Rock climbing in Linn County, Oregon


East Linn County offers some of the best climbing and bouldering in the Willamette Valley – which shouldn’t come as a shock since the entire eastern half of the county is covered with mountains and canyons.

Here are some particularly good locations:

Menagerie Wilderness – This area, shown in the photos below, offers some great climbs, but it’s not for beginners. Climbing sections include Rooster Rock, Rooster’s Tail, Hen Rock, Chicken Rock, East Ridge Crags, Royal Arch Group, Slabside Pinnacle, South Rabbit Ear, The Possum, Turkey Monster and West Ridge Crags. The area is highly developed. To get there from Sweet Home, take Highway 20 east for about 20 miles until you see the entrance to Fernview Campground, to the right. The Rooster Rock trailhead is about half a mile further on your left. Hike the trailhead for just over two miles until you see Chicken Rock.

The Garden – This is one of the best bouldering areas in the state. Located in Quartzville Drive northeast of Sweet Home, these andesite rocks, located in two areas that include over a dozen boulders ranging from under 10 to nearly 40 feet, Bouldering routes are well-developed, but they offer a lot of problems. One is moss. Bring some sturdy brushes. There is also some sports climbing on a few 30- to 50-foot cliffs. To get there, turn north on Quartzville Drive, on the east end of Foster Lake. The parking area is just over four miles from Highway 20. The first dirt road takes you up to the Armageddon area and the other (better) road leads to the main area. Follow the trial down into the forest to reach the boulders.

Santiam Pinnacle – This is a small crag along the road on Highway 20, offering both traditional and sports routes. Park half a mile east of milepost 60 and look for a faint access trail leading up to the pinnacle.

Canyon Creek Cliff – Located just off Highway 20 near the Canyon Creek Bridge, just east of Cascadia, this is a great spot for bouldering and climbing overhanging cliffs over the river. There is some good bouldering here. Hike north from the east side of the creek and follow the small trail leading down the creek into the canyon. Once in the canyon, turn north for about 100 feet, then turn upstream and you’ll see the cliff on your right, with other bouldering farther up the creek.

Wolf Rock – The largest monolith in Oregon, Wolf Rock is a single rock pillar that rises to 4,396 feet (1,339.90 meters) above sea level, located between Highways 20 and 126. From Highway 20, turn south just east of Cascadia on Canyon Creek Road (Forest Road 2022) and follow it to Forest Road 1509, turning right and proceeding on to Forest Road 15. Turn left on FSR 15 and follow it to the rock, where the road actually goes around the base of Wolf Rock. About a mile past the rock, there is a junction with Forest Road 1508, where you can turn back toward the rock. When you’re ready to return to Highway 20, FSR 15 will take you to the Iron Mountain area. There are a wide variety of popular climbing routes on the rock, which offers some basalt sport as well as traditional climbs. Most are grades III or IV, but one, Pooh Corner, is the only grade V climb in Oregon