Goat Rock is one of the well-known climbing spots along Skyline Ridge in the South Bay. Located just off of CA 35 in Castle Rock State Park, Goat Rock is a 100 foot sandstone monolith with impressive views of the Santa Cruz Mountains along with many routes that rate from 5.6 to 5.12. Erosion from wind, water, and sun have created an interesting rock pattern filled with many small pockets and caves: perfect for climbing. Goat Rock is mostly top roped, and it can get pretty crowded during a summer afternoon. Climbing early to beat the heat and crowds is recommended. From the parking lot on Skyline Blvd., Goat Rock is a 2.5 mile hike through shady groves of redwood trees and sun-baked chaparral. At the summit, one will find perhaps a dozen bolts drilled into the rock that provide great anchors for any of the top rope routes on the rock. The greater ridge of Ben Lomond Mountain dominates the view to the south, blocking most of the view of the ocean, however, parts of Santa Cruz and the Monterey Bay are visible on a clear day. Along with Goat Rock, there are many other great climbing spots in the immediate area, such as Indian Rock, Summit Rock, and Castle Rock itself.
Getting to Goat Rock is simple. From the intersection of CA 9 and CA 35 (Skyline Blvd.), head south on CA 35. In two and a half miles, you'll come to Castle Rock State Park. There is a small parking lot on the right, off the road, but most of the time this is full. Parking extends down Skyline Blvd. another 100 yards or so. Come early for a good spot: this place fills up fast. Once you park, walk through the parking lot and pick the trail on the right, signed Castle Falls. This follows Castle Creek for a mile before crossing over to the west side of the creek. There is a junction here. Take the trail that heads right, up the hill. This is signed Goat Rock. Follow this trail until you come across the impossible-to-miss large rock before you. To get to the summit, follow the trail to the right and up some stairs. Soon the trail wraps around the rock, just behind the top. The summit is obtained by scrambling up a very short class 3 rivet.
No red tape.
When to Climb/Camping
Goat Rock can get pretty crowded in the summer months, especially in the afternoons. It is best to get to Goat Rock early in the day to earn a spot on the rock, not to mention snagging a parking spot on Skyline Blvd. There are campgrounds within Castle Rock State Park, and must be reserved. Click here for more information.
For the interested: the swiss cheese rock is called "tafoni" and is formed by a process called cavernous weathering.
There is camping at Castle Rock State Park.. there's a trail camp about a mile from Goat Rock (two miles from the trailhead) for which reservations must be made in advance through the state park service.
Also, I believe Goat Rock is about a mile from the main parking lot on Skyline Blvd, and is through a Douglas fir/tan oak/madrone forest and chaparral.