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Alpine Headwaters to the Sacramento River
The road to Cliff Lake is on private property for the last ~0.5 miles, and the west side of the lake itself is private property. Respect the landowner and do not trespass west of the road. Forest service land is East of the lake's outlet, where there is a small campsite with an old fire pit and rundown grill with a brick and mortar chimney.
The Cliff Lakes are the headwaters of the West Fork of the Sacramento River. They create the West Fork Sacramento River, which combines with the North Fork and Middle Fork to become the Sacramento River.
The trail to the lake is a very rough road, which is at one point made up of piles of miscellaneous-sized rocks. Some jeeps and determined folks with four-wheel drive vehicles will make it to the lake, but most cars will not. The road passes by Cedar Lake and Lower Cliff Lake, which are not incredibly scenic compared to the spectacular Cliff Lake that is shrouded by rocky, craggy cliffs. There is a tree trunk to cross the outlet stream to access (slight right) a trail that hugs the edge of Cliff Lake or (slight left) a lightly used trail that continues East of Cliff Lake up the hill leading to Terrace Lake. Terrace Lake is smaller, but the water was still clear, and trees and an open green hillside flank it. There is no defined trail beyond Terrance Lake, but much to explore off-trail where one can find several tiny lakes, including Upper Cliff Lake, where sweeping views are looking out over Cliff Lake.
Several alpine lakes with water.
There are several campsites along the road leading to Cliff Lake and one at the lake itself. Do not camp on private property (see Warning)
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.