McKenzie Mountain Jack Rabbit Trail

MODERATE 64 reviews
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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 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.

6.3 miles
2063 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.

8 days 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.

1 month 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.

2 months ago

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

3 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.

6 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!!!

6 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.

6 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.

7 months ago

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

8 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

8 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.

8 months ago

Finished it for our Saranac6er.

8 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

9 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.

9 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.

9 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.

9 months ago

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.

10 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.

11 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!

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11 months ago

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

11 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 :)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

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.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

7/11/16 apparently they had just had a big hard rain up here and the trails were in the Adirondack splendor of Mud roots and wet rocks. we took the drag rabbit in and made a right and climbed up most of mcKenzie. we had a bit of a late start and the scrambling up the wet rocks and the roots took us a long time. we could see the peak very close but we knew it would take at least an hour to get there and it was about 3:30 so we decided to turn back. I think this would be a fabulous hike when it's a little dryer. we saw a couple of mediocre views it was pretty but we worked really hard. Being old and slow it took from about 11 until about 7:30. My GPS read 9.2 miles. I know that the guide says its only 6.3. go figure. Glad to make it out in one piece after a pretty hairy down climb. the jackrabbit trail was really nice tho not terribly exciting

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Used that map:

Was the first on the backside since the snowfall, nice but not always obvious to see where the path goes.

The climb is very steep and very icy, the part from 800m to 1000m took me ~1h15 because of that.

Apparently that connects to the Moose mountain, that will be for next time

Sunday, December 06, 2015

nice hiking trail, or tough trail run. if you come up from 86, after the split for Haystack, the trail is awful( except in winter) until the junction with jackrabbit. I usually take jackrabbit from whiteface inn road first 1.85 miles. turn right, and good hiking. a bit tough, and van be very child up top. there will be two false summits. You will need to do down a good 200 feet then back up 300, so if you didn't do this, you aren't at top. on a good, great dry snowy day, you can attempt a good SLIDE down the trail. only perfect conditions but awesome

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Excellent hike!!!!! We completed McKenzie as part of the Saranac Winter 6r series on a perfect day - sunny, blue skies and 10 degrees. We started off at 1960 ' on the Jack-Rabbit trail near the Whiteface Lodge, headed towards McKenzie hiking 3.9 miles (lots of side trail to check out) over several false peaks on the way to the 3861' summit. Just below the summit we ran into another hiker who offered up a loop trail option which we thought would be fun ... it was, but it was a challenge. After completing the hike we headed over to ring the bell !!

Saturday, June 08, 2013

One of my favourites in the High Peaks. Plenty of large rock scrambles and exposed open rock areas with great views! Very similar to Giant Mountain!

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