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McKenzie Mountain & Haystack Mountain



11.9 mile 19.1 kilometer loop


Ascent: 3,811' 1,162 m
Descent: -3,811' -1,161 m
High: 3,861' 1,177 m
Low: 1,680' 512 m


Avg Grade: 12% (7°)
Max Grade: 68% (34°)


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Trail shared by Mike Biolsi

Two of the Saranac Lake Sixers, McKenzie & Haystack, make for a great double dip.

Mike Biolsi

Features Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall


For a long day of hiking with some uphill workouts, try this dual-peak hike. The first peak, Haystack, crosses water and challenges you with some small rock scrambles. The second peak, McKenzie, has very steep inclines with large boulders and challenges, including a few false summits. Both offer beautiful views from the summit. If time is short, you can trim this hike to conquer only one of the two.


The DEC sign at Rt. 86 in Ray Brook (located between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid) shows this as a trail to Haystack Mountain (3.3 miles) and McKenzie Mountain (5.3) and is marked with blue trail markers from the beginning of the hike. This difficult terrain is usually wet and slippery, making the footing difficult.

The shared part of the trail climbs gently, beginning at an elevation of 1670’. You'll hike along (and in) a brook for the first few miles. Changing from pine needles to rock, the trail increases in roughness as it progresses. Many of the man-made log bridges that were once provided to avoid muddy patches have decayed from years of trail neglect.

At 2.4 miles, the trail to Haystack (blue blazes) branches off to the left, while the trail to McKenzie (RED) continues on to the right. Though this fork in the trail is very well marked, it is not uncommon for people to miss it—Since the trail has become steeper, the average hiker is looking down and not seeing the signs.

Both trails provide a challenge from this point onward. Haystack is better suited for families and those with dogs. McKenzie is a great workout for those who appreciate steep uphill.

As routed, this hike climbs Haystack first to serve as a warmup for the strenuous hike up McKenzie. However, as said before, you can skip either peak and still have a pleasant experience!


Land Manager: NY DEC - Region 5 Office

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Aug 19, 2017
Mike Biolsi
Jan 18, 2017
Andrew Tomich
Hard, fun, climb up frozen stream 14mi

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  4.0 from 2 votes
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99 Views Last Month
3,654 Since Aug 17, 2017



View of the High Peaks region from the top of McKenzie Mountain.
Aug 17, 2017 near Saranac…, NY
Haystack Mountain Summit
Sep 4, 2017 near Saranac…, NY
View from the summit,
Jun 26, 2019 near Saranac…, NY
Another summit view.
Jun 26, 2019 near Saranac…, NY
Manmade dam at 2.5 miles
Sep 4, 2017 near Saranac…, NY
A fork in the trail. Left (BLUE) for Haystack. Right (RED) for McKenzie.
Aug 20, 2017 near Saranac…, NY