A beautiful day in the woods. A 7.2 mile hike via the Jackrabbit trail. We had attempted this same hike from Blodget Road to Bartlett Pond on February 7th but turned around after running out of time and energy. We (Derek mostly) broke trail from the road up.
McKenzie Mountains elevation is 3,861-feet. It is in the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness area, it is visible from many locations in and around Raybrook and Saranac Lake. Unbeknownst to me it was formerly known as Saddleback, this is because from a distance it is shaped like a saddle.
There are 2 main approaches to McKenzie. The 5.3 mile trail from Rt. 86 which is shared with the trail-head to Haystack just west of Ray Brook. We took the Jackrabbit trail from Whiteface Inn Lane which goes behind the Whiteface Inn. From this direction it starts at 1950' in elevation is a little shorter at 7.2 miles round trip compared to 10.5 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 2340’ coming in from the Route 86 trail head.
I found the trail a moderate incline up to the junction of trail that leads to McKenzie (R) and Haystack (L) at 1.8 miles. Less than .5 miles from that junction the trail gets extremely steep, wet (icy), and eroded. Along with steep terrain comes slippery footing and wet or icy conditions. There is a side trail to the right just past the steep section that leads to a look out. From here the main trail (red discs) continues over two or three false summits. There is a glimpse of the final summit on a ledge to the left just before you drop down into a col. There are several areas along the way that have excellent views. The true summit has a disc (and temperature gauge for now), there is also a ledge to the right of the true summit that has views of Bartlet Pond (foreground) and Raybrook and Lake Placid.
Our elevation gain was 1855'