Elevation: 3,072 ft
GPS: 42.652, -122.886 Google Map · Climbing Area Map
Page Views: 36,484 total · 313/month
Shared By: Scott Becker on Sep 29, 2009
Admins: Nate Ball, Micah Klesick

Description

Rattlesnake is a secluded sport crag near Medford that provides a decent selection of single pitch climbs for climbers in the Rogue Valley. While it's no destination crag, Rattlesnake is a great training ground for local climbers and is worth a visit if you're in the area. There are over 100 climbs at Rattlesnake that range in difficulty from 5.8 to 5.13a with most of the climbs falling in the range of 5.10+ to mid-5.11. The vast majority of the climbs are bolted sport climbs with even most of the crack climbs 'sporting' a few bolts.

The rock at Rattlesnake is a variety of welded tuff that ranges in quality from 'solid' to 'abysmal' (a.k.a.: "Rattlechoss"), even over the course of a single climb. The cliffs are on a series of buttresses that range in height from about 40 to 100 feet. The bottom portion of the longer climbs may feature a band of heavily fractured (read: chossy) rock. That said, once you tiptoe though the loosest of the rock, the climbs are generally pretty solid.

Rattlesnake is on BLM land but the Boise-Cascade timber company owns some of the surrounding area so follow posted regulations, and as always, leave no trace. There are no outhouses or water out at the crag. If you must sit while you jettison your morning coffee, make a pit stop in Shady Cove or Trail.

Climbing is best during spring and fall, but possible all year. Wintertime can be great when the sun shines as long as a significant snow pack has not formed, which is unusual. Summer can be uncomfortably hot but shade can almost always be found.

A guide to Rattlesnake is in Greg Orton's "Rock Climbing Western Oregon: Vol. 3, The Rogue". It includes great topos, route descriptions, directions to the crag, FA info, and lots of other good stuff.

Getting There

Getting to Rattlesnake can be tricky if you haven't been there a few times. Orton's guide contains detailed directions but it's possible to get lost even with these directions. I've even heard stories of people having to make two or three trips before they even find the crag.

  • From I-5 exit 30, head north toward Crater Lake on Highway 62 (Crater Lake Hwy.) Pass through Shady Cove after about 20 miles.
  • About three miles past Shady Cove at Trail turn left on Highway 227 (Trail-Tiller Hwy) toward Canyonville. Drive for about three miles. Keep an eye on the milepost markers on the left (south) side of the road.
  • Just before MP 50, turn left on W. Fork Trail Creek Rd. Just after the turn you will cross a bridge over a creek.
  • After the NEXT bridge, turn left onto a dirt road (I believe the directions in the book only mention one bridge, there are two).
  • The first fork in the road comes about a ¼ mile after turning onto the dirt road. Take the left fork. The road should switch back sharply to the left after making this turn.
  • At the next fork, go right. When approaching this fork, the right looks more straight, while the left drops down hill. The road should bend to the right after making the turn.
  • The next time the road splits, you have the option of making a 90 degree turn to the right or staying straight. GO STRAIGHT (a lot of people seem to go astray here).
  • After a while (about a mile) the road will make a sharp bend to the left and you will pass a large quarry (a place where locals like to shoot their guns). After the quarry the road will start to head uphill, flatten out, then head uphill again. There is a pullout on the left where the road fattens out and bends to the right. The approach trail is on the right. It can be tough to spot so keep your eyes open! Distance from the quarry to the trail is maybe 0.7 miles. Total distance on the dirt road is about four miles. A short, uphill hike on the approach trail gets you to the crag.

Some more hints and notes on getting to Rattlesnake:
I've purposely left out exact odometer readings since different vehicles seem to have different odometer readings on the dirt road. The guide book has exact distances so use that if you want to be sure. 
All of the turns on the dirt road are of a "veering" nature. If you every find yourself contemplating a sharp turn in either direction, don't do it.
The road is pretty well maintained and is easily passable by low clearance 2WD vehicles unless there is an unusual amount of snow or mud. Turnoffs that are particularly rough or vegetated are not mentioned in the above directions. Finally, these directions assume you are coming from Medford or Ashland. If you come from north of Gold Hill (I-5) or Trail (Hwy 62), directions will be slightly different. Google maps will be your friend in this case...
[2019 Update]: There are some relatively new clear cuts and 4WD/Jeep trails along the road between the quarry and the trailhead that allow views of some other cliffs in both directions. These are not the crags you're looking for! Keep driving on the main road until you're back in the trees and keep an eye out for the approach trail on the right. Some of the pics in the photo section might prove helpful. 

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Classic Climbing Routes at Rattlesnake

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes in this area.
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The guide book seems to say that the trail is at the quarry off the road. This is not the case :/ follow the last directions on this page to get there. Aug 6, 2012
The dirt road has a random ass wooden sign with a heart painted on it at the turn. That is all. Sep 9, 2015
Sam Bedell
Bend, OR
Sam Bedell   Bend, OR
Some things that will help you find this place the first time...
-the pullout is quite a ways past the quarry (half mile?) where it is flat for a while, don't stop at any of the earlier short flat sections
-the approach trail is well traveled, if its an animal track or you are unsure if the trail continues then its the wrong one
-the trail doesn't actually go up hill that much, it stays at about the same elevation on rolling terrain until you see the cliffs (about 10 min to the first routes) Feb 12, 2017
Nate Ball
Portland, OR
Nate Ball   Portland, OR  
This is a fantastic destination for so many reasons: the views, the solitude, the density of good lines. I dare say, if you climb in the 5.10-12 range, this place has a higher concentration of (not necessarily greater number of or better) quality climbs than Smith Rock. I recently spent three days straight here and got on new routes every day, even though I only climbed up to 11a.

The driving directions on here are way better than those in Orton's guidebook. The map in the book might be helpful though.

The approach trail is really hard to see if you're cruising down the road. Keep your eyes peeled. Also, I wouldn't recommend driving to the top of the cliff. It takes a lot longer, and though it shortens the approach, it's easy to get lost on the various forks, and the lower approach is short and relatively flat anyway.

The road and crag are snow-free pretty much all year. We had intended to visit a newer crag nearby but were stopped by thick snow on the road, impassable even by 4x4 (this was end of March).

I didn't encounter much choss. Seems things have cleaned up relatively well over the years.

Many routes, especially around Cloud Buttress and the Cathedral, are relatively easy to access for top-roping.

Knowing how to rappel is important here. Many of the anchors are rap hangers, which you wouldn't want to lower from.

There are a select few routes that require trad gear, while many popular sport routes have long sections of crack climbing. Obviously the local ethic is accepting of crack-bolting, and this makes it strange to see routes that would otherwise be popular if they had lead bolts.

There has been some development beyond what is included in Orton's guidebook, and a little bit of de-bolting. Several classics are not listed here on MP though, so the book still makes a nice supplement.

It's easy to find awesome camping spots at the top of the cliff. LNT! Apr 2, 2018
I travelled there yesterday and it took me a few hours to find the area! About .5 past the quarry there is a clear cut patch on your left and a trail on the right, that is not the trail!! It is a well travelled jeep trail and will lead you to rocks that look very similar to rattlesnake but have no bolts or anchors. The approach trail is probably a mile past the quarry and hard to notice. If you can't find bolts then you are in the wrong area! Oct 4, 2018
J P
Ashland, OR
J P   Ashland, OR
To help other climbers like Savannah, these are the coordinates for the “parking lot” - the trail is on the right side of the road:
(42.6483910,-122.8822140)

Please park far off to the left side of the road. Logging trucks are fairly infrequent but do need that extra space to squeeze through this turn.

We are working with BLM on some very modest signage over the offseason. Oct 6, 2018
gso Orton
Roseburg, OR
gso Orton   Roseburg, OR
This is a little misleading to say Rattlesnakes has the most single pitch climbs as the Callahans has over 200. Feb 11, 2019
Scott Becker
Medford, OR
Scott Becker   Medford, OR
Good catch, Greg. Not sure what I was thinking when I wrote that almost 10 years ago, probably just unaware of how many climbs were at The Callahans. Also worth noting that Rattlesnake isn't even the highest volume of climbing in the Rogue Valley anymore. I'll edit the text to reflect this. Feb 12, 2019