Rattlesnake Canyon - RC3331

Big Bear City, California (SanBernardino County)

Last Updated: 06/28/2019
5 /5 ( 8 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Difficulty: 2-4
(EASY - MODERATE)
Length: 15.6 miles
Highest Elevation: 5948 feet
Duration: About 2 hours
Shape of Trail: Connector
Best Direction to Travel: South
Nearest Town: Big Bear City
Nearest Town w/ Services: Big Bear City
Official Road Name: 2N69Y, 2N70Y, RC3331
Management Agency: BLM or San Bernardino National Forest
District: Barstow Field Office or Mountain Top District
Distance:
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Highlights

Highlight: Rattlesnake Canyon - RC3331

Rattlesnake Canyon or RC3331 is a popular overland route that takes you into the San Bernardino Mountains from Old Women Springs Road in Johnson Valley California. Known for its amazing views and rich history, this popular easy to intermediate off-road trail will leave you wanting to come back. While on the route, expect easily navigable rocky areas, mud, soft sand, Joshua Trees, amazing views, flowing springs, and great memories. Near Orange and Los Angeles County, this trail sees a lot of people looking for the ultimate escape from the city life. Come out and see why this is one of the most popular offroad adventures in the San Bernardino Mountain Range.

Video

Weather

7 day forecast for Rattlesnake Canyon - RC3331

Route Information

Advanced Rating System (BETA)

Recommended Vehicle:
Stock SUV with High Clearance and 4 Low
Concerns:

Technical Rating: 2-4
(EASY - MODERATE)

Typically, more rock or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 18" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 18" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 36" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep and off-camber.

Read more about our rating system

Description

Rattlesnake Canyon is a popular constantly changing overland route that usually stays in the ratings of 2-4. There are a couple rock patches, mud, sand, Joshua Tree forests, and water along the trail. The trail does drive through a live cattle ranch so please be polite the entire time on the trail and do not honk or mess with the cattle. The north end of the trail does pass through private property but it is an easement for the road. Thus, make sure you are extra cautious and drive slow as you pass the house that is against the hills just before waypoint 2. While on the route you will see many abandoned cabins from the mining days up there along with year-round springs. The trail does get snow in the winter which makes this even more fun. If you want something hard, Motino (Mojito) Wash splits off the trail roughly 11.6 miles in. This trail is the hardest trail known on Big Bear range at this time. Once at the top of the trail, you can go either left or right. Left takes you to Pioneer Town where right takes you up to the east side of Big Bear City.
The trail is shared with live stock, please be careful and do not disturb the live stock.

Waypoints

1. Exit Road

When heading East, exit Highway 247 Old Women Springs Road at the dirt road just after the east part of the turn in the S-turn. This is a good spot to air down due to the roughness of the dirt road getting back to the canyon entrance.

2. Canyon Entrance (4.4 mi)

After traversing the desert, you will come to a narrow canyon with lots of rock debris from it. This is the beginning of Rattlesnake Canyon.

3. Motino (Mojito) Wash Entrance (11 mi)

Motino (Mojito) Wash Trail Entrance. If you enjoy rock crawling then this is a fun side trail for you. Probably the hardest trail on the San Bernardino National Forest Range, Motino Wash will not let you down. Just be ready because the chances of breaking are huge. The trail does connect back to the main trail just up the way. More info can be found at: Motino Wash

4. Exit Canyon and Old Structures (12 mi)

The trail eventually leaves Rattle Snake Canyon to head up into a Joshua Tree Forest, but just before it does it enters into an area of lush green oasis which are fed by several natural springs. The popular spring in the area is named Viscera Spring. This area still has remains of old cabins and windmills from when people used to live out here. The trail exits the canyon to the east. Just follow the main path. If you may remember staying in the canyon all the way to 2N02, chances are you are remembering correctly. Over the years the trail got very hard and the forest service closed the trail.

5. Joshua Tree Forest (13 mi)

Along the route you will pass through a massive Joshua Tree Forest. The great thing is this area is rarely visited by humans so it makes for a great retreat.

6. Motino Wash End

This is where Motino Wash ends and meets back up with Rattlesnake Canyon. Please note to get to the canyon there is a small dirt road that connects the two. More info can be found at: Motino Wash

7. Trail End 2N02 (15.6 mi)

Trail connects with Burns Canyon Road 2N02. Once here, you can go either left or right. Left takes you to Pioneer Town while right takes you up to the east side of the mountains to Baldwin Lake and Big Bear City. More info can be found at: 2N02 Burns Canyon

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 34.370156, -116.651242

Starting Point: Lacurne Valley, CA

When heading east, exit Highway 247 Old Women Springs Road at the dirt road just after the S-turn to the left. There is a small shack just past the turn off. 18.25 miles from Lucerne. Or 26.5 Miles from highway 62 in Yucca Valley. "34.370156, -116.651242"

Camping

Dispersed

The San Bernardino National Forest is a nearby oasis for millions of Southern Californians who want to escape for the weekend and go camping. The higher elevations of the forest mean that the summertime temperatures are cooler than the valleys below. And as an added bonus most campgrounds have shaded sites and some are near streams or lakes. Many campgrounds are adjacent to beautiful natural areas and you can find solitude on quiet wilderness trails. Some campgrounds are reserved campsites, and on weekends or holidays we definitely recommend making a reservation. To do this, visitors can go online to www.recreation.gov or call toll-free 1-877-444-6777. Most campgrounds can accommodate both tent campers and RV's. All campgrounds have picnic tables and restroom facilities, and some even have showers and other amenities. Most campsites accommodate up to 6 people and 2 tents. There may be an additional cost for more than one vehicle. The Forest Service describes camping as either "developed" (usually accessible by road and including facilities like picnic tables, restrooms and fire-rings) or "undeveloped/dispersed" (remote areas accessible only by dirt roads or trails, no facilities). During winter months some locations may be inaccessible due to snow or closed, check with the local Ranger Station for updated conditions. More info can be found at: San Bernardino National Forest Camping

Camping: Rattlesnake Canyon - RC3331

Community

Trail Reviews (13)

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran part of the trail with Adventure Offroad at the 1st ever Jeep Bash. What a great trip!!!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This adventure was recommended by our Son who has done it a few times prior in a lifted 4Runner made for elevated off gridding. I have an above average 2010 4Runner, no longer stock, but not lifted. In any case, he was our guide up Rattlesnake Canyon, and we've already done 2N02 to Baldwin Lake. Started from HWY 247, pretty easy, sighting cattle, and drove with respect... Entering canyon started to get rocky, nothing extreme, but IMO there are four what the Boy called 'Gates", I made 3, and the last one wound up with a memory scrape on the lower fender. My fault for not waiting for the spotter...Use one & you will be fine. At this time there is seeping water/mud & lots of flowers to see. If you go, try not to tear it up any more in the mud, same with 2N02, it's getting bad, just because you can, doesn't mean you have to.... Have Fun. let's make it last... Not recommended for rookies, or being self guided/alone. We saw nothing but cattle & nice scenery for 41 miles... And, it's getting hot. 90+ degrees all the way up to 5000'.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Very nice, easy trail to run. The Joshua tree forest is beautiful and so is the canyon! There are a few rocky areas that any stock truck should be able to clear, some sharp turns and narrow areas where a longer wheel base truck may end up with some pin striping, but not too bad. I did it in a 1999 Mitsubishi Montero on 33's and had no issues.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I visited this trail for the first time in a 4x4 Extended Cab Silverado. I had to turn back at around 10 mile marker when the turns got really sharp. There was no way to make some turns when I had to deal with both the rocks on the road and the tight turns. The first 10 miles are definitely fun and easy. Just be prepared to turn around when driving a longer vehicle.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Great scenic trail! We got to experience right after snow had hit the mountains, which made the joshua tree forest even more magical. There was only one rocky obstacle that required a little oomph to get over (JK w/2.5" lift on 35"s), but that may have been because everything was still wet.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Great trail and scenic. There are about 3 rocky obstacles I found to be a little more difficult than I expected. Needed some one to spot me. Ran with my stock rubicon and a stock Tacoma OR. A little more clearance would have made the trail a bit easier. The best part was the Joshua Tree forest.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran this trail in my Zj into big bear with my buddy who ran a 2017 taco on km3s. We didn’t make it there until it was dark but from what I could see it seemed like a beautiful trail with plenty of fun obstacles. I underestimated how long the trail actually was and ended up using 10 gallons of spare fuel. I’m definitely going to run this trail again during the daylight

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Been running this trail for years. As with many trails in the area, it seems to change just a little bit every year. This might be the 5th or 6th time I ran this trail this summer/fall and the water just started flowing again. I love seeing the springs flow. Anyway, we jumped out and ran motino really quick before heading back over to the springs for a relaxing lunch. Love this trail. #FalkenTires

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran the trail as part of a Motino and Rattlesnake Canyon day. Such a great combo for trails. We did our normal and had lunch at the springs. Check out the fish, but this time we spent the extra time and went to the cabins. Haven't done that in a long time. So cool... The trail was torn up a little. Still an accurate rating, that is a stock 2wd high ground clearance could likely do the full trail, with help from airing down and a locker in spots. The trail was softer than normal which made it sort of rough in spots. But all in all the trail is extremely beautiful and perfect for a new group of wheelers. #FalkenTires

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Ran this trail from Johnson Valley up to Burns Canyon in a completely stock 2017 Tacoma TRD4x4OR and mostly stock 2016 Chevy Colorado Z71. Although I'd say a 4x4 vehicle is absolutely necessary, the trail was pretty easy for the first 10 miles with mostly loose sand and moguls. Some tight turns might scratch up the side of a full size truck, but well worth the drive with all the beautiful canyon views! At about the 10 mile mark from the Old Woman Springs turnoff is where the trail has it's first true "4" obstacle that required some good spotting to get our stock trucks through it, but we made it without hassle. Definitely looked like this obstacle took its toll on some vehicles with scattered plastic, cuts in the rocks, and oil spots visible. Another mile up the trail was another "4" obstacle that involved a tight turn for our trucks while rock crawling over some large and loose rocks. Other than those 2 obstacles though this trail was probably a 2-3 rating but those certainly made it a 4. Check out the video for a detailed report of the run from start to finish!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
First time on this trail. Absolutely beautiful drive. We drove down from Highway 38 just below Onyx Summit (2N02) through Broom flats to get to it. We took it down to Johnson Valley. I drive a lifted Tundra. It’s a little tight in a few rocky places for a long wheelbase but not difficult. We went on a Tuesday and didn’t see another soul, just cattle, quail, doves and jackrabbits.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Really great trail, ran right after it rained and it was mostly bone dry except for a part where a spring came up. Saw a few steer sitting around in the shade. The trail is mostly pretty easy, but there's few rocky areas where low range is helpful no matter which way you're running it. Very scenic and well worth the trip!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
This was my first time running this trail...and what a fantastic trail it is! From the high canyon walls to the ancient Joshua Tree forest that await you at the end of the trail - it's packed with fun things to see and also just difficult enough to keep you focused on where you are going. Interestingly, I was able to still experience the overflow from multiple natural springs that created wet spots along the trail - not sure if this is due to the recent rainfalls or if this is a normal occurrence throughout the year - but it does make for fun mud slinging. I like the fact that the end of this trail puts you on Burns Canyon, which is also another great trail that leads to many other ancillary trails like Tip Top Mountain, Heartbreak Ridge and Sidewinder Canyon.

Questions & Answers (3)

Q: Tacoma 2wd with locker. Can it make through this trail ?
–David (06/08/2019)
A: Possibly, not guaranteed. You might need to use some momentum in spots if you can make it.
–Josh Noesser (06/08/2019)
Q: What's the recommended clearance for Rattlesnake Canyon? I have a Jeep Cherokee 4X4.
–Kelly (03/10/2018)
A: A stock Cherokee has enough clearance... There are a few spots you will have to pick a line through. But a stock 4x4 can do Rattlesnake Canyon. 5-8 Inches is more than enough.
–Josh Noesser (03/10/2018)
Q: can i drive 2/w nisson xtetta up rattlesnake canyon
–bill wrigjt (03/09/2017)
A: I wouldn't recommend it. There are a few spots where ground clearance is required and 4wd would help a lot. The chances of getting stuck or broke are much higher in a 2wd. I would recommend 3N16 or Gold Fever Trail for 2wd vehicles.
–Josh Noesser (03/09/2017)

Writer Information

Josh Noesser

Mapping Crew - California

Joshua Noesser grew up in Southern California but has lived in different parts of the country during his young adult life. Josh was first turned to four wheeling when he road with one of his friends dad up Surprise Canyon in the Panamint Valley at age14. After nearly 3 different roll overs later and a half dozen intense waterfalls, Josh was hooked. At 16 he purchased his first Jeep a CJ 7 and by 17 was putting his first locker in it. Currently, Josh is the owner and CEO of Nybble, an IT Solutions Company based in Orange County, California. Nybble isn't your normal IT company where everyone stays in and plays video games. Nybble's average company trip is out on the trails since a good amount of his staff enjoy wheeling too. As Josh likes to say, he offers the only IT Company with the ability to provide services in extreme locations. "If you want a server at the top of The Hammers, we will take care of that for you." Today you can find Josh out on the trail behind the wheel in one of his three different off-road vehicles. See the vehicles below for more information. If you ever run into Josh, please say high, he is a very friendly person and is always happy to have a new person join the group.