Rattlesnake Rocks is a collection of 30ft-40ft tall granite cliffs in the Blue Hills Reservation south of Boston that offers a wide range of different types of climbs in the solitude of the woods. Climbs often top out on overlooks with excellent views of the Boston skyline and surrounding forest, while the ¾ mile-long approach ensures you likely won’t be sharing the location with many other climbers. A short 20-minute drive from Boston adds to the attraction.
What Makes It Great
Variety and solitude are what make Rattlesnake Rocks stand out. In a relatively small area of cliffs you can find everything from chimneys and face climbs to cracks, overhangs, slabs, and boulders. Some climbs can be led but most are toproped. Setup a toprope on one, though, and you can easily climb something different right next door! All routes are relatively short at around 30 ft-40 ft, but that just means you can climb even more of them. The cliffs generally all face south, making this a great spring and fall destination when the air might be cool but the sun still warms up the climbs.
Try Slicer (5.7) or Jams of Joy (5.5) for some good cracks, and Double Chimney (5.5) for a fun chimney climb. The Ships Prow (5.7) really looks like a prow, and has a classic line under and to the right (starboard). If you’re up for a challenge Mulatto Arete (5.11) between the Black and White walls is about the hardest climb at the crag.
Because the climbs are right at the scenic overlooks, you can easily take a break from climbing to eat a snack at the top of crags while taking in the view of the Blue Hills and the Boston skyline. Or stretch your legs with a short jaunt along the Skyline Trail. There’s a good chance you’ll see other hikers on the trail, but you’ll probably have the climbs all to yourself.
Who is Going to Love It
Beginners will love Rattlesnake Rocks for its relatively short but fun climbs in the 5.1-5.7 range, while anyone keen on combining a hike with their climbs will be sure to have fun.
More experienced climbers looking for a quieter alternative to Quincy Quarries will find plenty of routes to challenge themselves as well with the many overhangs, cracks, and steep faces up to 5.11.
This is an excellent day-trip destination if you want to minimize driving time from town while still feeling like you’ve earned your climbs with a hike in.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Take I-93 south to exit 8 in Quincy. Follow Willard street south for ½ mile and park at the Shea Ice Rink. Hike along the blue-blazed Skyline Trail starting from the south end of the parking lot. After about ¾ mile you will reach an overlook that is the top of the climbs.
Bring some long slings for the toprope anchors to reach from the trees to the cliff edge.