Balm of Gilead Mountain Cliffs, NY

I’ve wanted to post about the cliffs on Balm of Gilead Mountain for quite a while now. We hike up to the outcrop regularly, but I never seem to get pictures that represent the true beauty of the view.

Balm of Gilead Mountain sign

My last walk was no different, except this time I’m posting.

For me the hike starts from the Garnet Hill Lodge Ski Center in North River, NY. It’s not an official trailhead, but it’s probably ok to park here in the summer when lodge demand for parking is lower than it is in winter.  If you’d like to use this access point, I’d recommend asking for permission in the ski shop or in the lodge.

It’s not an easy hike up, but it’s not hard either. The 600 feet of vertical over six-tenths of a mile is short and steep. The forest is mature, pleasant to walk through, and if you know how to get to the top on skis, it makes for a great descent.


As you climb the last 100 feet of vert, there’s a sense of arrival at the top; you see light behind the tree tops indicating cliffs ahead.

Slowly you come “over the horizon” and get in some knarly tight trees and prominent boulders.


At the top you first see Puffer Mountain through the slot in the rock that allows access to the cliffs.

When you come onto the outcrop, the rift that forms Thirteenth Lake and the surrounding hills open up in front of you. Beneath you.

Puffer and Bullhead

To me this spot is extra special.  It’s so close to our cabin and it’s a great way to get real exercise if you only have an hour.  It seems odd to call the view a bonus, it is so beautiful.  If these vistas were at the end of a five mile hike, I think they’d be prized above all.

For me, the icing on the cake, is that from the cliffs, I can see the ski terrain in the garnet hills that I know so well. Or knew ten years ago.  I will return.

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