5 Bay Area Climbing Spots

Posted by Sara Kondo

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Caught the climbing bug? Spend an evening at any one of the city’s climbing gyms, and you’ll see you’re not alone! While a gym session is a great workout, nothing beats getting outside. For those weekends Yosemite or Tahoe trips aren’t feasible, the Bay Area holds a few local spots worth playing on.

Note: This is a rough guide, with only general information about crags. For routes and specifics, I recommend getting a guide book and/or downloading Mountain Project.

Also, if you really enjoy climbing, consider supporting the Access Fund, which protects climbing areas!

Photo by David McSpadden.

1. Castle Rock

Castle Rock is located in Saratoga, about a one hour drive from San Francisco. Castle Rock rock formations are fun, you’ll find plenty of little “caves” and “windows.” This crag offers trad, sport, and top rope, but many find that bouldering is their favorite here.

After your climb: You can also hike the trails or explore the wineries of Saratoga. End the day with dinner at La Fondue (you earned it!) Ask your Scout to get you a reservation!

Photo by Betsy Dorsett.

2. Mount Saint Helena

Mount Saint Helena is a lovely day or weekend trip, about an hour and forty minutes from San Francisco. You’ll have to hike a bit to get to the climbs, but it’s definitely worth it! There are tons of fun sport routes and a great view overlooking Napa Valley.

After your climb: If you want to spend the night in the area, Harbin Hot Springs has natural spring pools, and is tucked away in the woods. There are cottages to rent, and even a camping option. Reservations must be made in advance if you’d like to stay overnight. (Note: this spot is clothing optional!)

*As of 9/15 Harbin and surrounding area is affected by the Valley Fire. We’ll be keeping everyone affected in our thoughts. You can donate through the Red Cross here.

Photo by Sara Kondo.

3. Berkeley Hills

Berkeley Hills is a great spot for beginners, or for those who only have an afternoon to get outside. There is bouldering, top rope and some sport too! Check out Cragmont, Indian Rock, Remillard Park, Great Stone Face Rock Park, and Grizzly Peak Boulders. These are in residential areas, but on weekends you’ll most likely run into other climbers.

After your climb: Zachary’s Pizza is always a good idea, they have ridiculously yummy deep dish pizza. Also not too far is UC Berkeley area, which is always fun to roam around.

Photo by James Gaither.

4. Glen Park

Glen Park is great if you are looking for a really, really local spot to boulder. It’s no Bishop, but it’s great to check out at least once. It’s located in Glen Park Canyon which is a beautiful 70 acre park, that will make you forget that you are in San Francisco.

After your climb: Grab a drink at Glen Park Station, a great neighborhood bar. (Not the BART station!)

Photo by Scott Hernandez.

5. Beaver Street Wall

Beaver Street Wall is a slick wall near the Castro district and you might hear many mixed things about from other climbers. Some simply enjoy the fact that you can climb in the middle of the city. Some use it as a place to practice aid climbing. Whatever your fancy, Beaver Street is a place to top rope and still remain in the city (and not be indoors at the gym.)

After your climb: Incase you are left wanting more of a workout (Beaver Street is a small spot!) check out a yoga class at the near by Yoga Tree Castro, they have wonderful instructors.

*Please remember to be safe outdoors! If you are just learning the ropes, and do not have an experienced friend to accompany you, please think about taking a rock climbing class. There are clinics from beginner basics to ice climbing!

Ask your Scout for more information and help booking a class!

About the author: Sara is a Bay Area Native and has been climbing for seven years. She’s climbed all over from Utah to Spain, but when she’s home these spots are places she and her friends enjoy!

Photo by David McSpaddenBetsy Dorsett, Sara Kondo, James Gaither, & Scott Hernandez.

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