Perhaps the best legitimate climbing within close proximity of downtown Portland, Broughton Bluffs sit on the eastern shore of the Sandy River near the mouth of the Columbia River Gorge. One of the area’s favorite local crags, Broughton provides a variety of challenges for nearly every skill set.
What Makes It Great
When you drive up to the state park, the rock is rather unsuspecting, especially because it is so close to Portland. The climbing here is both sport and trad, so trad gear is not necessary for all of the climbs, which makes it accessible to those new at climbing or who have not yet purchased cams. The variation in grade allows people of all skill levels to climb at Broughton Bluff. It’s proximity to Portland allows climbers to make this a short day trip or close enough for a climb after work, but there are certainly enough routes in this area to make a full day out of a trip here.
Even though the walls at Broughton Bluff are relatively short, you can find multi-pitch climbs. The rock here is basalt, similar to the Crooked River Gorge at Smith Rock State Park, the ultimate destination for climbers in this area. The quality of rock here is exceptional, second in the gorge only to Beacon Rock (also featured as a location on Roots Rated’s Portland page).
Most of the rock climbs at Broughton have established belay anchors for rappelling without topping out. If you do top out on either the North Face or the Hanging Gardens Wall and prefer a scrambling descent, there is a third-class ridgecrest between the cliffs.
For post-climb food and drinks, check out Tad’s Chicken N. Dumplins. It’s right on the banks of the Sandy River off of the Old Historic Highway and it is old-school awesome.
Who is Going to Love It
The difficulty of climbs at Broughton Bluff ranges from 5.6 to 5.13 including favorite routes like “Bad Omen” (5.12b) on the Bat Wall and “Gorilla Love Affair” (5.10d) on the Jungle Cliff. The Bluffs offer a little something for everybody on a series of 160-foot cliffs within the Lewis and Clark State Park. The state park is right next to the most popular spot to swim on the Sandy River, which makes for a lovely break spot or refreshing end to a day of climbing in the summer.
Broughton is good year-round, but best in summer and fall, as it can be a little wet and slick during the rainy season.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Portland, take I-84 east and take the Lewis and Clark State Park exit 18 and follow signs for the state park. Take a left at the stop sign at the end of the ramp onto the road that follows the Sandy River. The road goes under a railroad overpass and the state park will be on the left. The trail is on the right toward a hillside filled with trees. The state park has both water and restroom facilities, as well as plenty of room for a picnic in the grass on a sunny day.