4 amazing climbs right outside Seattle

amazing climbs
Photo: Couyrtesy of Kade Krichko

It’s no secret that Seattle is an active city. But what might surprise some people is just how close the outdoor adventures are to Seattle city limits.

Climbers in particular have found this especially beneficial, as the area boasts several noteworthy climbing destinations within a one-hour drive. The weather might be wet at times, but when the sun comes out, it’s easy to find a new route on rock.

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Don’t believe us? Check out these four amazing climbs right on Seattle’s doorstep.

Exit 38

Clock out at 5, brave the traffic on I-90 and be on the rock by 6. Within an hour of city limits, Exit 38, near North Bend, offers a variety of options in both sport and top-rope routes and is just a short hike through the forest from the parking area.

This is a great spot to get your climbing feet wet, and there are enough challenging routes to keep your more vertically inclined friends happy too.

This spot can get busy, so make sure to lock your car before heading up the hill.

Exit 32

Even closer than the access at Exit 38, Exit 32 (also known as Little Si) offers handfuls of sport climbs and a few traditional climbs. Though proximity is certainly a plus, Little Si also features some darn good climbing, including World Wall I, which has climbs ranging from 5.9 to 5.14.

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After the short drive, climbers have a 25-minute approach hike to hit the wall. For those in search of a little extra exercise at the end of the day, the trail to the top of Little Si is popular all year.

Mount Index

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For those ready to pull on the big-boy/big-girl pants, Mount Index offers some of the most challenging trad climbing around Seattle in the shadow of one of its most impressive peaks. Situated a few miles up the road from Gold Bar’s bouldering field, Mount Index has convenient parking facilities at the base of Lower Town Wall — which happens to be one of the best climbing faces in the Pacific Northwest.

If you’re sending it right out of the gate, a trip up Japanese Gardens, a 5.11+, 200-foot single pitch along the left side of Lower Town Wall’s smooth granite, should do the trick.

For those who are looking to take it a little easier, there are several manageable routes, including the Davis-Holland, a 5.9 route along Upper Town Wall.

Gold Bar

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Nestled alongside the Route 2 corridor, Gold Bar may seem like a sleepy one-horse town, but it’s also a bouldering Garden of Eden. Just an hour out from Seattle, the field at the base of Zeke’s Wall features boulders ranging in size from head to house height and enough uncleaned routes to keep the savviest of route artists entertained for weeks on end.

A combination of white and golden granite allows for unbelievable feel on the rock, and a steady stream of edges, seams, slopers and caves will keep things fresh long after your arms cry uncle.

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Many think the area would rival the legendary Squamish zone in British Columbia if it weren’t for a 2- to 3-mile access slog from the lower gate. Luckily for you, that keeps crowds low, even on weekends.

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