“Two of the Saranac Lake Sixers, McKenzie & Haystack, make for a great double dip.”
— Mike Biolsi
Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall
For a long day of running with some uphill workouts, try this dual-peak run. 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 run to conquer only one of the two.
This trail is very wet and muddy, so bring shoes with deep lugs.
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 run. 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 run 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 runner 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 run climbs Haystack first to serve as a warmup for the strenuous run up McKenzie. However, as said before, you can skip either peak and still have a pleasant experience!