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Friday, September 3, 2010

Adirondack cliff jumping

BluffIsland on Lower Saranac Lake. Photo by Susan Bibeau.

Bluff Island on Lower Saranac Lake. Photo by Susan Bibeau.

Bluff Island is a well-known landmark on Lower Saranac Lake. It’s easily reached by a short paddle from the Route 3 bridge west of the village of Saranac Lake. Head north through First Pond and enter a channel. As you emerge from the channel, you’ll see Bluff Island straight ahead, less than a mile from the highway.

The south side of the island features a seventy-foot cliff that rises straight up from the water. Occasionally, rock climbers scale the precipice. The guidebook Adirondack Rock says of Bluff: “it’s one-star climbing in a five-star location.”

Bluff Island is probably better known for cliff jumping. In fact, the silent-movie serial The Perils of Pauline included a scene in which the heroine leaped off the cliff on horseback.

Most people don’t jump from the top of the cliff. Once you get up there, you realize that seventy feet is a long way down. You could get hurt. And people have.

Nevertheless, daredevils continue to take the plunge. Chris Knight, a reporter with the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, recently shot this video of his friend leaping from the top. We recommend that you enjoy the jump strictly as a vicarious pleasure.

Phil Brown

Contributor Phil Brown was editor of the Adirondack Explorer from 1999-2018. When he isn't at his desk, he's usually out hiking, paddling, skiing, or doing something else important.

3 Responses

  1. TimothyD11 says:

    I LOVE cliff jumping – and the height doesn’t bother me – what scares the HELL out of me – unless it’s an illusion – is having to clear the cliff down below. If you MUST run and jump, and you trip or something, or your momentum is slowed in any way you may not make it to the water.

    If it was a STRAIGHT drop to the water the height wouldn’t bother me!

  2. Josh says:

    Bluff Island is an awesome spot for deep water soloing (climbing unroped over deep water). It’s actually the only one I know of in the Park. Anyone comfortable climbing in the 5.7 – 5.9 range can find a host of climbs on the cliff – there are at least 10 “routes” that can be climbed right out of the water. The cliff can be traversed back and forth at about mid-height as well for a great workout. The obvious broken dike and crack system in the center offers the easiest (and cleanest) route to the top.

  3. Faith Bogdan says:

    I jumped off this cliff today, not at the peak but at a lower ledge, probably 40 to 50 feet. I sustained a compression injury to my spine. Please do not attempt this unless you are a professional diver and know what you are doing! I am so disappointed in Saranac lake campground for not placing a warning sign, as the paramedics told me that this type of injury happens here a lot.

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