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Home >> Climbing Areas >> San Francisco Bay Area Saturday, July 13, 2024 

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Northern Cal Tips
Intro to rock climbing in the Bay

The SuperTopos
Our Nor Cal Bouldering guidebook
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Photos and beta of Bouldering Areas

Nor Cal Beta
When to climb 
Check the weather

Jesse Bonin on the mega classic Pimp Juice!
Photo: Brenna Fischer

Nor Cal Bouldering Info
As a proud Northern California native I am a bit partial to my local stone so I will try not to go on and on about how indescribably wonderful I think it is – rather I will just state the facts. For starters, we’ve got the rugged and wild Pacific Coastline that stretches the entire length of Nor Cal. Starting just a few miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge, you will first come to a variety of different rock types on sandy beaches at Mickey’s and Stinson Beaches in Marin County. Traveling further north, you find the solid schist around Jenner. Just north of Jenner, where the San Andreas Fault Line crosses the Pacific Coast Highway, the variety of rock type stops and only sandstone is found all the way up into the central Mendocino Coast. Two of the best of these sandstone areas are the popular Fort Ross and the vast Salt Point with its endless miles of Tafoni sandstone. The rock type changes back to a random mix near the mysterious Lost Coast in northern Mendocino County, not to be confused with the far north Lost Rocks, which will both remain lost. Between the Lost Coast and the Lost Rocks are the rocky beaches of Humboldt County, where you find a tantalizing mix of green, grey, and black boulders at Moonstone Beach and Houda Point near Arcata. Here is a quote from an old geology book: “The rocks on the Pacific Coastline of Northern California are some of the most bizarre and unique in the world.” That pretty much says it. You can boulder on polished green and blue schist rocks with sharp crimpers at Goat Rock State Park near Jenner, for example, and then just a short and scenic 30-minute drive north up the Pacific Coast Highway and you’ll get to pull down on the gritty-textured, pocketed sandstone at Salt Point State Park. That’s just the coast.

When to climb
You can boulder year round at most areas below 6,000' feet. Areas above 6,000' feet are good once the snow melts: usually May-November. Each area has its own sweet time to visit. Northern California is full of many microclimates and the weather at each area changes drastically throughout the year and often throughout the day. It can be 50 degrees cold and foggy at Stinson Beach and at the same moment 100 degrees hot and muggy at Vacaville. Short of a massive winter storm, there is usually always some place in the Northern California with good bouldering conditions. We have done our best to in the Nor Cal Bouldering Guide provide an overview of the weather for each specific area but it will still take some time to understand the ever-changing conditions and be able to plan your bouldering accordingly.

Please help support this site by checking out our Nor Cal Bouldering guide There is a free sample download here

Anthony does a lap on the Triple Cracks.
Photo: Summit

Sonora - Columbia
Columbia College, Columbia State Park
Gas/Food: Downtown Columbia has gas/food. Sonora is just a few miles away to the south on CA-49 or Angels Camp is just a few miles north on CA-49 and both have gas/food.
Gear/Gyms: Get gear at Sierra Nevada Adventure Company (209-532-5621) and Indoor climbing is nearby at Class 5 Fitness (209-532-5556).
Camping/Lodging: Camping in Columbia can be found at the 49er RV Park (209-532-4978) for $49 a night and lodging downtown Columbia at City Hotel/Fallon Hotel (209-532-1479) or at the Columbia Gem Motel (209-532-4508). Sonora and Jamestown to the south on CA-49 and along CA-108 have camping/lodging and north on CA-49 Angels Camp has tent sites starting at $17 per night.

Sonora Pass
Pump Rocks, Donnell Vista, Chipmunk Flat, Sonora Pass Boulders, Switchback Boulders
Gas/Food: The nearest gas and food are west on CA-108 at Strawberry or the Dardanelles. Food can also be found to the east in Bridgeport on CA-395, south of the CA-108 intersection.
Gear/Gyms: Sonora area climbing gear/outdoor gear: Sierra Nevada Adventure Company (209-532-5621) and Indoor climbing is nearby at Class 5 Fitness (209-532-5556).
Camping/Lodging: Camping at the boulders may not be legal. There are many excellent campgrounds in the area just to the east or west on CA-108. The nearest lodging west on CA-108 is at the Strawberry Inn in Strawberry or along CA-108 on the way back to Sonora. Camp or lodge on CA-108 at the Dardanelles or on CA-395 near the CA-108 intersection.

East Side
395 Boulder
Gas/Food: To the north Walker is only a few minutes drive on CA-395 and to the south Bridgeport on CA-395 is only about 20 minutes away. Both have gas and food.
Gear/Gyms: The nearest climbing gym is Rocksport (775-352-7673) about an hour and a half north in Reno.
Camping/Lodging: The most popular campground in the area is just north on CA-395 at Topaz Lake Park (775-266-3343). Lodging is on CA-395 near Walker/Coleville at Meadowcliff Resort (530-495-2255).

Bear Valley Boulder Bash.
Photo: Summit

Central Sierras
Bear Valley - Hellís Kitchen
Gas/Food: Bear Valley has a general store with gas and food.
Gear/Gyms: Mountain Adventure Seminars (209-753-6556) carries the essentials in Bear Valley. Modesto has a gear shop and indoor climbing at Stonehenge (209-521-3644).
Camping/Lodging: From Hellís Kitchen/Spicer Reservoir Rd the nearest camping is at Big Meadow Campground about 1.7 miles west on CA-4 and only about 0.2 miles east of the Big Meadow Picnic Area Boulders. To the east of Hellís Kitchen it is about 3.7 miles to Bear Valley, which has lodging and camping. Just a few miles further east of Bear Valley on CA-4 is Lake Alpine, which also has great camping, fishing and sight-seeing.

Tahoe - South Lake Tahoe
Kirkwood, Momma Cat Boulder, The Secrets, Lovers Leap, Flagpole Peak, Pie Shop, Bliss
- See the South Lake Tahoe Climbing Page

Tahoe - North Lake Tahoe
Old County, Castle Boulder, Donner - Split Rock, Donner - Grouse Slab, Donner - The Saddle, Rainbow
Gas/Food: gas, food and supplies are in Truckee, all around the north shore of Lake Tahoe or in South Lake Tahoe
Gear/Gyms: For outdoor/climbing gear and an indoor bouldering gym go to Tahoe Sports Hub in Truckee (530-582-4510) or High Altitude Fitness in Incline Village, NV (775-831-4212). Get gear in Tahoe City at Alpenglow Sports (530-583-6917) and The Back Country (530-582-0909).
Camping/Lodging: Free camping at the Castle Boulder or pay camping near Truckee at Donner Memorial Park (Split Rock Boulders are inside the campground)

Warming up on the Jug Haul at Loon Lake.
Photo: Summit

Central Sierras/Central Valley East
Loon Lake, The Bar
Gas/Food: gas/food are in downtown Auburn, Placerville or Rocklin just off of I-80.
Gear/Gyms: Get gear at REI Roseville (916-724-6750). The nearest climbing gyms are: Granite Arch in Rancho Cordova (916-852-7625) and Pipeworks in Sacramento (916-341-0100) and Rocknasium in Davis (530-757-2902).
Camping/Lodging: Auburn KOA is just a few miles north of downtown Auburn (530-885-0990) and Folsom Lake Recreation Area (916-988-0205) is also nearby both areas. Black Oak Stumpy Meadows Campground is south on CA-49 from The Bar about 15 miles from Cool on CA-193 in Georgetown (881-333-4312). Auburn and Rocklin both have ample lodging just minutes from the rocks.

Central Valley/North East - Chico Area
Bald Rock, Feather River
Gas/Food: Quincy is found to the east and has gas and food and on the corner of Caribou Rd alongside the Feather River is a small seasonal store with cold drinks and food. To the west are Oroville and Chico - both have plenty of gas, grocery stores, and restaurants.
Gear/Gyms: Mountain Sports in Chico (530-345-5011) for climbing/outdoor gear.
Camping/Lodging: Nice campgrounds are found along Caribou Rd just off CA-70 a few miles east of the Feather River bouldering areas. Free Camping is available at Bald Rock unless otherwise posted. Lodging is available in Chico and Oroville to the west and Quincy to the east.

North East - Lassen Area
Eagle Peak, Devastated Area
Gas/Food: Just west of the South Gate entrance to the park on CA-36 is the small town of Mineral with gas and food. Just west of the North Gate entrance to the park on CA-44 is Viola with gas and food.
Gear/Gyms: For climbing/outdoor gear go to Hermits Hut in Redding (530-222-4511) or The Fifth Season (530-926-3606) in Shasta City.
Camping/Lodging: Backcountry camping is allowed in the park (wilderness permits are required). Call Park Headquarters to get one in advance (530-595-4444) or stop by a ranger/entrance station. Many good campgrounds are all over the park and are usually open from June to September. Call Park Headquarters for more info. For lodging outside of the park on the north side Viola and Shingletown are the closest towns with lodging and on the south side Chester near Lake Almanor on CA-36/CA-89 has lodging: Cedar Lodge Motel/RV Park (530-258-2904)

Bald Rock sunset.
Photo: Summit

North West
Castle Lake
Gas/Food: About 10 miles away Shasta City has many gas stations, stores, restaurants and fast food.
Gear/Gyms: For climbing gear go to Hermits Hut in Redding (530-222-4511).
Camping/Lodging: Forest Service campgrounds are about a half mile down the road from Castle Lake with Portable Restrooms but NO DRINKING WATER (530-926-4511) - Camping is also available at nearby Lake Siskiyou and lodging in Mt. Shasta City off I-5.

Central Valley West
Vacaville, Putah Creek
- See Bay Area Page

Bay Area - East Bay (Berkeley)
Berkeley - Indian Rock, Berkeley - Mortar Rock, Berkeley - Remilard Park, Berkeley - Grizzly Peak
- See Bay Area Page

Bay Area - San Francisco/San Jose
Glen Canyon, Castle Rock
- See Bay Area Page

Bay Area - North Bay
Ring Mountain, Mickeys Beach, Stinson Beach
- See Bay Area Page

Wine Country - Sonoma Coast
Goat Rock, Fort Ross, Salt Point
- See Bay Area Page

Wine Country - Clear Lake
Clear Lake
Gas/Food: A gas station mini-mart is on the corner of CA-29 and CA-281 and another is about halfway from CA-29 to Konocti Harbor on CA-281. Soda Bay is about 2.5 miles northwest and has a general store, dining and a harbor. Lower Lake, Lakeport and Kelseyville also have an ample supply of food and gas to choose from.
Gear/Gyms: The nearest climbing gear is at REI (707-540-9025) and Sonoma Outfitters (707-528-1920) in Santa Rosa and the nearest indoor climbing gym is Vertex in Santa Rosa (707-573-1608).
Camping/Lodging: Clear Lake State Park Campground (800-444-7275) is between Kelseyville and Soda Bay about four miles northwest of The Black Forest. Open all year. Konocti Harbor Resort (800-660-LAKE) is 1.5 miles from the Black Forest and has year round concerts, shows, fine dining, a marina and inn and spa all on the shores of the gorgeous Clear Lake.

Sean Brady on Bomb Ass Dookie.
Photo: Summit

Wine Country - Mendocino County
Squaw Rock, Dos Rios, The Falls
Gas/Food: Willits (US-101 south) or Laytonville (US-101 north) are the largest towns near Dos Rios and The Falls with 24-hour gas and food. Covelo also has a small gas/food store. The nearest gas/food to Squaw Rock is Hopland (US-101 north) or Cloverdale (US-101 south).
Gear/Gyms: The nearest climbing gear retailers to the south are Sonoma Outfitters (707-528-1920) and REI (707-540-9025) in Santa Rosa and the nearest indoor climbing gym is Vertex in Santa Rosa (707-573-1608). The nearest climbing gear retailer to the north is Adventures Edge in Arcata (707-822-4673) and the only gym to the north is Far North Climbing Gym in Arcata (707-826-9558).
Camping/Lodging: Camping at the rocks in Dos Rios is usually okay. The Falls has free camping but requires a mellow 15 minute downhill hike on a good trail. Free camping can also be found off the dirt roads in the Mendocino National Forest all around The Falls. Willits and Laytonville (about 30 minutes north or south on US-101) are the closest towns with lodging at several hotels and motels found along US-101.

North Coast
Moonstone Beach, Houda Point
Gas/Food: The Eureka/Arcata area is just a few miles south on US-101 and has plenty of gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants.
Gear/Gyms: Adventures Edge in Arcata (707-822-4673) has climbing/outdoor gear. The local gym is Far North Climbing Gym in Arcata (707-826-9558).
Camping/Lodging: Camp at Patricks Point State Park (with rock climbing and bouldering) about 15 miles north on US-101. Eureka/Arcata is just a few miles south on US-101 and offers plenty of lodging from cheap to spendy.


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