Peterskill Sign

A bit overshadowed by its world-renowned multi-pitch neighbor, Peterskill, in New York’s Minnewaska State Park Preserve, is the Gunks’ answer to single-pitch climbing—and a justly popular destination in its own right. It offers the same fun climbing and high-quality rock that have made the Gunks world-famous, doing so in a shorter, less committing setting that makes it a great place to get acquainted with the area, to break into leading trad, or even to try climbing for the first time. With well over 200 routes, from 5.0 to 5.13b, Peterskill offers a little bit of something for everyone.

How to Get to Peterskill

From the Thruway (I-87), take Exit 18 for New Paltz. At the end of the exit, turn left onto NY-299 and continue for 7.4 miles, passing through the town of New Paltz, ultimately arriving at an intersection with US-44/NY-55. Turn right onto US-44/NY-55 and head uphill, through Mohonk Preserve and the notch that divides the Trapps from the Nears, arriving at the signed entrance to Peterskill, on the right, after 3.3 miles.

Parking is limited and the lot can be a zoo on the weekend, especially when conditions are good. Do everyone a favor and carpool. There’s a commuter park-and-ride with more than enough room just off the Thruway at New Paltz (Exit 18).

Peterskill Rock Climb Hanky
The Enterprise and Genuflect Walls offer a high concentration of quality moderates, including Hanky (5.8), pictured above.

Lay of the Land

There are two main areas for roped climbing at Peterskill: the Main Cliff and Dickie Barre. The Main Cliff is further divided into three areas: West Cliff, Middle Cliff, and East Cliff. Each area boasts varied climbing and a diverse range of grades, though the majority of routes are in the moderate range.

The Main Cliff is accessed via the red-blazed and aptly named Red Loop Trail, which departs Peterskill’s parking area at its northwest corner and reaches the far-right end of West Cliff in just a few steps before splitting; a left here accesses the rest of West Cliff, a right leads to the blue-and-yellow-blazed climbers’ trail at the far left end of Middle Cliff that departs to the right and base of Middle Cliff, stretching all the way to East Cliff. Several easily identifiable side trails break off to the left for easy cliff-top access along the way.

Dickie Barre, a relatively new addition to Peterskill, is a high escarpment above the Main Cliff that requires a short hike of about 10-15 minutes. Continue to the right on the Red Loop Trail, past the Main Cliff climbers’ trail as it climbs between West and Middle Cliffs, to a junction with the white-blazed Bullwheel Trail. Take a right on the Bullwheel Trail and head east for about a half-mile to reach the first of the climbers’ trails that access the base of the cliffs, departing to the left.

Peterskilll rock climbing trail blaze
The climbers’ trails at Peter’s Kill are blazed with a blue-yellow-blue pattern and run all along—above and below—the cliffs.

Peterskill Tick List

The climbing at Peterskill is varied, interesting, and accessible. Whether you’re looking to get on the sharp end or just spend the day on top rope, there are gems to be had and more than enough corners, cracks, and faces to keep you busy.

Newer climbers should check out the Bunk Beds and Breakfast Wall at West Cliff and Middle Cliff, respectively. Both offer a solid selection of easy and moderate climbing and the Bunk Beds even have a couple of bolted anchors that’ll reassure nervous first-timers. Sleepwalking (5.3) and Baby Steps (5.2) at Bunk Beds are great places to start before checking out Morning Cup (5.6) and Cornflake (5.4) at Breakfast Wall.

It’s in moderates where Peterskill really excels—and where curating a tick list becomes a task. Of the many great climbs in this category though, there are a handful that merit the spotlight and they’re spread out pretty evenly across the East Cliff. Start with Genuflect (5.6), a fun left-trending groove in the shallow canyon between its eponymous wall and the also-fun Enterprise Wall. From here, either go around the corner (climbers’ left) on the Enterprise Wall and hit Kling-On (5.7+), a fun corner climb, or head climbers’ right to the stunning A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (5.8+). A little further down, in another of the East Cliff’s many canyons, are Skink (5.7+), a thought-provoking face climb that’s across from, by many accounts, the area’s premier line: Golden Dreams (5.9), a gorgeous finger crack in a left-leaning corner.

More great moderates abound up at Dickie Barre, where five routes stand out, in convenient concentration, at the Clamshell Wall. From left to right, Ariel’s Brassiere (5.8), Windy City (5.8-), Bolt Line (5.8), Little Necky (5.7), and Stubway (5.7+) are all beauts, all with bolted anchors, and all in a row—a great place to set-up shop for the day.

The harder climbs are pretty well distributed across Main Cliff. Next to Golden Dreams at the East Cliff is Fickle Fingers (5.10b), another finger crack, this time capped by an overhang. (Pro tip for leaders: Fickle Fingers comes with an R rating but also has bolted anchors for the top-rope hero). Head west a bit to the Psycho Area for Peterskill’s most concentrated selection of good, difficult climbs including The Ripper (5.10a), and Psyche Out (5.11a). Lastly, for truly hard routes, all the way back at the West Cliff are the formidable roof climbs of the LA Wall: LA Rose (5.13a) and LA Roof (5.13b).

Peterskill Gear and Guidebook

The ubiquitous and vague “standard Gunks rack” does the trick here, though the area’s characteristic horizontal cracks really love finger-sized cams. Plenty of static line will enable you to set up a top rope on just about anything.

Gunks Apps’ Peter’s Kill Routes is the area’s definitive guide and a great resource for all things Peterskill. Download it ahead of time because the cell service at the cliffs is poor.

Caption: Chill climbing and bolted anchors make the Bunk Beds wall (including Bunk Arête (5.6+), pictured above) an ideal place for newer climbers.

Chill climbing and bolted anchors make the Bunk Beds wall (including Bunk Arête (5.6+), pictured above) an ideal place for newer climbers.

Need to Know

Since the climbing at Peterskill is located within New York’s Minnewaska State Park Preserve, it is subject to regulations put in place by New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation. Read on for information about permits and anchors.


First things first: to climb at Peterskill, you need to fill out a waiver, sign in, and purchase a permit at the booth before entering the parking lot. Permits are $10 per person for the day or $90 per person for the season. There’s a daily permit cap of 100 for climbers and 30 for boulderers, so depending on when you arrive, you may need to wait for folks to leave before you can purchase your own. Plan accordingly.


There’s a lot of information out there regarding tree use and anchoring restrictions at Peterskill but here’s the deal, as confirmed in the Peter’s Kill Routes (Gunks Apps) guidebook and corroborated by the DEC: trees are fair game, but responsible use—i.e., using webbing or padding your static line when wrapped around a tree—is greatly encouraged. Given Peterskill’s popularity, please consider this compulsory and do whatever is necessary to ensure the health of the trees at the top.

There are several bolted anchors at cliff tops throughout the area as well, but the routes they serve tend to fill up fast. Whether you can get on one or must depend on natural features and gear, be sure to bring plenty of static line to extend your anchor over the edge.

Do you have a favorite rock climb in Peterskill? If so, we want to hear about it in the comments!