McKenzie Mountain Jack Rabbit Trail

HARD 81 reviews
#1 of 2 trails in

McKenzie Mountain Jack Rabbit Trail is a 6.3 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Lake Placid, New York that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. 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.

6.3 miles
2,063 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.

1 day ago

I htink this might have been the toughest of the Saranac 6. We took the Jack Rabbit trail because it as slightly shorter. It starts off going slightly uphill over a lot of ankle-rolling potential rocks. Nothing too tough and at the split we took a right. Once you hit the first climb you will be going up pretty quick! The map in AllTrails is not the actual trail (FYI). There are a few false peaks and then you get to the top with no view. We did go back and took a right at the fork to do Haystack. That was like a little hill travelling that way, much less steep than starting off 86.

1 month ago

Excellent views but you really have to work for them. The trail is very steep and requires some “Adirondack Ninja Warrior” skills at times. Definitely glad to have hiked it when it was dry, as the trail is eroded and there are plenty of rocks that would be slippery when wet.

1 month ago

My girlfriend and I departed at 9:30am from the Jackrabbit trailhead on Whiteface Lodge Lane. We reached the summit shortly after 11:00 am and were back at the car at 12:20. We hiked a solid pace, spent 5 minutes at the summit and hammered back down. The hike started off very moderately along the wide ski trail and at the four way intersection, we turned right for Mt. McKenzie - there was a sketched in sign directing to Mt Mckenzie. Soon after began a steep grinding ascent, the most challenging terrain of the hike. It mellowed it and we reached a false summit continuing to gain elevation but much more gradually. After another false summit, we could see the Summit, so we descended through a small pass to finish a pretty steep last climb to reach the summit. Beautiful views from the top! Challenging hike but super fair and rewarding.

1 month ago

I did this trail as part of my Saranac 6r ultra yesterday! Good day to do it since it was dry! Taking jackrabbit to MacKenzie and Haystack is a better option than the trailhead on Rte 86. From Whiteface Inn Rd, take the jackrabbit until the four-way intersection, turn right to summit MacKenzie (a difficult, poorly marked trail with lost of herd trails and false summits. It helps that people have put sticks blocking the herd trails in some places to indicate not to go that way if you keep an eye out for them.)Then I returned back down to the jackrabbit intersection and turned right (instead of following the sign to Haystack) to find a herd trail about .4 down the path. There's a small cairn on the left that marks it. It's a well-defined and direct route up Haystack! It's about .4 and an easier summit than the marked trail up Haystack. I then returned down and hiked back out to Whiteface Inn rd. This definitely saved a couple of miles off of both mountains to help me get the ultra done.

beautiful hike with many false peaks. most seem to stop before reaching the true summit. it gets much more difficult.

1 month ago

Great hike.but mor technical as expected.It was very slippery and muddy as well.Should be rate Hard not Moderate.But super views and challeging .

1 month ago

Beautiful views, however I would rate this as hard, not moderate. of the 6 ers in terms of difficulty McKenzie, haystack, scarface, ampersand, St Regis and baker as the least difficult. it is most certainly worth the trek though!

2 months ago

Climbed this June12, 2018 with my husband. Trailhead was actually on the left not the right for Jackrabbit Trail. Parking is roadside. I have climbed all but 4, 46 high peaks and I can say this mountain had outstanding views comparatively and was as challenging as a few of the 46. This is a GREAT hike. I would do it again for the views. I like that you have time to warm up before the steep part but then get a break again before the summit. Lots and lots of false summits and herds paths. Needed my map and compass at times on the way up as the trail was not marked well in spots. Marked better with orange blazes on the way down. Trust the app, it definitely gets you there. Enjoy and please remember to be respectful of the private land so we can continue to enjoy this hike. We only met 1 couple on their way up when we were almost back. If you are looking for some quiet this is a good pick. I am a slow hiker. It took us 6 hours start to finish with a 1 hour lunch break at the top.

2 months ago

Most of the initial trail is just an uphill walk, with private properties on either side. However once near the base of the mountain it gets radically steep, a lot of climbing up exposed roots. This trail isnt very technically difficult but the sheer steepness of the last portion to the false summits and summit makes it very taxing on the legs. I made the mistake of getting on this trail after doing an overnight 30km hike in the nearby 46ers. Thinking this would be a nice way to burn some left over energy. Nope! I would venture out on saying this trail is closer to hard then a few of the trails rated hard in the adirondacks for sure.

3 months ago

Hiked this about 2 years ago. It took us about 12 hours, but we took our time as I was 3 monrhs pregnant. Definitely a challenging hike, many very steep and rocky areas. We had to push 2 of our 3 dogs up the last stretch to the summit because it was practically rock climbing, the other dog is part mountain goat. There is a false summit that you can see the true summit from, it was about another hour from there to the actual summit. Not 360 viees, but beautiful none the less. I was definitely sore the next day, but it was a great hike, harder than expected.

4 months ago

My favorite of the Saranac 6ers. Took about 6 hours today, but I was taking my time and stopping to take in all view points. Went on snowshoes, trail is fully broken. Slid down for a good part of the trail. Very fun. Loved the snowy view of Lake Placid at the top.

5 months ago

Very icy! Crampons a must! Not much of a view from the summit.

6 months ago

Lovely mild January day with temperature above the freezing mark until you end up at top. Extremely windy and cold at top with now views. Trek was easy via the Haystack trail until the steep climb at end. Very difficult climb in snowshoes for me as my girlfriend switched out to spikes. Descent was difficult in some areas, so we both opted for short spikes and slid most of the way down. This was our first attempt at snowshoeing in the Adirondacks and not our last.

10 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!!!

10 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.

10 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.

10 months ago

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

11 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

11 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.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Finished it for our Saranac6er.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

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

Saturday, July 22, 2017

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.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

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.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

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.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Was looking for a moderate hike to do if the weather wasn't the best because it was forecasting scattered thunderstorms. After reading some reviews that McKenzie didn't have the greatest views anyways I decided to give it a shot. Trail was fairly easy just muddy up to the Haystack/McKenzie fork. It began very gradually for the first couple miles before climbing. At the split for Haystack or McKenzie the trail gets more difficult basically an uphill rock climb. The fact that it had rained all day and was raining on and off during the hike didn't help. Some parts were very slippery. Overall not a bad or difficult hike. The summit is marked with a sign and some cut outs along the way offer okay views. Took 2.5 hrs to reach the summit in very wet conditions. Attempted to take the SOA trail back down but a pretty severe looking storm rolled in so I opted for the out and back route instead.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

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.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

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!

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

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 :)

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