has recently been interpreted to mean “inside your tent”, not just wandering around your campsite. (California PC 26350 and 25850). Open carry is not legal on private land unless you have specific permission of the landowner.

Target Practice

RTF strongly discourages discharging firearms in the Rubicon. There are many people around, backdrops are blind that could hide people, private and public lands are mixed, there are many lakes (which should never be shot over), and most of all, the landscape is almost entirely granite and ricochets are always a danger.

If you choose to target discharge firearms in the Rubicon:

  • Must be on public land (National Forest)
  • Must use soft backdrop (ricochet prevention)
  • No shooting from or across a road (Rubicon trail)
  • No shooting from or across bodies of water
  • No shooting within 150 yards of any residence or campsite