Rattlesnake Trail #275

Important Note

Because this trail goes up and over a ridge, its average slope is misleading. Refer to the elevation gain/loss and segment-level slope for a more accurate indication of its steepness.

Certain Forest Service maps provide an incorrect interpretation of this trail's route that may differ from this guide.

Length: 3.04 mi

Difficulty: difficult

Condition: terrible

Elevation gain/loss: 940 ft ↑ / 725 ft ↓

Average slope: 1.3%


The Rattlesnake Trail is accessible from three locations, some of which have not been surveyed at this time.

The northern terminus (31.91850, -109.31362) is located along Pine Canyon Road (FR 357), between Methodist Camp and Barfoot Park. Due to tremendous flood damage, this road is no longer drivable in this area and in places is hardly even recognizable as a path. The trailhead is marked with a sign.

Near Rattle Rock Saddle, both the Bootlegger Trail (31.90120, -109.31502) and Witch Ridge Trail (31.90077, -109.31588) connect in 350 feet apart from each other.

The southern terminus is with the Rock Creek Trail in Rock Canyon.

Trail Description

Pine Canyon to Rattle Rock Saddle

The Rattlesnake Trail begins in Pine Canyon at a signed trailhead. A small clearing here is all that remains of a sawmill which was later moved up canyon to Barfoot Park. The trail begins as a very visible logging road, though it has washed away in several places and becomes briefly narrow. After 0.35 mile, the creek makes a bend to the left across the road and the former crossing has been obliterated. While traces of the original route occasionally become visible, it is generally better to just follow the creek from here unless you notice an especially enticing stretch of trail or road. Be warned that it is extremely rocky with large boulders in the creekbed in most places.

0.4 mile later you'll reach the Wilderness boundary, at which point you are a quarter mile due west of Rattlesnake Peak. Another 0.4 mile beyond and the canyon swings from the southeasterly course it had been on to head nearly straight east for a while. Until this point, the route is heavily shaded under tree cover, but the canyon bottom from here was heavily burned and it becomes much more exposed. Remain in the creek bottom for another 0.22 miles before coming to the trail again. The sign marking the point where the trail exits the canyon to the right is lost, but rock cairns should be present. The trail swings sharply to the south and then southwest and climbs up the slope. Frequently contouring around the terrain as it climbs, the next half mile to the Bootlegger Trail junction is steep but not so much as to require switchbacks.

The junction is marked with a sign. The Bootlegger Trail connects in from the left while the Rattlesnake Trail continues to the right an additional 350 feet before reaching Rattle Rock Saddle. Another signed junction occurs here, with the Witch Ridge Trail, which takes the right fork while Rattlesnake continues down the left fork into Rock Canyon.

Rattle Rock Saddle to Rock Creek Trail

Though Rock Canyon itself fared well in the Horseshoe II fire, the Rattlesnake Trail passes through total devastation all the way from Rattle Rock Saddle until just before it hits the Rock Creek Trail. Coming out of the saddle it takes the lower of the two routes, initially heading west, then swinging to the northwest. After 400 feet, the trail crosses a very narrow spot that has been eroding badly, then contours to the southwest to meet a switchback 0.16 mi beyond. Heading east-southeast now, there is a washout with a several foot drop in the trail after 0.13 mi, then the trail turns sharply south and contours down the slope for the next third of a mile to a final switchback. Due north for 0.13 mi takes you to the bottom of the creek, at which point the trail pretty much disappears entirely. (31.89829, -109.32025)

Follow the canyon bottom roughly south for 0.16 mi until a faint path can be seen gradually climbing back out of the west side of the canyon. (31.89636, -109.32127) Follow this 450 feet in the same south-southwest direction and you will reach the Rock Creek Trail in the bottom of Rock Canyon. (31.89526, -109.32184) To the southeast, the Saulsbury Saddle Trail junction can be reached in 0.81 mi, with the Bootlegger Trail and Crest Trail accessible further beyond. To the west lie Fitch Corral Trail, Turkey Pen Trail, Fife Canyon Trail and the Rock Creek Trail's western terminus at Forest Road 259.


Topographic map of Rattlesnake Trail #275

Last updated May 3, 2017.