Sandstone... Mmm. This Sandstone is REALLY loose, and hanging on some of the pockets makes you wonder how many more hangs the holds can withstand. The bolts in the area seemed ok a year ago... but with sandstone that can change far too quickly.
It's worth noting that Pine Canyon takes a LONG time to get into, and is a tiring experience in almost all cases. It is also REALLY hot here in the summer, and the bright sandstone and non-existent shade spots ('cept in the caves) will make this place a real cooker on a sunny summer afternoon. Hey, that said... There are few places in the bay area offering so much local isolation with surrounding city for a background.
Castle Rock is a really long rock, so there are loads of top-rope problems on the south side of the rock. Offering insanely loose rock on routes up to 100 feet, often times a 5.6 climb will turn into a 5.10. But you're on a toprope, so if climbing gets too hard, you can always bail out to the left or right. There are also a selection of topropes on the backside on rock that isn't quite so loose, though the climbs are shorter, from 25' to 50'. The top of this rock is really pointed, so there are dozens of places to put a top anchor on the holes, rocks, and trees in the top area. Although a pain in the butt to get to, this is a fairly good place to bring up someone's confidence in falling. Something will break, and they will fall. The climbs are long and often easy (5.6 - 5.11+) yet sustained.
Flintstone Rock can be a great place for lunch if you're climbing in the Pine Cliffs area, as you can often find shelter from the blistering east bay sun under it's large overhang. Because of the fragile nature of this rock, bring long slings for topropes(20'+), don't climb this area for at least 3 days after a rain storm, and be careful of loose bolts and anchors, as many of them cannot withstand too many serious falls. The rock itself offers a variety of climbing, despite the fact that presently only two climbs have been developed on it. Yabba Dabba Dudes (5.10a) is on a very chossy face that is on a large portion of rock that has cracked off the main cliff. The chimney climb that ascends this crack is the other route, Pigeon Tunnel. To the left of these two routes is an enormous overhung cave with tons of features. I would assume that the difficulty of top-roping this area has served as a barrier against further development.
Pagoda Rock is the western face of two rocks (the other being "The Rock of Ages" to the east) with a narrow alley between them. From the west the Pagoda can be noticed as having a very large face that is about 80' at the leftmost side and spans to a length of about 150' on it's right side. There are four routes on the Pagoda last I was there one of which is an aid route up the shortest side of the rock at the top of the alley between it and Rock of Ages. The other routes are on the western face ranging from 5.7 - 5.10. The best way to approach The Pagoda is from the stage road in Pine Canyon. There is a wash that leads directly up to it and is relatively easy to spot from the road. The other way to reach the Pagoda is from the state park road and walk down to it from the Pine Canyon ridgeline. If climbing on Castle Rock, there is a diagonal trail with mixed bush whacking to arrive at the Pagoda as well.
The Rock of Ages is found just behind the Pagoda. It has a large distinctive cave half way up the wall. Approach form its left side and through the narrow passageway between the Rock of Ages and the Pagoda. The rock can range form crumbly and loose to solid and clean. The base of this wall is a great place to hang out when the temps soar. You can always find shade and a nice cool breeze comes up from the bottom of the canyon. This rock sees the most traffic in the canyon, but you'll still be lucky to see anyone.
Deliverance Rock is currently home to two climbs, a 5.11b and a 5.12a, though there is potential for several other tougher routes. Being part of Pine Canyon means that this is indeed a very annoying area to get into. Deliverance rock will add to that annoyance, as there is no good trail established to access the rock from the other climbs. This rock faces north, and cannot be seen from any other direction, so without investigation or the first approach, you would have a hard time knowing that it's there. The good news about Deliverance rock is that the climbing faces north, and is also partially shaded, so this will offer some relief from the hot sun. It is also slightly overhanging, which is a difference from most of the other established routes in the area. Also, the rock here is as solid as in any of the boyscout rocks, which cannot be said about any of the other rocks in the Pine Canyon area.
Miller Pillar lies below Flintstone Rock about 200 yards and is not set far in from the Stage Road. It is back and left of the very large rock outcropping that sits very close to Stage Road as seen in the photo. There are two sets of anchors on top of the rock indicating two known routes. One route is an 8 bolt sport route while the other seems to be 100% trad. The rock is very loose and crumbly on the sport route. The cliff faces west and gets full sun from late morning onwards. Descent is off the top to the right and meets up with the trail leading down from Castle and Flintstone Rocks. The easiest approach to this area is from the Stage Road in Pine Canyon. From the parking lot, the walk in is about 15 minutes. The rocks come in full view as you approach an obvious stream wash crossing the road. An easy approach trail leads up and left of the major rock outcropping to the base of this rock. Continuing up the trail gets you to Flintstone Rock and further up to Castle Rock. Additional info from Salamanizer:
The two routes and descriptions from left to right are:
- Dingleberry Crack (5.9)Trad, (FA.Unknown) Good pro for the most part. Climb a short wall to get to the dingleberry, then get pro in and climb around. Continue up to the short crux where the crack gets continually smaller until it runs out just after a fixed pin. Climbing above the pin to the anchors is the real crux because its a bit runnout.
- Just to the left is The Right Cheek (5.10+)sport(FA.Chad Suchoski 04) A bouldery start makes this climb much harder. A critical hold broke down low then looks to be chipped back in by some coward who wanted to bring the climb to his level. The crux is sustained through the first two bolts then eases up to .9/10 terratory on reachy juggy holds.
- All bolts are 1/2in by 3 3/4in Powers bolts. Top anchors are 4 3/4 by 1/2in Powers bolts. The bolts are bomber. The rock is a bit loose and hasn't seen to many accents. Probably better for toprope unless you have it well in hand.
The Teeth is an out of the way destination for most people, but has a few top rope problems worth checking out and one of the only clean splitter hand cracks in the Bay Area. You are sure to find solitude and shade in the summer. The rock quality varies from worthless choss to solid rock. If you don't like what you find on these rocks, no worry, there is plenty of room for new routes. Watch out for poison oak. This is one of the few area's in the canyon where poison oak is present near climbs. From the bottom of the canyon they are the group of rock furthest to the left and near the top of the hill. Approach from the top and walk down their north side to reach the climbs. There's not much of a trail but the walk is mostly open space. Approaching from the bottom of the canyon requires bushwhacking the whole way while likely unsuccessfully dodging massive amounts of poison oak.
Getting into this area is a pain in the butt, but if you're into longer climbs and terrifying leads, this place is worthwhile.
Wear long pants, long sleeves, and shoes. Sharp things sticking up from the ground and inconsistent trails make this area quite interesting to enter.
Approach #1: approach time 25 minutes
Instead of going by car into Mt. Diablo State park via the North entrance, continue south on Oak Grove Road passing North Gate road (which takes you into Mt. Diablo State Park) on your left. Oak Grove becomes Castle Rock Road. Head up Castle Rock Road past the high school until it ends, which is the parking lot for Castle Rock Regional park (no, not the state park in San Jose). Park, and continue on into the park about a third of a mile via the main trail. Go straight through the developed park, which has a swimming pool, several large fields, and a bathroom just to the left of the trail. The teeth, a large band of cliffs just left of the main Pine Canyon area that look like a set of crooked teeth, are visible for most apporach hovering on the horizon just left of the trail. Continue on the main trail to a cattle gate (not one of the cattle gates near the parking lot), where the trail forks. Cross through the cattle gate and continue straight on the main trail, which is now called Stage Road. You will see a dam on the left eventually. From this point continue on the main trail following the barbed with fence which borders the left side of the path. The main sections of rocks will come into view on the left side of the trail as you walk, eventually all of Pine Canyon will loom to the left of the trial.
Once the Barbed wire fence ends, find a spot to head uphill, and hike uphill keeping the appropriately named Castle rock as a reference.
You will find lots of sharp things to step on and run into. You will find poison Oak everywhere. You will loose your footing a time or two, as the soft rock and loads of loose leaves will turn a sure foot into a hill slide. Things get taller as you go uphill, so the scrapes incurred will move from your ankles and thighs to your arms without proper clothing on. Don't step on Snakes, they don't like that.
Flintstone rock has a very large cave in the front of it, and is located directly below Castle rock.
Approach #2: approach time 30 minutes
To access the Pine cliffs area, enter from the north section of the park for the shortest drive and simplest reference points. Approximately 1.5 miles from the gate is a "Mt. Diablo Northwest Border" sign on the right. Park alongside the road, and head off the road at the fire road entrance, which has recently been changed from an orange gate to 5 wooden posts. On the middle post a sign stating "59 - 13", which you can see from your car hanging about 2 feet above ground. You should head onto the fire roadhere and head uphill through the wide area. Initially parallel to the main paved road, the fire road will move away from the paved road.
Walk along the fire road, and hang a right at the signed intersection. This heads switches back up the hill, and around a bend. About 1/2 a mile later you will reach a small pond on the right side. After the pond, you will notice a faint set of trails heading through the tall grass, one of the later ones has seen more wear. Pick your favorite, and walk along until the join into one larger trail (you can see this walking down the trail once the pond comes into view about 200 yards off the trail, and 50 or so feet above the valley floor), which heads nearly stright uphill. Walk uphill for 400 or so vertical feet to the ridge, where you will find a crossing larger trail.
Continue on past the ridge trail on a very narrow trail surrounded by really tall sharp thorny bushes. Abruptly, Lookout Rock will appear in front of you. Hang a right on a trail just prior to lookout rock, and you will find your way to Castle Rock, which has no bolts on it.
Flintstone Rock is the next rock 100 feet downhill and left from Castle Rock, and the top is visible and reachable from the left side of Castle Rock. The trail to climbing on this rock is around on the far right side of the rock, and is also surprisingly steep narrow and loose.
You know you're in the right spot when you're inside of a LARGE overhang that has lots of graffitti on it. There is an overhang on Castle rock, but they are set apart because the Flintstone rock overhang is larger, and there is a vertical chimney in the right side.
From the bottom of the canyon, work your way around the back side of the first formation (Mammoth rock)and follow the trails heading right toward the Pagoda and Rock of Ages. You will decend into a steep ravine and see several ways to go. Try and shoot for between the two big rock formations and you'll be good.
23 Total Routes
['4 Stars',1],['3 Stars',11],['2 Stars',6],['1 Star',4],['Bomb',1]
Browse More Classics in Pine Canyon
Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Pine Canyon:
Featured Route For Pine Canyon
Cave Route 5.8- 5b 16 VI- VS 4c CA
: SF Bay Area
: ... : The Rock of Ages
This route is a classic moderate climb that is well protected and has some great moves and a spectacular and unique finish. It starts on a slabby face and climbs around some small caves and up a large colorful water streak into a grassy cave perched high above the ground. You have several options to build an anchor in this cave. However, the nature of the route (like most of the routes in Pine Canyon) dictate that you bring gear to build your own anchor. A few cams .75" - 2" should do the trick....[more] Browse More Classics in CA
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BETA PHOTO: Pagoda Rock and Rock of Ages - Route Topos
BETA PHOTO: Overall view of area showing very left side of Fli...
BETA PHOTO: Unknown Rock sitting 200 yards below Flintstone Ro...
BETA PHOTO: Photo taken from the path leading directly down fr...
BETA PHOTO: Pine Canyon (Mt Diablo State Park) Rock formation ...
BETA PHOTO: Flintstone Rock.
From: Vacaville Ca.
Sep 1, 2005
I have found the above information about Pine Canyon to be fairly in-accruate. First, poison oak is only found to the left of cave rock and around the Deliverence/teeth area's. For all the routes accept for three, its not a problem. Second, the rock is not all a degraded, crumbly choss pile like you have discribed. Though there are some sections of loose rock, most is of good quality, stable, and even show little sigh of wear though have been put through a decade of good use. Third, and most important. The bolts in Pine Canyon are like the bolts at any other sport area. Some are suspect, however most are bomber. I would hang my truck from any anchor without fear of it failing. Most of the old bolts have been replaced, the ASCA has been in the area replaceing a few critical bolts and I and others who frequent the area have put lots of time and money into assureing the safety of the all the bolts in the canyon. The only bad bolts left are ones on routes no one would bother to climb and old bolts next to newly replaced ones. Fourth, most of the trad leads have bomber placements. The sandstone in these cracks is of good quality (better than what you will find at the Boy Scout Rocks or Castle Rock State Park) and any sections that are not are protected with a bolt placement. I found your discription to be misguided and ill-informed. Pine Canyon offers some of the best climbing in the bay area (both sport and trad) and is really not that difficult to get too. The approach takes no more than 10 min from the car. Pine canyon also offers an escape from the crowds of other crags in the area. Most likely because of its poor coverage in every guide book I have seen. No one seems to know much about the place and get discouraged because they cant seem to find many routes. There are three times as many routes than their are mentioned in any guide book. You just have to know where to look. Spend some time there. They will begin to reveal themselves and upon climbing them you will have a changed perspective of the canyon. Pine Canyon is the bay area's little secret. The name's Salamanizer by the way. I'm not trying to be annonymous, I just have'nt sighed up yet. Cheers...
|By aaron hope|
From: Walnut Creek, CA
Apr 24, 2010
Rock is hollow and dirty and you may experience some bushwacking. All that said, it's a ton of fun. Most of the newer bolts seemed solid.
|By Brian Snider|
Apr 26, 2010
This is truly a great spot for adventure climbing. Some of the largest formations in the Bay Area, and not as crowded as the rest of them. Some bush whacking and route finding is required but also part of the fun. Definitely some loose rock up there so where a helmet and be careful. You dont want to forget your swim trunks for afterwards, there's a pool near the entrance of the park.
From: South Lake Tahoe, CA
Sep 20, 2010
This area takes a long time to get to and is difficult to reach?
An old road bed and 10 minutes of uphill scrambling is long and difficult?
More difficult than the gym approach, I'll give ya that.
I think Salamanizer has hit the nail on the head. This place is a real gem for exploration, you could spend days out here looking at all the possible lines and figuring out which ones go and which ones don't.
I look forward to heading back in there and exploring some more routes. A pretty cool place for being so close to home.
From: Orinda, California
Jan 5, 2012
I agree with Salamanizer.
10-15 minute approach more or less for most.
Drive to Castle Rock Regional Park
Park your car
walk on a very wide groomed path for 10-15 minutes
on your left will be all the climbing
no poison oak or well very little of it anyways
the rock is soft yes
holds will break yes
so what take your time and be smart
the climbing is good and fun
i often tr solo here as it's a good place to get away for an afternoon when you dont have time or energy to drive to the next best thing.
most bolts i've seen id rate at 6-10 if 1 was shit and 10 was indestructible.
great winter spot warm and sunny
if you wanna climb here pm me. i always need a partner and love climbing in pine canyon
dont climb here for a few days after rain. i've seen people climbing the day after rain and once an afternoon after it just rained. you'll destroy the rock and put yourself at risk as well.
Jan 3, 2013
Salamanizer is totally right. the approach is easy, the bolts are fine, especially out there on flintstone rock, there are some holds that are a little weak, but most of the stone there is fine. I havent had the chance to trad out here so i cant comment on that but i know all the sport and TR out here is just dandy.
also anyone in the area who wants to go climb out here, PM me. im always looking for east bay climbing friends
|By aaron hope|
From: Walnut Creek, CA
Jan 29, 2013
Not to bust the chops of those who have already spent time publishing Pine Canyon (much appreciated!) but can we get this place sorted out better? In other words, sort the routes within their respective formation like every other page in MP? That would significantly help people out trying to navigate Pine Canyon.
From: Vacaville Ca.
Jan 29, 2013
I think to be able to do that you need to send an email to one of the moderators explaining exactly how you would like the routes re-arranged. I don't think anyone else but a moderator has the ability to do it.
I would like to see the routes broken up into their respective individual formations, and then arranged in order left to right on each formation.
1. Blue Zenith
2. Dry December
3. The Pillar
4. Unsung War
From: Sacramento, CA
Jan 29, 2013
I'm on it.
From: Vacaville Ca.
Jan 29, 2013
Now that ladies and gentlemen is some seriously fast service.
Let me know if there's anything I can do to help.