Beta for bouldering in NYC is tough to find. In part, that’s because there just isn’t a lot of it available since there aren’t many routes to climb. But it’s available if you look hard enough, and as long as you can find your way to some of the best known rocks for bouldering, you can follow the chalk marks, or wait a while and most likely run into a fellow climber who knows the area better than you.
What Makes It Great
It’s a tiny path on the side of a cliff. One second, you’re standing on a bustling street in Harlem, at 160th right off of Dyckman, and the next, you’re scampering down a narrow trail into the woods. It’s not a steep drop off, but you don’t want to take a header down towards the road below you, which looks increasingly small.
Ignore the ultra-sketchy guy sitting on a rock down the trail. Just keep going.
This isn’t a solo mission, bouldering at High Bridge Park means bringing a friend or two to keep you company—safety in numbers—and don’t forget your bouldering pad. While the climbing itself is pretty rad, the ground surrounding the best rocks tends to be a little on the “shattered glass covered” side of things.
But it’s worth it, because the farther I run, the more rocks rise up on my left, and I start to see signs of climbers who’ve come before me. There are small chalk marks on the rock face, and the rocks look better and better as I get farther down the trail. About a mile in, and I’m standing in front of one that’s marked up with chalk, covered in problems I can’t wait to tackle. A shoe change, some chalk, a deep breath, and I’m off and climbing.
By the time I leave the park, I’ve had three different people stop and chat and offer suggestions for where to go—farther down the path, there are a whole host of great spots, and that’s how New Yorkers share climbing info. It’s hard to find online, but it’s easy to find when you start chatting with people.
There are boulder problems all over New York, and plenty to be found in three of the main parks in the Bronx: not just in High Bridge, but in neighboring Fort Tryon and Inwood Hills. The author of NYC Boulders, a great guide to the projects and problems in the city, explains that there’s a fault line that runs up Manahattan, and that’s why there are so many great spots to boulder up and down the city.
Inwood Hills is the home of Indian Cave, one of the most challenging inverted bouldering problems in the area. You can find it smack in the middle of the park, on Cold Spring, parallel to Bolton Road.
Who is Going to Love It
Over in Fort Tryon, there are boulders everywhere, since the park goes up and down. Plenty of great spots to traverse are tucked away, and as you walk, just keep an eye out for chalk marks from other climbers.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Highbridge Park is located in Washington Heights on the banks of the Harlem River near the northernmost tip of the New York City borough of Manhattan, between 155th Street and Dyckman Street.