McKenzie Mountain Jack Rabbit Trail

MODERATE 58 reviews
#1 of 3 trails in

McKenzie Mountain Jack Rabbit Trail is a 6.4 mile out and back trail located near Lake Placid, New York that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

6.4 miles
2047 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash



mountain biking

nature trips





wild flowers

McKenzie Mountain is a 3,861-foot (1,177m) mountain in western Essex County in the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness area which spans an area of 36,200 acres. This loop trail starts near the Whiteface Inn Lane in Lake Placid at the trail head for the Jack Rabbit Ski trail. This trail continues for 1.9 miles where it meets up with the junction for McKenzie Pond, Route 86 or McKenzie summit. Up until this point the grade is light. Once you reach the junction the red markers direct you towards the summit and the trail soon begins a very steep climb over several false summits, some with excellent views. At 3.5 miles you reach the summit. You can turn around or continue down the backside trail (SOA) which descends steeply at first and then includes a nice gradual walk through the woods, down to the lake and eventually back out onto the road which is a short run to the original trailhead.

3 months ago

We hiked McKenzie on 10/01/17.
The weather was perfect, around 65 degrees for the high. We started from whiteface inn lane. The jack rabbit trail is off this, about 1.4 miles down on the left. There is a pull off on the opposite side of the road, with room for about 6 cars. It's easy to miss, we did... if you see blodgett way on your left you missed it. Turn around and it's just up the road on the right.
The jack rabbit trail is a nice hike in, a wide dirt road with only a few wet spots. After hiking about 1.9 miles you come to a 4 way junction. Turn right here for McKenzie. It's not marked, but the trail will have red DEC markers. Some of the disks are so worn they are merely white round disks.
The first mile or so of the trail is a nice gradual climb. Enjoy it, after this section it gets much tougher. The high peaks trails guide lists five summits that you will ascend. For us, it seemed like one long hard slog up a steep and rocky climb. We encountered a lot of rocky ledges and some loose scree. Luckily there seemed to be a tree or bush near the trail to grab on to as you hoist yourself up.
Beware of these trees, some are quite loose. Give a tug on them before trusting them to bear your weight...
We were hiking with our dog Stella. She is a young and athletic lab. She was able to jump up most of the ledges, but we did have to lift her up over some of the higher ones. And there were a few boulders that we had to lead her up the best paths. McKenzie is doable for a young trail wise dog. But a bad choice for a younger pup or an older dog. This was a difficult hike for Stella both up and down...
There is a clear false summit. However there is a lookout on the left which allows you to see the true summit about a half mile away. You have to descend a very steep grade and than climb a rough bit before reaching the true peak!
It's marked by a sign, and someone attached a thermometer below it!
Btw, it showed a balmy 38 degrees!
There are two lookouts on top and the view is definitely worth the climb!!
After a break for lunch we headed down. It's a slow grind, as you need to be careful descending on the rocky path.
On the steepest sections we would lead Stella down on leash. Than one of us would descend below her while the other held her in place. This allowed us to slow her descent and enthusiasm and keep her safe. Slow and steady here, kept all of us injury free! The descent was hard on old knees and joints. But it's very doable as long as you pay attention.
One mention about the trail. It's not very well marked. The DEC markers are widely spaced. Someone had tied orange ribbons on the trail, but in a few cases the orange markers caused us to miss the trail.
We did a bit more hiking than necessary because of this, but we were always able to find the trail again. Keep this in mind as you are hiking, please...
All in all this is a great hike. Listed as moderate, and it may be, but the terrain makes it challenging. And at around 3860 feet, it's just under a fourty sizer!
Btw, this was our last mountain for the saranac lake six. For us, it was the toughest of them all!!!

3 months ago

if you're looking for a trail that is challenging but not too far away, this is the trail for you. I began at the haystack trail head on route 86, which is the recommended start to earn the Saranac 6er. This is a challenging trail which I would not bring children on.

3 months ago

From the Route 86 Ray Brook parking area it's a 10.6 mile round trip to the summit of McKenzie and back. My route for this review. McKenzie is my first mountain of the Saranac Lake 6 Challenge along with Haystack (mtn #2) on Day 1. From the parking area to the split in the trail left to Haystack or right to McKenzie the terrain is fairly easy, muddy and rocky with rolling hills. However, that soon changes after the split as the McKenzie trail gets steeper and the trail more challenging. I would rate it the toughest of the Saranac Lake 6ers and glad I hiked it first. The trail is poorly marked in places and I'm thankful to whomever tied orange streamers to trees to mark the trail when red trail markers were no where in sight. The terrain is so rugged in spots that it took me 55 minutes to ascend one mile. From Rt 86 trail head to the summit of McKenzie it took me 3.5 hrs at a moderate pace. Overall, a tough and enjoyable hike - definitely a good workout.

4 months ago

Beautiful views but difficult trail. For us it was not a moderate but a hard!

4 months ago

we came up the jackrabbit Trail hit Haystack came back down went up McKenzie mud not too bad stayed on the summit for the eclipse walk down the back side on the SOA Trail nice round trip did away with the mud and rocks on the front excellent way to finish up the Saranac 6er

5 months ago

This trail is a beast. I saw an Oriole and a bluebird. Saw a few hawks at the summit.

The trail is in really rough shape in many spots. Great views from the ledges. I would rank this as more difficult than "moderate" as AT has it listed at. There is quite a bit of actual climbing involved.

5 months ago

Finished it for our Saranac6er.

5 months ago

Went after it rained. Very muddy. There is a long part that is challenging steep uphill rock climbing action almost. A bit difficult with slippery rock face. Beautiful scenic views, cool crisp air and not crowded at all. Challenging hike overall

5 months ago

not sure who thought it would be a good idea to build a trail up a stream but that's this trail. not a whole lot of fun really. challenging though. don't do it after a good rain super slick.

6 months ago

Jackrabbit was pretty muddy, however, it was worth it to take a quicker side excursion up the backside of Haystack which is far less steep than the southern side. Mckenzie had lots of run off and was muddy, but it was well worth the challenge and quick views on the way up. Beware of the false summits. There is a sign waiting for you at the finish if you have any question.

6 months ago

A great hike with some excellent views! the first 1.5 miles or so is extremely easy, with a lot of it being what looks like a private dirt road. The next mile and a half after turning right off the jackrabbit trail gets very difficult with a near straight incline. If you hike after the rain, many parts of the trail will be a creek and extremely muddy which can make it tough. Overall a very fun and challenging short hike.

7 months ago

First half of hike is easy. Second half is much, much more difficult. Summit nothing spectacular. Some nice views on way up. Second half does have quite a few challenging moments- I.e, rock climbing and muddy terrain. Expect a good work out.

8 months ago

This trail was moderate for the first 2.3 miles but the 1.3 miles when you hit elevation was difficult since the trail is horribly marked and you get lost since it seems odd you need to rock climb to stay on the path!
The views were worth it but it took me longer than average to get to the top due to constantly getting lost!

For my full review subscribe to my blog

8 months ago

HARD hike. Very steep second half that doesn't let up.

8 months ago

Crazy! About 2 miles in is the fork to go to McKenzie or Haystack. We went to McKenzie. The last mile is straight up. Almost to the top and to the right is a small clearing/look out point. Great view!!! The top of the mountain is quite overgrown with a small viewing area. Totally worth the pain following this hike :)

9 months ago

Good hiking but not enough point of view along the trail.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Good country ski trail.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Foot trail is extremely difficult with loose rocks, trees & roots and water falling from multiple sources. If you take your time however and are up for a challenge go for it. Not for the beginner, that's for sure.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Great hike, but beware there is a false summit that is reached and you may think you're done but that is when the actual summit becomes visible. A few tricky areas but overall was a very fun hike.

Load More