You don’t usually think of the Bay Area as one of California’s biggest climbing destinations. But if you live here like me and you don’t have time to escape to Yosemite or Bishop every weekend, you need to know some local routes to keep your fingers strong. I’ll break it down by location to show you the Bay Area’s finest.
- Beaver Street Wall: Just east of Corona Heights Park, the Beaver Street Wall is a small area with limited but challenging routes. The rock is tough on the hands and nearly impossible to smear. There are several climbs that are topropeable and some could be climbed trad if you’re feeling ballsy.
2. Cliff House Boulders: At the north end of Ocean Beach, the Cliff House Boulders are a group of high-ball boulder problems. You’ll need to be aware of the tides unless you want a soupy landing. Not the toughest of climbs, but you can definitely bring some IPA’s and a frisbee down and kick it on the beach after.
3. Glen Canyon: Located within Glen Canyon Park, the Glen Canyon bouldering area is the best and most varied spot in the city to climb. There are some bolts that make some toproping possible but definitely bring your slings and trad gear. The Radiolarian rock is sometimes sharp, so bring the tape as well.
4. Indian Rock: This popular Berkeley hangout offers a ton of bouldering problems to solve, but you’ll have to compete with a lot of folks. You’ll have some great views while you climb and the ground is covered in chipped bark, so you gumbies don’t get too hurt without a crash pad.
5. Mt. Diablo State Park: Southeast of Walnut Creek, Mt. Diablo climbing area offers trad, toprope, bouldering and sport routes for $7 per car. Fun for the whole family! You’ll be climbing mostly sandstone, so the sports bolts are sketchy but fun for smearing and edging moves.
South Bay & Silicon Valley
6. Castle Rock: Nestled in the Santa Cruz Mountains, Castle Rock is pretty much the best climbing in the Bay Area. It offers sport, trad, bouldering and toprope problems. It’ll cost you a couple bucks to get into the park, so plan accordingly. Be ready for some of the best bouldering on the west coast!
7. Mickey’s Beach: A mile south of Stinson Beach lies Mickey’s Beach where you can find a variety of technical oceanside climbs. You’ve got to be aware of the day’s tides, which need to be +3 or less for the problems to be accessible. Keep your eyes peeled for some bare cheeks, this is a notorious nudist hangout!
8. Ring Mountain: Up in the Marin Headlands, Ring Mountain is made up of a collection of boulders ranging from 20-50°. There is a mix of bouldering and toprope, but bring long slings (about 40’) and nuts to anchor. Come from sunrise to sunset for some outrageous views of the bay.
9. The Nut Tree Boulders: Just above Vacaville, The Nut Tree Boulders are basalt boulders that are about 10-20’ high. Stay out of there in the summer months or you’ll burn to a crisp. Winter, late fall and early spring are the best times to climb these black beasts.
10. Mount St. Helena: Overlooking Napa Valley, Mount St. Helena offers some of the most scenic climbing in the Bay. There is a ton of trad climbing if you’re willing to hike, but there are three sport climbing areas for you lazy climbers like me.
So there you have it, your top 10 climbing destinations of the Bay Area! Be sure to always be respectful of the wild places we love. The only thing more important that having an awesome climb is making sure those rocks and mountains are there for our kids to enjoy. Shout out to Andy Laakmann and Nick Wilder for creating Mountain Project, which provides all the need-to-know details about these climbs and many more.
Did I leave out your favorite rock climbing area? Be sure to leave us a comment and let me know. Keep crushing those mountains y’all!