Best Bouldering in the Gunks, New York
The Gunks, also known as the Shawangunk Ridge, is a popular destination for boulderers located in the Hudson Valley of New York State.
The Gunks offer a diverse range of climbing options, from easy slab climbs to steep, overhanging routes. The rock is primarily Shawangunk conglomerate, which is a quartzite conglomerate that is very hard and forms interesting cracks and ledges on cliffs.
The boulder problems in the Gunks are spread out across several different areas, including Peterskill, the Trapps, and the Near Trapps or “Nears”. Peterskill offers a variety of boulder problems, from easy slabs to steep overhangs, and is a popular spot for both beginner and experienced climbers. The Near Trapps and Far Trapps areas offer a more challenging climbing experience, with steep overhanging routes and difficult boulder problems.
It is important to note that climbing in the Gunks is not free and will require a permit for each climber. A day pass at Peterskill is $10 whereas a pass at Mohonk Preserve is $20. Annual passes are also available at Mohonk preserve for just over $100 dollars.
Most boulder problems in the Gunks are located on our near the carriage road, which is a gravel path that runs along the base of the cliffs.
What to bring
Many of the boulder problems in the Gunks are traverses, which will require several crash pads or an attentive spotter that can move pads as needed. On some of the popular boulder problems along the carriage road, it is often possible to meet other climbers and share crash pads with them.
The rock at the Gunks can be quite sharp in some areas so bringing tape for your fingers is never a bad idea.
When to go
The best time for bouldering in the Gunks is during the spring and fall when temperatures are mild and the weather is dry. It can often take a few days for some boulders to dry out after a rainstorm so it is best to avoid climbing during rainy weeks. Both Peterskill and Mohonk preserve can get very busy during weekends in the summer and fall, so it is important to arrive early to get a parking space before they are all gone.
If you are able to climb during the week, you’ll likely find it to be far less crowded than the weekends.
What to climb
The Gunks offers a diverse range of boulder problems from easy to very difficult. Below are some of the can’t-miss problems by difficulty rating:
Where to Stay
The American Alpine Club maintains a campground close to Mohonk Preserve. In addition, the Sam Pryor Shawangunk Gateway Campground is another popular spot for climbers to camp. In nearby New Paltz, New York, some climbers choose to stay at hotels or hostels.
Overall, bouldering in the Gunks offers a unique and challenging climbing experience for climbers of all skill levels. The area’s diverse range of climbing options, beautiful scenery, and rich natural environment make it a popular destination for climbers from all over the world.
If you are interested in other climbing areas on the east coast, read our breakdown of the 5 best climbing destinations in the eastern United States.