This massive cliff named for the stripes on its upper slab offers climbers the state’s longest slab routes on a giant, smooth central buttress. The crag is called the Big Rock and is seen only from one road – Matukat – which winds along a high bench.
What Makes It Great
Big Rock Candy Mountain is the biggest rock in the South Platte area – reaching nearly 1,400 feet from its broad base to its top. This rock is hidden in the canyons near Cheesman Reservoir east of the craggy Tarryall Mountains, and hadn’t been climbed much until the early 1980s. According to “Climb: The History of Rock Climbing in Colorado,” by Jeff Achey, Dudley Chelton and Bob Godfrey, a group of climbers including Earl Wiggins decided that a free-climb route might be possible “on the longest, smoothest buttress.” Three days later, they were successful.
Many local climbers have taken on the Big Rock challenge since the 1970s, according to Colorado climbing guru Stewart Green. This is an endurance endeavor, which includes running, climbing, stream crossing and more. If all you're doing is climbing though, it still takes a full day to approach, climb, descend, and hike back to the car.
Who is Going to Love It
The size of Big Rock Candy Mountain makes it memorable, along with the routes, and the effort required just to get there. Classic routes include Petered Out, 5.9; Fields of Dreams Growling Wild, 5.11+; and Childhood’s End, 5.12.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To get to Big Rock from the west, take U.S. Highway 24 west to Woodland Park. Turn right and drive north on Colorado Highway 67 to Deckers. Turn left onto County Road 126; and turn left on Matukat Road (Forest Road 211). Drive to Goose Creek Campground and continue south for four miles to Forest Road 540 (marked Corral Creek). Park and walk the road for about two miles; you will see Big Rock to the east. Hike down to the South Platte River and look for a place to cross.
To approach from the east from Colorado Springs (best in the summer), take U.S. Highway 24 west to Florissant. Turn north on Teller County Road 3; turn west on Forest Road 360 to Forest Road 205 (Mayberry Gulch). Follow 205 (in four-wheel-drive vehicle, on bicycle or on foot) for four miles to the back of Big Rock. Road 205 can be very rough, and may be impassable depending on recent weather conditions.
For more information, consult a climbing guide for directions (Stewart Green’s “Rock Climbing Colorado, 2nd: A Guide to More than 1,800 Routes is a reliable guide; as are posts from Mountain Project).
The climbing season on Big Rock Candy Mountain is generally from March through November. Climbing expert Green says it can be windy in March and April, and hot in the summer, with regular afternoon thunderstorms that are often accompanied by lightning. Winter ascents can be possible, depending on weather conditions.