Cedar Cliff Mountain Hike Route Map

Cedar Cliff Mountain

Cedar Cliff Mountain is a peak of only moderate height rising above the Tuckasegee River in the northern portion of Nantahala National Forest.  It probably would have forever gone unnoticed by me except for the fact that its dramatic summit cliffs rise directly above North Carolina Highway 281 which I frequently find myself travelling.  Dozens of times I've found myself gazing longingly upwards at its open ledges as I zip by in my car.  Despite the absolute dearth of online info in this peak I knew there was a trail to the top, the sign for it was clearly visible along the road as well.  For whatever reason I had never stopped to satisfy my desire to climb the peak however, until this day.

As I just stated, if you try to search out any info on this peak you won't find anything.  That probably had something to do with why it took me so long to climb it.  I don't like undertaking new hikes blindfolded.  As I would soon discover at Cedar Cliff, this dislike is not unfounded.  The small brown sign denoting what I assumed to be the trailhead contains an arrow which points directly up a small boulder slide along the highway.  It took me all of about 10 minutes of some pretty serious climbing to realize something wasn't quite right.  The route was incredibly steep for any kind of path and, if I was honest with myself, there was no path to be seen.  Rather than scramble back down to the road, I quickly decided to strike out directly for the top regardless the effort it would take.  Odds were I'd discover the true path at the summit.  After a half mile of some of the steepest bushwhacking I've ever undertaken I stepped out onto the summit ledges of Cedar Cliff.  The Tuckasegee wound nearly a thousand feet below me and the mountains of Nantahala National Forest stretched away to the south.  It was an incredible spot.  That, and as I expected, the trail was easily found at the summit.  I was able to enjoy a much more leisurely hike on the return journey.  As it turns out, the sign pointing me up the cliffs earlier was a bit misplaced.  You'll see in the album.  

So, once again I set out on what I thought would be a quick and easy hike only to find myself on a climb more adventurous than expected.  Come on along with me for another memorable day in the mountains... 

Trailhead GPS Coordinates:  35.247730, -83.077565

Route Type:  Loop                               Difficulty:  MODERATE  (Petzoldt Rating:  4.16 )

Hike Length:  ~2.5 miles                       Hike Duration:  1:20

Trailhead Temp:  45'F                          Trail Traffic:  NONE!!

Min. Elevation:  2,550'                           Max. Elevation:  3,380'

Total Vertical Gain:  830'                      Avg. Elevation Gain / Mile:  1,660' (bushwhack ascent)

                                                                                                                   553'  (via trail)

Trails Used (blaze color):  Cedar Cliff Mountain Trail (unblazed)


  • Tim Truemper

    on January 29, 2021

    Been cruising your site during the pandemic for remote hiking ideas. Between you and Meanderthals y'all are the best.

  • J. Dan Pittillo

    on February 1, 2020

    Jimy Bic? Would you want me to mention your Cedar Cliff web site in a book I'm writing on Jackson County NC Natural areas?

  • Jimy Bic

    on November 16, 2017

    Nice hike. Thanks for the Notes.