Saranac Lake 6er: A Lead-up Hiking Challenge to the 46ers

Let the Adirondack Mountains inspire you! Earn a patch and some bragging rights by completing the Saranac Lake 6er hiking challenge. In this article, I’m sharing the best Saranac Lake 6ers to start with, trailhead locations, and my personal experience.  

A Girl smiles on Haystack Mountain
Haystack Mountain with the High Peaks in the Background

How Do You Hike the Saranac Lake  6er?

Hike all 6 Saranac Lake Mountains! On each hike be sure to record the date and time you began your hike and the date and time you ended your hike. This is especially important for anyone completing the Saranac Lake 6er Ultra Challenge. The registration form also asks for a photo from each hike.

There is a $15 fee to submit your form and earn your certificate and patch!

What Saranac Lake 6er Hiking Challenges are There?

  • Winter 6er: Hike all six mountains between December and March 
  • Saranac Lake Ultra 6er: Hike all six summits in a 24-hour period
  • Winter Ultra 6er: Hike all  six summits in a 24-hour period between December and March

Saranac 6er List


Baker Mountain 

Baker Mountain Trailhead Map
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  • Distance: 1.8 miles roundtrip
  • Elevation: 2,452 feet
  • Ascent: 884 feet

A perfect one to start with! Located right outside of the town of Saranac Lake at 2,452ft., and less than 2 miles out and back, this is a very popular mountain in the region.

The new requirement for this trail is that you start and end your hike from the Saranac 6er Bell in Berkeley Square. This makes the trail just under a mile to the summit.

Baker Mountain Trailhead

From the trailhead, at Moody Pond, you have a short, steady climb to the summit where you will enjoy views of the High Peaks, the village of Saranac Lake, and the McKenzie Mountain Wilderness. 

You can complete Baker Mountain as a loop or an out and back. The loop is slightly longer. It’s less steep and provides a peaceful walk through the woods.

St. Regis Mountain

St. Regis Trailhead  Map
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  • Distance: 6.6 Miles Roundtrip
  • Elevation: 2,874 feet
  • Ascent: 1,266 feet

The St. Regis trailhead can be found right outside the Paul Smiths College campus on Keese Mill Road. Although it is a long trail at 3.3 miles one way, the steady1,200-foot ascent makes it a perfect beginner mountain for improving stamina and becoming acquainted with the Adirondacks.

The final push to the summit includes a stone staircase of sorts and some very light rock scrambling before you’re met with a stunning view. Improve your view by climbing the fire tower (and knock out two challenges with one hike!).  

The St. Regis Mountain Summit

If you choose to hike this Saranac Lake 6er in winter, be sure to pack ample snacks and layers seeing as this is a longer snowshoe. Snowshoes are necessary to avoid post-holing and microspikes may be needed as you near the summit.

You will not be disappointed with the new perspective winter brings; frozen lakes among a sea of frosty mountain tops will have you in awe.

Lookout over St. Regis Mountain

Haystack Mountain

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Distance: 7.2 Miles Round Trip
Elevation: 2,878 feet
Ascent: 1,729 feet

Haystack Mountain is not to be confused with the third-highest High Peak, Mount Haystack, which is 4,960 feet high. Haystack Mountain is a Saranac Lake 6er with beautiful views of the High Peaks Wilderness.

The parking area can be found on the North side of Route 86 between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake. The 3.3-mile-long trail to the summit begins easy and gets quite steep after crossing the dam.

The summit ledge provides outstanding views and a great space for a summit nap. 

I combined this hike with McKenzie Mountain and made it an overnight trip. Combining the two trails makes for a VERY long day hike. We stayed in the lean-to off the JackRabbit XC Ski trail, hiking McKenzie Mountain one day and Haystack the next.

Scarface Mountain

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Distance: 7.4 Miles Roundtrip
Elevation: 3,088 feet 
Ascent: 1,480 feet

This Saranac Lake 6er trailhead is located just off Route 86. Turn onto Ray Brook Road at the gas station and look for the trailhead about .1 miles down on the left.

This is a long hike at 3.7 miles one way to a wooded summit. The route starts out mellow, passing through dense young evergreens before emerging into a beautiful more open area dominated by tall red and white pines. 

Awesome bridges over a boggy marshland in the Adirondack Mountains

The bridge over Ray Brook is only a half-mile in and overlooks a beautiful marshy area before you meet a number of boardwalks. 

The trail eventually begins a gradual climb where the pitches will alternate between steep and easy. When you make it to the clearing, which provides some beautiful views of the Adirondacks, you still have another .6 miles to travel to the true summit!

You will know you’ve arrived when you see the (currently) white trail marker that reads Scarface. Although the route is long and without great payoff, it’s a beautiful hike and the summit I completed my Saranac Lake 6er hiking challenge on! 

The view from a ledge .25 miles from the summit.

Ampersand Mountain

Distance: 5.4 Miles Round Trip
Elevation: 3,353 feet
Elevation Gain: 1,775 feet

The trailhead lies between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake on Route 3. A mellow start turns into a relentlessly steep climb to the bald summit.

Even though this hike is only about 5.5 miles Round Trip, allow for ample time to complete this climb. It is seemingly, endlessly steep and the summit is exceptionally beautiful. You might want to stay up there for a while!

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Dress appropriately and pack layers! In early October, my friend and I started our hike in the sunshine wearing t-shirts. On our hike, we encountered snow and found ourselves rifling through our bags for our puffy jackets, hats, and gloves on the summit.

The view included frosted tips of distant mountains surrounded by gorgeous fall foliage and was well worth the climb. 

Snowing on the summit during Autumn

McKenzie Mountain

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*This trail includes Haystack*
  • Distance: 10.6 Miles Round Trip (without Haystack)
  • Elevation: 3,822 feet
  • Ascent: 2,340 feet

This Saranac Lake 6er shares a parking lot with Haystack Mountain. You will begin your hike just North of Route 86  between Lake Placid and Saranac Lake.

Your hike will start off the same as Haystack. At the dam, you will start a steady ascent to the Jackrabbit Trail. If you’re staying overnight, turn right on the Jackrabbit Trail until you see the shelter. We decided to hike McKenzie and Haystack in an overnight trip because McKenzie alone is over a 10-mile day! 

If you’re not camping, continue on. From the Jackrabbit trail, McKenzie can be a brutal, muddy mess of false summits and “am I there yets?”. All jokes aside, it’s a super fun trail, albiet tough!

Gaining 1,000 feet of elevation in little over half a mile is tough but comes with stunning payoffs. You will traverse McKenzie’s “5 summits” where you can find a number of side paths that provide ledges with spectacular views of the Adirondacks. 

What Do I Do When I’m Done With the Saranac 6ers?

Well first and foremost, you have to ring the bell located at Berekley Green in town!

Next, complete the online registration and patiently await your goodies!

What Other Adirondack Hiking Challenges Are There?

The Saranac Lake 6er Hiking Challenge is an awesome project that I would consider a great step up from the Fulton Chains Trifecta and the Tupper Lake Triad. The trails are a little longer and the summits are a tad higher.

If you’re looking for a challenge a little tougher than the Saranac 6, I would look into the Lake Placid 9er or the Lake George 12! Completing all these challenges is a great lead-up to the Adirondack 46 High Peaks.

7 thoughts on “Saranac Lake 6er: A Lead-up Hiking Challenge to the 46ers”

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