Castle Rock (SW Oregon)

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Oregon, United States, North America
5750 ft / 1753 m
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Castle Rock (SW Oregon)
Created On: Dec 7, 2008
Last Edited On: Sep 9, 2009

Castle Rock (SW Oregon)

Castle Rock is a large formation on the northern edge of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness area. It is a narrow wedge of rock with numerous chimneys, windows and arches. Though it is dead vertical on every side, a hidden scramble route sneaks it's way up through the very center of the formation, with five steep (class 4-5) steps leading you to the summit. No trail leads to it, but it is an easy half-mile cross-country stroll from the end of the road.
It would seem that the more vertical rock is sound and from what I saw in two trips, technical route opportunities are numerous.

Getting There

From Roseburg, Oregon, the easiest way to get there is to drive highway 138 east approximately 62 miles until you get to Watson Falls. Turn right on Fish Creek Road 37 for about 13 miles. Then turn right on Incense Cedar Loop Road 800 for 3.5 miles then turn right again on Fish Creek Valley Road 870. Follow this badly rutted and narrow road as it snakes it's way into the wilderness, Continue until it ends at the base of Fish mountain. Note that Google Earth shows the road as 800 instead of 870 all the way to it's end.
From roads end, head north towards the top of the ridge, where a fun little crag should be scrambled to it's top, at approximately 6000'. From there you can see the first good glimpse of Castle Rock, and the broad, forested ridge that leads you to it. Downclimb the crag and descend the ridge, keeping in a north-northwest direction. Follow the broad ridge for about half a mile until you reach the base of the rock. Make sure not to descend into the drainages to the east and west.
Once you arrive at the rock, the easiest way to find the route is to traverse east below the rock until you see the Big Cleft, the huge split in the rock with a loose gully at it's base. Follow this gully (one person at a time) until you reach the obvious first step, to the east. Climb the first two steps, each about ten to fifteen feet high until you reach the Garden Spot, an open hollow in the very heart of the crag. Traverse around the left, stepping around an exposed spot and climb the third step, to the north, also about ten feet high. Take time to notice the hollowed-out cave underneath the third step. Then climb the fourth step, just above you, and follow a loose, dirty gully beside a surprisingly large fir-tree until you reach the fifth step, which is the summit tower. Descend the way you came.
There is copious amounts of loose rock sitting on the steps and the ledges. I believe this is because no one ever climbs here. The rock itself is sound and fun to climb, but it would be best to wear a helmet and make sure only one person is climbing at a time.
Castle Rock (SW Oregon)From near the end of the road

Red Tape

Not much. I imagine a NW Forest Park Pass is necessary for parking at the trailhead.
Castle Rock (SW Oregon)A glimpse through the trees


There are numerous camping areas along highway 138, plus several more along Fish Creek Valley Rd 870. Plus, being a wilderness area, backcountry sites abound.


For weather, I believe that the Tiller district would give the most accurate forecast:
Tiller Weather

Climbing Season

While the rock itself isn't necessarily at a high elevation, the road going to it is on alot of north slopes and ends up at a higher elevation than the rock itself, so I imagine road 870 doesn't open until June or July and probably closes by November each year. However, there is a trail that starts out much lower down on Castle Creek and approaches the North side.(which I will investigate soon)

Castle Rock (SW Oregon)

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