Rattlesnake Canyon Trail is located in the Mojave Desert, San Bernardino County
Rattlesnake Canyon Trail Information.
Visitors to the Trail: Please be aware of access concerns in the area. Cattle have been grazing in the canyon for the last 100 years. The rancher asks that you do not disturb the cattle watering there.
Location and Terrain
Rattlesnake Canyon, located in San Bernardino County California, runs from Hwy 247, 18.22 miles east of the four-way stop in Lucerne Valley to Burns Canyon Rd (Just east of Forest Service Rd 2N02). At the trailhead on the desert floor at Hwy 247 the elevation is 3,102 ft. above sea level. The trail gradually climbs to 5,750 ft. above sea level.
Photo left and above: Trail Entrance by Mitch Moody. The trail runs through cattle grazing lands. The entire canyon is within this grazing area. Billy Mitchell the rancher is very gracious to travelers crossing his ranch and will usually stop and talk to the people passing through. His cattle and horses have been injured by off-roaders traveling too fast and hitting the livestock. He will explain the situation and ask everyone to drive slowly through the canyon and watch for cattle. He asks that when you encounter cattle blocking the trail, if you will stop for a few minutes and let your engine idle, the cattle will move out of your way and they won’t be distressed.
Photo right: Jeep on the trail by Mitch Moody. The trail also runs through the Bighorn mountain Wilderness area. Thanks to the efforts of Billy Mitchell, the trail was designated an Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) corridor. Please note that all the side canyons are in the wilderness areas and are not open to motorized vehicles.
Rattlesnake Canyon Trail History
The canyon has a rich history. John Fremont in his expedition traveled though this route after leaving Old Woman Springs. There are mines dating back to the Spaniards and from early in the 20th century. Cattle have been grazing in the canyon for the last 100 years. When traveling through, ponder those rugged men who have gone before you and respect them by respecting the canyon.
Photo left: Jeep on the trail by Next Step Designs. As the trail winds through the canyon the eco-system gradually changes Creosote & Joshua Tree flatlands of Johnson Valley to Pinion Pines. There are several springs in the canyon. The largest being Rattlesnake Spring has been developed with watering troughs for the cattle. The rancher asks that you do not disturb the cattle watering there.
The route is mostly a sandy wash that seems to change with every rain storm. It can be traversed by any four-wheel drive vehicle but caution is advised because there are some rocky areas that must be crossed. There are also some “rock garden” areas that more skilled drivers in better equipped vehicles may want to test their skills on.
Topographic Map and GPX of the Trail
Map courtesy of Doug Guimond - KI6YXR
GPX from Jeepster89YJ
Text written by Roger