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Owl's Cliff (off Kancamagus Hwy)

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Owl's Cliff (off Kancamagus Hwy) 


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Location: 44.0447, -71.3618 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Jay Knower, M Sprague, lee hansche, Kristine Hoffman
Submitted By: M Sprague on May 3, 2010
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BETA PHOTO: Trail map to Owl cliff. Ride bikes on the logging ...

Description 

Owl's Cliff consists of two main cliffs located on the peak south of Mt Tremont, south west of Bartlett NH. They can be viewed by looking north from the Kancamagus Highway across a marsh near Passaconaway campground. The two cliffs in the distance make up the "eyes" of the owl. There are lots of Owl cliffs in New England, so this area is not to be confused with Owl's Head in Oliverian Notch nor the one in the Pemigewasset Wilderness to the west.



For the adventurous, if you are willing to bike/hike a little, Owl's offers great granite climbing away from the masses, with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains with little evidence of civilization. The rock is crumbly in spots but mostly nice solid granite up to 250 feet tall. There are many high quality pitches to do here, of all grades, from 5.4 to stiff 13, trad, mixed and sport, slabs, faces, super classic cracks, corners and aretes, with routes up to 4 pitches. Currently, there are about 75 fully established pitches between the two cliffs, with the left cliff having the most (about 50), with many projects in the works and room for many more classic lines. Most climbs are well protected, with modern bolted anchors with rings or heavy quicklinks, though certainly bring you trad skills and self sufficiancy. You will be out there and not close to quick rescue. Most climbs can be done with a single 60 m rope.


Getting There 

See Glenn's map www.mountainproject.com/v/new_hampshire/owls_cliff/106821360 Owl's is approached off Bear Notch road. The easiest way seems to be to go in via Rob Brook Rd, a wide, well graded, gated forest road. People have approached from various points further north up Bear Notch Rd., but, though they look shorter as the crow flies, they mostly entail more up and down climbing and more bushwhacking through difficult terrain. For only going to the Right Cliff, some have reported that coming in from high on Bear Notch road, then rapping in from the top works well, taking about an hour (of course you then have would have to top out some how). I haven't done this myself, so can't give directions for that way. There isn't any real quick way between the two main cliffs, so you should probably pick one or the other for the day.



To go in the Rob Brook way, hike or bike in about 2.5 miles and you should see a sign on your right for the Brunel Trail. If you are not over loaded, a bike will really shave off time and make the trip out and back much more fun. Continue past the Brunel for a few hundred yards and take a right @N44.02302 W71.35633 up a grassy forest road. When you come to a "Y" take a right, following the arrows for the snowmobiles. In the guide, Handren mentions a shortcut we used to use that cuts off just before the "Y". We found it only saves a couple minutes and is steeper. Don't bother with it. Just after the forest road gains its highpoint but several hundred yards before it recrosses the Brunel, keep an eye out for a good sized cairn on the left near N44.03455 W71.35921. Bushwhack in following more cairns to find the remains of a skidder trail @N44.03499 W71.35893. This should all be easy to follow. The bushwhack is a few minutes past a steep heavely eroded section, just after a seaonal stream crosses the trail, and a yellow arrow sign on a tree on you right. Head up the skidder trail, which peters out into a game/climber trail up the hillside, to eventually get to the Oracle Boulders @ N44.04223 W71.35942. The largest of these, the Gun Sight Boulder, has a 5 bolt route up an arete. From the uphill side of these you break right or left and up depending on which cliff you are going to. Along the way, about 10 minutes before you would get to the Oracle Boulders, there is a "T" junction at the top of a short steep section, marked by a cairn. Left goes up to the crags and right leads to good water in about 3 minutes@ N44.04129 W71.35745 (not the minipond you first come to, but a stream issuing forth from a spring at a rock). Be especially considerate about not relieving your self anywhere even remotely near the spring, please.

I have added the GPS coordinates(UTM UPS, WGS 84), which should make it clear going. For Google maps, just flip the order of the coordinates, replace the "W" with a "-", and take out the "N". Total travel distance from parking to get to the left cliff is about 4.7 miles. The hike in can be a beast with a heavy pack. Pack accordingly, while being aware that the cliffs are pretty high up and can go from hot to cold quickly. Bears and Moose are often encountered as well as some very cool owls. During bug season they seem especially bad here due to the marshes and running water below, so unless you like hiking with a heavy pack in a full bug suite, avoid the cliff then. Remember you are out there and need to be self sufficient. I do seem to get some limited cell service on top of the cliff, but not on the hike in or along the Kanc, so pack you phone, but don't rely on it.

For your first time, with a bike, figure about 1-1/2 hrs to get to the right cliff going in this way, 2 hrs if carrying a giant pack and no bike. Add five or ten minutes to get to the left cliff. It gets faster once you do it a few times. I have made it in in just over an hour without a bike, jog-trotting with a light pack.


Guidebooks 

Jerry Handren's generally excellent guide 'North Conway Rock Climbs' is mostly up to date as of 2012 and devotes 14 pages to Owl's. It includes great photos, overviews, GPS points and maps. North Conway Rock Climbs


46 Total Routes


['4 Stars',6],['3 Stars',18],['2 Stars',17],['1 Star',5],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',3],['5.7',2],['5.8',6],['5.9',2],['5.10',9],['5.11',5],['5.12',17],['5.13',2],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Owl's Cliff (off Kancamagus Hwy):
Zig Zag   5.9 5c 17 VI HVS 5a     Sport, 1 pitch, 100'   The Right Cliff : The Well Balanced Slabs
Crack of the World   5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- E4 6a     Trad, 4 pitches, 200'   The Left Cliff : RGC - Open Spaces Area
Browse More Classics in Owl's Cliff (off Kancamagus Hwy)

Featured Route For Owl's Cliff (off Kancamagus Hwy)
Crack of the World 11c - Pat and Madeline McElaney starting on the third pitch

Crack of the World 5.11c 6c+ 24 VIII- E4 6a  NH : Owl's Cliff (off Kancamagu... : ... : RGC - Open Spaces Area
Standing at the base, below The Smoky Dike, look to the left and up high. On the skyline you will see a zigging handcrack up an arching flake. Get in the right spot and you can actually see right through it. Here is how you get there, because I know you want to:Pitch 1 starts in the left facing, big corner to the left of Owl's Highway. Because the bottom is wet, head up the finger crack just left of it, which then arches over and brings you back to the corner. Continue u...[more]   Browse More Classics in NH

Photos of Owl's Cliff (off Kancamagus Hwy) Slideshow Add Photo
Owl's from the Kanc
Owl's from the Kanc
My FA of Egg Cracker, a fun 5.10 on the Laughing Owl buttress. I climbed the moderate corner then underclinged a roof right to gain a finger crack, which took me up to the final roof, split by a wide crack. The Laughing Owl area has some of the more moderate routes of Owl's Cliff
My FA of Egg Cracker, a fun 5.10 on the Laughing O...
My seven year old on Ruffled Feathers
My seven year old on Ruffled Feathers
Christina on her route Ruffled Feathers 5.7
Christina on her route Ruffled Feathers 5.7
Zach on Zig-Zag 5.9
Zach on Zig-Zag 5.9
Showing the steepness of the second pitch of the trad route,  Lady of the Lake 5.10+. The nose is the top of Butolicious, a 12a/b sport route that follows a 30m arete system mostly hidden below. The rope is hanging down from the top of the 3rd pitch of Sporty Owl, a mixed 11c that starts with an offwidth to hand crack, then an overhanging stem corner, a little slab, and finishes up bolted overhanging face - Sporty Area, Left Cliff of Owl's
BETA PHOTO: Showing the steepness of the second pitch of the t...
looking up at the diving board, or Butolicious 12 a/b
looking up at the diving board, or Butolicious 12 ...
Olga balancing across the no hands section of the third pitch traverse of The RGC. Dave Quinn's classic 4 pitch 11c, Crack of the World, can be seen in the background
Olga balancing across the no hands section of the ...
A blurry long range overview from the Kancamagus Highway of the two main cliffs of Owl's. The left cliff can be seen well, but the right one is facing off to the right, especially the impresssive and badly sandbag named "5.10 Wall", seen on edge.
A blurry long range overview from the Kancamagus H...
Warming up the muscles on an unnamed 5.10a, Sporty Area, Owl's Cliff Left <br />Climber - Olga Mirkina <br />
Warming up the muscles on an unnamed 5.10a, Sporty...
Owl Be Seeing You near the top
Owl Be Seeing You near the top
Black bear and cub seen at Owl's. Note the helmet of the climber they devoured.
Black bear and cub seen at Owl's. Note the helmet ...
Climbing at the owl
Climbing at the owl
One of the nice boulders out at Owl's Cliff. This one is found by taking a spur off to the left a few hundred feet, a few hundred yards before you get to the Oracle boulders. It has good climbing almost all the way around it, and a nice flat landing. Dave Quinn developed most of the routes here. I'm not sure if he ever gave it a name.
One of the nice boulders out at Owl's Cliff. This ...
Comments on Owl's Cliff (off Kancamagus Hwy) Add Comment
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By john strand
From: southern colo
May 5, 2010

Well it;s about time ! This is a great crag with nice climbing and not too much of a thrash to get in. A fair number of established climbs and still some projects. Bugs, Bugs & Bugs

By Morgan Patterson
Administrator
Dec 13, 2012

I really want to climb here. . .