Printed from
Back to Location

Space for your notes

Playgrounds Rock Climbing Area

Santa Barbara, California, United States


Look out over Santa Barbara and an endless expanse of blue ocean. Climb and scramble over perfect yellow sandstone boulders. Rock climb to your hearts content! That is what awaits you at Playgrounds!
After I first met my husband, he invited me on our first date, to rock climb at Playgrounds! I had never been rock climbing before. I hadn't even been to the mountains above Santa Barbara even though I'd lived there for two years! It was an eye-opening experience to find the wonders that lie above Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez Mountains.
It is a fairly short (twenty minute) downhill hike in to Playgrounds. Often the sage bushes are overgrown and will brush you as you walk along, so check yourself for ticks when you get home. Once you reach the area full of boulders called Playgrounds, you have a maze of possible pathways to choose from. All paths involve a lot of climbing over boulders. There is a large rock face (rated 5.6 in difficulty) that is great for beginning rock climbers. Really! It's easy! You don't even need rock climbing shoes, just sneakers, to tackle this one. On my first climb, whenever I felt scared, I leaned up against the warm sandstone and felt the sun on my face, and everything was ok. Once at the top, it's marvelous to sit and look down on the jumble of boulders and the faded blue ocean below. Then there's the jump over the rock in order to be lowered down- that, I'd say, is the scariest part! Afterwards, you can sit in the sun with the forty-foot rock face towering above, and ponder how rare this little spot is.
I don't recommend coming in summer because there are too many flies that bother you as you climb. You're holding on for dear life while the flies tickle your face and you can't wave them away! Spring is a nice time to come.
Check yourself for ticks when you get home because there are plenty of them. Also, stay away from the poison oak, which is also abundant. To recognize it, look for a plant with glossy leaves in groups of three.
Other places to explore on highway 154 are: Lizard's Mouth, a short hike to little caves overlooking a gorgeous view of Santa Barbara and Goleta- this is a fun place for older kids because there are lots of nooks and crannies to explore; Lake Cachuma, a peaceful lake with grassy picnic areas and a nice playground; and Santa Ynez River, a quiet, peaceful river that is nice but cold to swim in!

Photo Gallery

Climbing the 5.9 wall (very difficult) at Playgrounds!

Boulders at Playgrounds.

Scattered boulders and birds eye view of Santa Barbara at Playgrounds.

Rock formations at Playgrounds. The ocean and the Channel Islands in background.

Climbing the Big Lebowski at Playgrounds.

This is one variation of what Poison Oak looks like- glossy leaves, in groups of three. If in doubt, still watch out!


This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.

From Highway 101, exit at State St/Highway 154 and follow the signs to Highway 154. You will be heading up the mountains, with spectacular views. After the fourth turnout, turn left on Kinevan Rd. Take the left fork, which is West Camino Cielo Rd. Continue past the mailboxes on the left. Pass the unusual boulder on the right, and the Windemere sign. Once you see the first telephone pole on the left, park there, across from the gate. This is the trailhead, on your left- across the street from the gate.
All content Copyright © 2006-2018 copying prohibited