Cliff Mountain is one of the most challenging High Peaks. While the views are decent along the climb, the approach to the climb is very demanding. Cliff sits back behind Mount Marcy and requires a long approach, then a hike through an exceptional mud pit, then up the cliff face which is extremely steep and in many situations slippery. While, due to tradition, this is a 46er peak, it does not crest 4000’ in elevation. Cliff is often climbed with in conjunction with Mount Redfield. We recommend you pick up a guide book for more in depth detail or hire a local guide to assist you.
Adirondack Loj: Leave Lake Placid on Route 73, follow Route 73 toward Keene. Continue for about 3 miles to Adirondack Loj Road on the right. Follow Adirondack Loj Road for to its end at Heart Lake and park in the main parking lot. Small parking fees will be required.
Upper Works Trailhead: Use the North Hudson exit on the I-87 (exit 29) and follow the Blue Ridge Road (CR 84) toward Newcomb. Continue for roughly 18-miles to the Tahawus Road (CR25) on the right. Follow this road for 6.3 miles and then left at a junction for another 3 miles to a trailhead on the right.
By the numbers
- Distance: 16+ miles round trip
- Elevation: 3960 feet
- Ascent: 2160 feet
- Cliff is High Peak #44
- Follow Leave No Trace principles
This is an approximate 8-mile hike, one way. From the Loj follow the hikers approach trail to the High Peaks that leads to Marcy Dam. From Marcy Dam you will need to follow the trail to Avalanche Camp an then left toward Lake Arnold. At Lake Arnold you will stay left and continue to climb to the top of the pass and descend for a bit into the valley. After a sometimes wet hike through the valley over log bridges and around beaver activity you will pass by Feldspar Lean-to. 0.1 miles past the lean-to is a major T-intersection. Left leads up to Four-Corners, south of Mount Marcy. Right leads to Uphill, the start of the herd-path.
Heading right you will have a moderate, but often wet hike to the Uphill Lean-to. The herd-path is directly across the trail from the lean-to, marked by a cairn. This herd-path is also the start of the Redfield Route. The Cliff Route is slightly up the joined herd-path and leaves right. At this point you will have to navigate through the muck and mire to the base of the cliff. Once over the Cliff don’t be fooled into stopping at the next highest point, this is a false summit, drop a bit and finish the climb to the true summit. Views are a bit lacking from the summit, so take in the nice ones along the steep climb.
Do not attempt to cross Flowed Lands unless the conditions warrant. The herd path is tough to follow in areas if the route has not been broken out. The cliff scramble on the mountain can be very icy and a bit dangerous; take your time. It's recommended to bring full crampons and an ice axe for the cliffs (even if not needed it’s better to have them).
For those who are very experienced in backcountry travel, there is a winter-access only bushwhack route to Cliff. Special attention will need to be given to ice conditions before attempting this.