Average geologic slip rates along the central Garlock fault, in eastern California, are thought to have been relatively steady at 5–7 mm/yr since at least the Late Pleistocene, yet present-day rates inferred from geodetic velocity fields are indistinguishable from zero. We evaluate the possibility of non-steady slip over millennial timescales using displaced Late Holocene alluvium along the central Garlock fault in Pilot Knob Valley. Truncation of a Late Holocene alluvial fan deposit against a shutter ridge requires a minimum of 30–37 m of displacement since deposition of the fan; maximum allowable displacement is 43–50 m. The extent of soil development atop the fan surface and optically stimulated luminescence ages bracket fan deposition between 3.5 and 4.5 ka. Together, these data require that slip rates during the Late Holocene were ∼7–14 mm/yr, with a preferred rate of ∼11–13 mm/yr. Our results, in conjunction with previous estimates of displacement over the past ∼15 ka, require significant temporal variations in strain release along the Garlock fault and confirm previous suggestions that interactions among fault systems in eastern California give rise to alternating periods of fault activity and quiescence.