Bouldering in Vacaville
Seriously. Situated about 30 miles west of Sacramento, and about 60 miles east of the Bay Area on I-80, there’s an outcropping of boulders scattered across a ridge just north of the freeway near the Nut Tree Exit.
“But the bouldering’s crap, right?”
No, actually it’s not. It’s not a world class area, and there aren’t thousands of problems. But it’ll definitely keep you busy for an afternoon or two.
The boulders are high on some hills that overlook the whole central valley. On a clear day you’ll be able to see Mt. Diablo in Walnut Creek, and the snow on the Sierras to the east.
And, despite the boulders’ being in the middle of some of Vacaville’s outlying neighborhoods, the setting is surprisingly pastoral and pleasant. The city of Vacaville has designated the whole area an open space park. There are cattle grazing there in the spring, summer, and fall. And the hills are peppered with beautiful, classic California oaks that look too archetypal to be real. You’ll think you’re in a California Plein Air painting. Macro beta:- Coming from the Bay Area on I-80, get off on the Nut Tree Parkway exit in Vacaville and take the first left at Allison Dr.
- OR, coming from Sacramento, take the East Monte Vista Drive exit, go left on Monte Vista, and then go right when you hit Allison Drive.
Micro beta:- Follow Allison Drive until it reaches Browns Valley Parkway, go left.
- Go on Browns Valley Parkway, then turn left on Wrentham Drive (You’ll be able to see boulders up on the hill to the left behind the subdivision).
- Then turn left on Woodcrest. About a block up on the right, you’ll see a gap between the houses and a steep gravel path cutting diagonally up the hillside into the Open Space Park.
- Park on the right (be considerate of the neighbors), grab your stuff and head up the trail.
About a quarter mile or so up the trail, when it crests are starts to head back down hill, they’ll be a cattle gate on the right and an obvious path winding north up the hill towards the crest and scattered boulders. Hop the fence at the gate, being careful not to damage it—it’s there to keep the cattle in, not keep people out. And follow the trail up the hill. The boulders are scatter along this trail and across the next few hills to the north and west. Bring a spotter—some of the landings tilt down and away and you’ll roll all the way down to Fairfield without a catch.
The rock’s a bit chossy in spots, but it’s been cleaned up by climbers and you’ll find some steep and slabby terrain ranging from V0 up. Poke around and enjoy yourself.