Skofield Park is a city park located near the mountains north of the city of Santa Barbara, California.
I have written at some lenght about the rich history of bouldering in the mountains of Santa Barbara. My previous submissions have covered Painted Cave
, The Brickyard
, and the incomparable Lizard's Mouth
. The subject of this page “Skofield Park” will be in a new realm and you will soon see why.
When you think of a city park, you think of a designated area to go walk around between trees, bushes and enjoy a running creek. Well, Skofield Park has all that and a bit more. Skofield Park has boulders. Some people have compared Skofield Park to Fontainblueau in France. Okay, may be so, but I would say Skofield bouldering compares to a very small corner of Fontainbleau.
There are about a dozen boulders strewn all around. They are found next to the creek, next to public bathrooms, hidden behind trees and bushes and next to picnic benches and barbeque grills. But if you are a boulderer, you know very well that you can make up a dozen different problems on every little boulder. Collectively, there are some fifty established problems on these boulders, but when you walk away at the end of your circuit, you will be satisfied. There is one thing that will undoubtedly cross your mind and that is, “Nice, but I wish there was more of it.”
Boulder by the entrance to Skofield Park
As you walk down from the park’s parking lot, the first boulder you come to is “Caretaker Boulder,” which is right next to the paved road. The problems on this boulder range from (V0) to (V6 R/X). The (V6) problem has a befitting name, “Undertaker” and takes you straight out of the cave to a crux at the top. You don’t want to miss the crux move because the landing is on sloping ground with smallest boulders. Don’t be discouraged. There are several much easier problems on this boulder.
The next boulder, and only fifty feet down the same road, is “Pissoir Boulder.” This boulder is right next to a public bathroom. It’s not quite as high as the Caretaker Boulder and it has much better landing. Pissoir Boulder is covered by trees and surrounded by smaller boulders. There are no distinguishing features on this boulder and that’s what makes this boulder difficult to deal with. The edges you may find are either too small or oriented in the wrong direction. But, you will find a lot of slopers on this boulder. Not to worry, you will find a few easier problems, in the (V1) range on this boulder.
This is my favorite boulder of the bunch. No highball problems on this boulder. To find the slab boulder, walk down the same paved road until you see the picnic sight # 14. Walk down the dirt path and go right, toward the creek at the benches. Slab Boulder has a number of easy problems and they are not high. You can also traverse the rock, but I found that a bit hard due to broken holds.
Find the Slab Boulder first. Cracked Boulder is just down the hill from it and right next to the creek. There are about half a dozen problems on this boulder, but most people opt to just do the easiest one which is climbing the crack. The landing here leaves a lot to be desired and the problems are in the V7 range. Being right next to a creek, you need to be on the lookout for poison oak.
The name explains it all. This boulder is right next to a big barbeque grill and several benches. BBQ Boulder offers a number of easy to moderate problems and has great landing all around. The only problem is that it’s short. A few moves and you’re on top. BBQ is located inside the “Area C” which is reached by walking around the loop road. There is a shorter way to get to this boulder. Before reaching the Caretaker Boulder, the paved road forks to the left. If you take the left fork, you will soon see the sign for Area C, by reservation only.
How to get there
From US Highway 101 in Santa Barbara take the Mission Street off ramp and turn right at the light. Continue on Mission street passing in front of the mission building to a stop sign at the intersection with Foothill Road. Turn right onto Foothill Road and left onto Tunnel Road. You will come to a fork. Take the right fork toward Botanic Garden. Before reaching Botanic Garden, turn right onto Las Canolas that will take you to Skofield Park.