Jailhouse Rock

The Access Fund acquired a conservation easement and access easement on the Jailhouse Rock property in 2010 when access was threatened by an impending housing development. Although the property is still privately owned, the Access Fund-held easements guarantee climbing access into perpetuity. Jailhouse Rock boasts up to 200 feet of overhanging amphitheater on the western face of a basalt lava flow known locally as Table Rock. Jailhouse Rock is a major resource for the Bay Area, Yosemite, and Sacramento climbing communities during the fall, winter, and spring months when other sport crags are covered in snow.

Although popular, climbers had previously kept a “no guidebook, no publicity” policy at the request of the private landowners, who have quietly allowed climbing access over the last 12 years.

In 2010, an impending subdivision which included the trailhead and initial approach trail threatened future access to Jailhouse. Plans to further subdivide the land adjacent to Jailhouse could have blocked access even further, since the trail would need to cross multiple new lots purchased by private landowners who may be less inclined to grant public access.

With the future access to Jailhouse at risk, local climber and long-time access supporter Tom Addison contacted the Access Fund and the landowner for help. After several months of working with the landowners, the Access Fund reached an agreement to protect Jailhouse Rock through a complex conservation development partnership. A short-term $100,000 Access Fund Land Conservation Campaign loan secured a conservation and access easement, ensuring permanent protection and access to Jailhouse Rock.


Located near Sonora, California, Jailhouse Rock is in western Tuolumne County above the Stanislaus River between Lake Tulloch and New Melones Reservoirs. It is approximately two hours east of the Bay Area, and about an hour and a half west of Yosemite. An access easement provides access to the 75-acre conservation easement, which includes the developed cliffline, a half mile of waterfront, and a buffer along the top of the mesa.

Driving directions: From the Bay Area, take I-580E and continue on I-205E. Take I-5N to CA-120E. 24 miles after downtown Oakdale, turn left on O’Byrnes Ferry Rd/ CO Rd E15 (this is less than one mile before the Yosemite Junction, where Highways 108 and 120 diverge). Drive 3.7 miles and turn right at a double gate. DO NOT TURN INTO THE "SHOTGUN CREEK ESTATES" GATE (this is private property). Continue past Shotgun Creek Estates to the following double gate on the right hand side. Enter the gate code and close the gate behind the vehicle. Do not park outside this gate at any time as the owner does not want to draw attention to this gate. Turn left and follow the dirt road ¼ of a mile to a fenced parking area on the right and close the gate after entry. Otherwise, your vehicle may become a tasty treat for a curious horse.


  • Land Steward: Tom Addison,
  • Area Guidebooks: None
  • Conservation Easement: Download PDF
  • Rules & Restrictions:
  • No dogs on the property
  • Close all gates (typically there are over 200 horses on the property, and it is critical that they do not escape)
  • No amplified music
  • No fires
  • No camping at the cliff, trailhead, or anywhere in the vicinity
  • Access allowed only from sun-up to one hour after sundown
  • No littering
  • Seasonal raptor closures on a portion of cliff line may be posted if there is active raptor nesting.
  • Do not park outside the gate alongside O’Byrnes Ferry Road
  • When entering or leaving the property, be aware that there are two locks. One is the climbers' lock, and the other is used by other users of the property (e.g., cowboys). The locks must be locked together as shown. DO NOT lock the gate in a way that makes the other lock not functional. Sequence is chain to lock to other lock to chain.