A climber climbs on volcanic tuff

Climbing Medford’s Local Favorite

Your guide to climbing southern Oregon’s popular Rattlesnake crag.

Meet Medford’s quintessential backyard crag. Rattlesnake is less than an hour from town but tucked into deep forest. The quiet southern Oregon setting, short approach, and high concentration of good-quality routes make Rattlesnake a perfect after-work escape on summer evenings and year-round weekends alike.

Though the location gives its golden cliffs and stone arches a remote feel, this land has been inhabited for decades. Historically it was the homeland of the Monoc, Umpqua, and Siletz peoples, among others. Today, much of the land in this area is owned by either the federal government or logging companies (see “Special Etiquette,” below).

Rattlesnake hosts over 100 climbing routes. The vast majority are bolted, single-pitch routes on welded volcanic tuff, and several offer top-rope access. While most of the lines fall somewhere between 5.10 and 5.12, the grades range from 5.8 to 5.13—one of the reasons that locals of all ability levels come back to train here year after year. 

Recommended Routes

Rattlesnake is packed with high-quality routes. Here are a few local favorites to get you started.

The Clam (5.8)

Short but sweet, this layback crack traces the edge of a thick flake on the Sunset Wall. 

Arabesque (5.10a)

Pick your way up the rib of an exposed stone arch on this ultra-classic.

Split Decision (5.10a)

Good holds abound on this 60-foot headwall, save for the interesting but technical crux. 

The Great Bear (5.10d)

Big holds on a steep crux give this classic a heroic finish.

Cloud Drifter (5.11c)

Tiptoe through a low crux to gain a sustained arête with stunning exposure.

The Scorpion (5.12a)

Tackle fun, bouldery climbing on this challenging line. Stick-clip recommended. 


Spring and fall are the best times to visit, with April and May generally being the most popular. That said, you can climb any time of year as long as you’re motivated to hunt shade or sun, respectively. 

Getting There

Head north from Medford on state Highway 62. At the town of Trail, Ore., take a left onto Highway 227, aka Trail-Tiller Highway. Just before Milepost 50, hang a left onto West Fork Trail Creek Road. Then, after about a half-mile, turn left onto a dirt road called Cabin Canyon Road. You’ll take your first left, then bear straight through several intersections to stay on Cabin Canyon Road. 

The parking area is located on Cabin Canyon Road, about a mile past the quarry at these coordinates. Park on the left side of the road and find the approach trail on the right. After about 10 minutes of hiking, you should see the first routes. 

Special Etiquette

The Rattlesnake area occupies both public land (managed by the Bureau of Land Management) and private land. Be respectful, and avoid parking too close to the road to leave room for occasional logging trucks. There are no facilities here, so carry in all your own water and pack out all your own waste (that includes the human kind; consider a W.A.G. Bag essential gear).

Local Tip 

If you’re headed to Rattlesnake on a weekend, stop for coffee and breakfast at Mac’s Diner in Shady Cove. On the way home, feast on brisket tacos and barbecue sandwiches at Goebel’s Country Store. 

Guidebook Resource

Rock Climbing Western Oregon: The Rogue, Volume 3 by Greg Orton 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.