Climbing Oregon’s Honeycombs Crag

All the beta for easy-access sport climbing that’s just a stone’s throw from Medford.

Thanks to its high-quality stone, short approaches, and free camping, Honeycombs is one of Southwest Oregon’s favorite local sport crags

About two hours north of Medford and just shy of the Umpqua National Forest (an adventure playground in its own right), the ’Combs are a collection of crinkled volcanic domes, which peek up above the trees like a handful of massive stone beehives. As their name suggests, they’re sprinkled with fissures and pockets, which give them a unique honeycomb-like texture and a style of climbing that may remind some visitors of Smith Rock.  

Most of the routes at Honeycombs are bolted single-pitch, though there are a handful of multi-pitch options, as well. The vast majority are moderates—5.10 or below—making this a perfect spot for both new leaders and seasoned veterans looking for a fun romp in the shade. 

Recommended Routes 

The Honeycombs area has over 60 climbing routes. Here’s just a small sampling of a few local favorites.

Stone Ship (5.0)

The climbing may be easy, but this scrambly adventure route makes a perfect introduction to the area for climbers of all levels. Top out the feature, tiptoe across the knife-edge ridge, and descend through Secret Cleft for the full experience.

Candy Shop (5.7)

Enjoy consistent bolting and continuous holds on solid, copper-colored rock. This vertical 65-foot sport route is a great warmup, as well as an area classic in its own right. 

Taste of Honey (5.9)

Meet one of Honeycombs’ best multi-pitch climbs. Tackle all three pitches to top out the route and soak in gorgeous views of the valley below.  

One Tuff Cookie (5.10 b/c)

This line follows steep, heroic climbing up a tsunami wave of rock. Solid holds and a stunning position make this one a local favorite. 

Seasons

Its high elevation, proximity to the North Umpqua River, and shaded aspects keep the rock here cool, making the Honeycombs a great escape from sweltering crags like Smith Rock. Because peregrine falcons use this area as a critical nesting site through June, most climbers opt to visit between mid-July and September.

Getting There

Honeycombs is located northwest of Roseburg, Ore. To get there from Medford, take Interstate 5 north to Exit 124. Hang a right at the exit to head into Roseburg, then pick up state Route 138 going east. After about 23.5 miles, you’ll take a left on BLM RD 26-2-7, which heads uphill just before the aptly named Hill Creek. Reset your odometer here. 

Follow the BLM road, bearing left at your first fork, then right at your second fork to stay on BLM Rd 23-0. When your odometer says 4.0 miles, you should see the access road to the crag on your right. Park here but be careful not to block the yellow gate. The coordinates for the North Comb are 43.32770, -122.95854

Camping 

While dispersed camping is allowed on nearby Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, it’s prohibited on the private property surrounding the Honeycombs. Be sure to camp between the northern edge of North Comb and the BLM road. (The Gaia GPS phone app has good public/private land and satellite maps if you’re unsure.) There are also a few established camping areas south and east of the crag, just within the borders of Umpqua National Forest.

Special Etiquette

The Honeycombs area belongs to a private landowner who has historically been friendly toward climbers. However, maintaining a respectful relationship is critical to ensuring future access.

  1. Practice Leave No Trace ethics, and pick up all waste (including yours and your dog’s; a W.A.G. bag should be a staple part of your kit). 
  2. Avoid open fires, firearms, lit cigarettes, and other sources of ignition beyond backpacking stoves. (Wildfires have been a big issue here in recent years.) 
  3. Be mindful of where you park, and be careful not to block gates or driveways. 

In many years, the Forbidden Comb and North Comb serve as nesting sites for peregrine falcons, which were once critically endangered in Oregon. If you hear about recent peregrine activity, spot nests, or encounter birds exhibiting protective behavior, steer clear of these zones. Local climbers, online forums, and the Southwest Oregon Climbers Coalition are all good sources of information about recent nesting. 

Local Tip 

When you’re done climbing for the day, retrace your route back down to state Route 138—there’s a great swimming hole across the road from the turnoff. And if the river looks really enticing, hit up North Umpqua Outfitters just down the street. They offer guided rafting trips throughout the summer. 

Guidebook Resource

Rock Climbing Western Oregon: Umpqua by Greg Orton 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.

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