There's an enchanting feeling to being out in the wilderness — and luckily, you don't have to travel far to experience the greatness of the outdoors. World-renowned rock climber Reinhold Messner once said, "The most beautiful mountain in the world is not the highest, or the most difficult. It is personal." We make a personal connection when we explore even the smallest parks.
This summer, step away from your hectic everyday life and try climbing. While the East Bay is home to many indoor climbing gyms, take advantage of the sunshine and beautiful weather to experience this region's many outdoor rock-climbing parks. Pack some climbing equipment, a couple of sandwiches, and some water, and get ready for an adventure-filled day on the rocks. Here are my favorite destinations for outdoor rock climbing and bouldering.
Indian Rock Park
950 Indian Rock Ave., Berkeley
These boulders, nestled deep in the charming Berkeley hills, are rich with history: The Ohlone Indians used them as meeting spots, and early mountaineering pioneers practiced their skills here. Indian Rock — one of the more well-known rock parks in the area — is a great place to hone your technique. The park consists of four massive boulders that are mounded together, each two to three stories high, and features walls and routes for climbers of all levels (although beginners may have a hard time climbing up the wall without rope). The rocks are beautiful and smooth, but there are plenty of crags to help your climb. At the top of the boulder is a breathtaking view of the bay and San Francisco skyline, which you can also access via a carved-out staircase. This kid-friendly park is just a few blocks away from Solano Avenue.
Remillard and Cragmont Rock Parks
80 Poppy Ln., Berkeley; 960 Regal Rd., Berkeley
A couple of blocks east of Indian Rock — and much more more secluded —Remillard Park and Cragmont Rock Park are only a few blocks away from each other, and both feature beautiful rock formations. The boulders are better suited for intermediate to advanced climbers, but beginners can always practice at the bottom of the formations. As always, be courteous to neighbors and follow leave-no-trace practices to preserve these precious rock parks.
Castle Rock at Mount Diablo State Park
South Gate Rd., Walnut Creek
The rocks at Mount Diablo accommodate different skill levels and various climbing techniques — including trad, top roping, and bouldering. According to MountainProject.com, the rocks are sandstone, making "sport bolts sketchy, and some of the trad routes absolutely terrifying." As a beginner, I've practiced at the bottom of the rocks thus far. In due time, I'll definitely muster up the courage the climb these tall beauties!
Little Yosemite in Sunol Regional Wilderness
1895 Geary Rd., Sunol
Sunol Regional Wilderness is a vast park filled with acres of green pastures, cows, and creeks. Expect to spend an entire day at the park because the two rock-climbing spots are a ways away from the parking lot. First, there is Indian Joe Cave Rocks, a giant basalt outcrop with high walls that are great for top-roping. To get to the caves, take the Indian Joe Nature Trail to the Indian Joe Creek Trail. It's a hilly area, so be prepared to do some hiking before you arrive at your destination.
The second climbing destination is Little Yosemite. The big boulders filling this (currently dry) creek will have you working out your glutes while sharpening your bouldering skills. To get to Little Yosemite, you can take a few routes. If you want to enjoy a longer hike, start from the Visitor Center, go past the wooden bridge, make a right, go straight along Indian Joe Nature Trail, then make a right onto Canyon View Trail. You can also take a quicker route by parking in far eastern side of the park and walking along the paved trail until you reach Little Yosemite on your right.