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Trout Creek

Oregon > Central Oregon
Access Issue: Seasonal Raptor Closure 2020 UPDATE/Private Land Boundaries Details


Trout Creek is Oregon's premier destination for pure crack climbs. The climbing is physical, the rock is rough, and the approach is long if you're not used to hiking. The bulk of the climbing is vertical cracks in corners and stem-boxes on large basalt columns coming in at the 5.10-5.12 range with an increasingly large smattering of really high quality 5.13s. There are also a handful of lower angle crack climbs on the North side of the crag that come in at 5.7-5.11. The main wall faces west and this fact dictates when it is best to climb there. It is possible to climb at Trout year round if you climb in the sun/shade accordingly, but the crag closes every January 15th for Golden Eagle nesting. There is a published guidebook. It used to be free, but is now published through Rakkup and can be purchased in digital form for $4.99 at this Link. It is an excellent resource and comes highly recommended, especially if you're interested in ethics, history, and thoughts behind grades.

The position of the crag is spectacular and contributes to Trout's special vibe. It's possible to climb there without tape, but it sure feels nice to have something between your skin and the rock. In terms of gear, lots of people have complained about how many cams you need, but my experience is that you can get by with a double rack if you have a couple choice supplements for specific routes. Extra hand and finger sized pieces are definitely a good idea. In terms of new route potential, there are still a couple lines that haven't been done, but they're mostly thin and difficult.

Additionally, one of Trout's most outstanding characteristics is the sense of welcome, stewardship, and community that the people who climb there bring to it. Evidence of this can be found in the steel carabiners on the chains of the vast majority of the classic routes. These are meant for simplifying the top-rope cleaning process and were contributed by the generosity of others. Please respect that by leaving them in place, but feel free to clip directly to them when TRing. Additionally, there is a community bucket currently located under a boulder in the vicinity of the bench-like columns beneath Gold Rush. It usually contains a first aid kit and various odds and ends.  You'll find another bucket next to it with wagbags in it.  Feel free to take one should the need arise, but otherwise, please leave them in place for those actually in need.

It's worth noting that Trout's Main Wall requires exposed boulder-hopping to enjoy fully. People and/or dogs not comfortable walking and 3rd/4th classing in exposed situations probably won't enjoy visiting. Lastly, FA information is based on the guidebook but a degree of uncertainty exists for some of the moderates given the low-profile nature of the original Trout Creek climbers.

Possibly the most important thing to know about climbing at Trout is it's central access issue: golden eagles. There is a nest at the south end of the Main Wall and there are another three nests at the Cool Wall. The overhanging, broken columns adjacent to the nest (the columns that are bent over) are closed to climbing and the entire area is closed to all access. (hiking and climbing) from January 15th through August 31st. While no climbers have violated the closures by actually tying in when the crag is closed, the BLM has encountered climbers who hiked up to check the place out during the closure. It can't be stressed enough that you should not be hiking above the river during the closure period!

Getting There

From the city of Madras: drive 97 North past Safeway and out of town. Turn left of NE Cora Drive. It'll turn into NE Clark Drive which you'll follow into the town of Gateway, OR. Cross the train tracks and take a right following signs to Trout Creek Recreational Area. From the day-use area at the up-stream end of the campground, follow the trail/road up stream for about 10 minutes. There are currently two trails up to the crag. One leaves the river right after the road jogs around a small berm (right after you pass a bench on your right) and switchbacks up to the Northern End. To get to the other, older trail, follow the road past the first trail for another 5 minutes, cross a small cattle guard (the second you will have encountered if you include the very first one you cross after leaving the parking lot), and look for a trail heading up and left during a long straightaway.

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

Trout Creek
[Hide Photo] Trout Creek
Tommy Caldwell working on the project immediately to the left of Gold Rush.<br>
The first 5.13 at Trout Creek?
[Hide Photo] Tommy Caldwell working on the project immediately to the left of Gold Rush. The first 5.13 at Trout Creek?
Main Wall
[Hide Photo] Main Wall
The main wall<br>
Photo by Thad Arnold.
[Hide Photo] The main wall Photo by Thad Arnold.
Wicked basalt columns along the base.  Don't dare the depths!
[Hide Photo] Wicked basalt columns along the base. Don't dare the depths!
Cody on the first ascent of Reservation Blues 5.12+
[Hide Photo] Cody on the first ascent of Reservation Blues 5.12+
Second ascent of Dame el Oro. One of those "there's-snow-on-the-ground-I'm-not-sure-it's-a-good-idea-to-climb" days.
[Hide Photo] Second ascent of Dame el Oro. One of those "there's-snow-on-the-ground-I'm-not-sure-it's-a-good-idea-to-climb" days.
Side of Trout
[Hide Photo] Side of Trout
Regarding (Jefferson...)
[Hide Photo] Regarding (Jefferson...)
Not a bad view
[Hide Photo] Not a bad view
So cold this morning.
[Hide Photo] So cold this morning.
fun perspective with big and little people.
[Hide Photo] fun perspective with big and little people.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

Peter Franzen
Phoenix, AZ
[Hide Comment] This is an amazing area, and I want to thank all of the people who have worked on its development.

I was really struck by the rock here-- I came expecting the usual slick-as-ice basalt that we're used to in the Northwest, but I was surprised to see that it has an incredible texture that is reminiscent of the tuff at Smith Rock. Among other things, that tends to make the climbing a bit sportier than some other purely trad areas that you might visit; because of the abrasive texture there's a chance that you might actually stick that desperate deadpoint to a far-away fingerjam. Oct 13, 2009
[Hide Comment] Does passive pro work well here or do you have to rely mostly on cams? Not everyone has three or more cams of one size... Oct 14, 2009
Max Tepfer
Bend, OR
[Hide Comment] Passive pro does work well in many places, but there are certain routes where you do actually need triples or quadruples of a given size in order to place gear every ten feet.

"You'll be able to climb with a "regular" rack on many of the routes. If you climb solid 5.10 and have a double set of cams and stoppers you should be fine on some of the most popular climbs. Wonder Twins, U2, The Guillotine, Sleepy Hallow, Gods Must Be Angry, Two Step, Usual Suspects, Talkin' it Clean (and the routes close by), The Long March, Rock Around the Block, Mr Squiggles, Lively Up Yourself...and many others. So don't let the lack of gear talk you out of heading up there.

Jr Token, Gold Rush, Fingerlings, Alchemy and many of the finger cracks (typically) require more than doubles." -Jeffw (a pretty knowledgeable guy) on the subject of gear requirements at Trout. Oct 19, 2009
Max Tepfer
Bend, OR
[Hide Comment] The closure does not include the campground. The river road and campground are unaffected by the closure. If you do hike the river road, do not leave it and head up the trails to cliff. The closure only affects the climber's trails and crag. There should be signs after a couple hundred feet of trail. Mar 17, 2013
Chris Sepic
Bend, OR
[Hide Comment] In case anyone is curious, Forrest Kaye and I recently timed the approach trails. With full packs, the long (south) trail takes 30 minutes from the start of the north trail to the Gold Rush staging area. The shorter, steeper north trail takes 20 minutes from its start to the northern end. Aug 1, 2015
Rob Price
Seattle, WA
[Hide Comment] Hi Chris,
I notice the 'Guidebooks' link says (3) guidebooks but there's nothing on the page when I click. You can get the rakkup guide at… or just install the app for iPhone/iPad or Android and find Trout Creek in the 'Store' tab. Have a great trip! TC is amazing. Mar 15, 2016
M Alexander
[Hide Comment] After missing the further trail and mobbing straight up the hill, if it is your first time I would recommend taking the closer trail and boulder hopping to the main wall. Also, main wall is in shade until about 2pm, with the north end staying in the shade much longer, we left around 5 and it was still fine. Rodeo Crack in particular had a cool breeze running through it and felt very nice to sit by. Aug 12, 2016
Max Tepfer
Bend, OR
[Hide Comment] There isn't any free camping or overnight parking. It's a paid BLM campground without water and with bathrooms, picnic tables, and fire rings.…

The timing of the approach is subjective. It usually takes me about 30 minutes up the North Trail, but if you're carrying a lot of gear and don't like walking uphill, and go the long way, it wouldn't be unreasonable to take an hour. An additional factor is how good you are at talus hopping and where you choose to start climbing/which trail you take. If you hike up on the North but are going to warm up by Gold Rush and are slow crossing the base, that can add time. Sep 18, 2016
Patrick Beeson
Portland, OR
[Hide Comment] See Friends of Trout Creek on Facebook for opening/access details:… May 17, 2018
Nate Ball
Portland, OR
[Hide Comment] A few notes from a recent visit...

Due to summer temps and eagle closures, Autumn is probably the single best season to visit this crag.

There is a confusing network of roads from Hwy 26 to the campground. Time-wise from Portland, it is no closer than Smith Rock, and the gnarly approach (for a single-pitch crag) makes it more of a hassle than the Lower Gorge.

When entering the campground, try to get one of the few spots with a table and/or flat spot for your tent that is shaded. These are quite limited.

A double rack is sufficient for most routes in the lower grade range. A triple rack is handy when red-pointing the harder routes. Many classics - including the one everyone comes to climb - require four or more of a single size. Nuts become a useful alternative only at 10+, in my experience.

Lastly, the campground isn't cheap. It's $8/night Sunday-Thursday, and $12/night Friday-Saturday. $2 for each additional vehicle, with the alternative of parking in the lot and walking to the site. Group sites are $25/weekday and $35/weekend nights. Jun 19, 2018
Boulder, CO
[Hide Comment] This is one of the best single-pitch trad crags I have visited. Beautiful rock, stunning views, and varied climbing make this a real gem!

Thank you Max and everyone else who has kept this crag as amazing as it is! Oct 20, 2019