Scarface is one of the six mountains included in the Saranac Lake 6er challenge, but it's proximity to downtown Lake Placid makes it a worthwhile destination while you're in town.
Initially the trail follows old roads over relatively flat terrain; eventually the trail begins a steady climb. Side trails lead to an open ledgewith views overlooking Oseetah Lake and the Saranac Lakes chain. The other views on the trail require some bushwhacking, and the summit itselfdoes not offer a view.
How to get there
From downtown Lake Placid, follow Route 86 toward Saranac Lake. Continue into Ray Brook and take a left onto Ray Brook Road (by the Maplefield's gas station) and follow for 0.1 miles to the trailhead on the left.
By the numbers
- Distance: 3.8 miles to the summit
- Elevation: 3,088 feet
- Elevation Gain: 1,480 feet
The hike is 3.8 miles one-way over varied terrain, which at times is quite steep. From the trailhead you will you climb a bit and work your way through an open forest to the railroad tracks. Cross the railroad tracks and continue on a mellow hike all the way to the bridge over Ray Brook. This spot is a very nice area for a short destination hike.
Past the bridge the trail stays very mellow through a forest of tall pines. There is one very distinctive trail split, so be sure to take a left at this point; the split is well marked. The trail begins to climb a bit and very soon begins to get steeper. As the terrain gets steeper the footing gets a bit less favorable, but it makes for a little adventure. Along these steep slopes as you gain more elevation there are some areas that require a bit of scrambling. As the trail starts to get less aggressive there are a few decent views off over the trees of the distant High Peaks. The trail moderates before reaching the unofficial summit.
The trail at one point stops at the first landing with open views (unofficial summit), but this is not the true summit though it's technically the final spot to get a view. Many hikers stop here, short of the wooded summit that does not offer any views. A narrow path continues over the summit and into a much darker forest. The trail meanders through and eventually ends at the true summit where there is a trail disk on a tree marking the top at 3,088 feet.
Scarface Mountain in winter
Snowshoes are necessary to avoid post-holing through the snowpack, and snow spikes are required to ascend the mountain's steeper sections. Extra layers of non-cotton clothing, a windbreaker, emergency blanket, first-aid kit, headlamp with extra batteries, and plenty of food and water are essential items for any winter excursion.