The numerous large boulders, nestled in a quiet forest setting with soft landings and an easy approach, make McKenzie Pond the best bouldering destination in the Adirondacks. Its distance from major cities also means it rarely sees the huge crowds that sometimes plague other quality crags. Even when the pullouts are full of cars it can feel empty due to its spread out nature.
Behind its inviting exterior lies a beast with bite. The rock is sharp and climbing hard for more than a couple of days takes tips of steel. With over 100 problems spread over a broad range of grades, and convenient camping and amenities, McKenzie Pond is a great weekend destination.
The boulders are located on state land but border private land to the south. Please be respectful of the neighbors.
You can find the most up to date information in Adirondack Rock, but unless you also enjoy the awesome roped climbing in the Dacks this book might be a bit overkill. Aside from the occassional broken hold not much has changed over the years, and the free McKenzie Pond Bouldering Guide is more than enough to get you around.
The best conditions can be had in the early spring and fall. In late spring be prepared to spend more time fighting off blackflies than climbing. During the summer humidity and mosquitoes will be your enemy. Rain can be hard to predict due to the mountainous terrain, but if the breeze is blowing the rock will dry quickly.
McKenzie Pond is located between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, just off of Route 86 on McKenzie Pond Rd (County Hwy 33). From Saranac Lake follow Route 86 towards Lake Placid for approximately 3mi (4.8km) and turn left on McKenzie Pond Rd. From Main Street in Lake Placid follow Route 86 towards Saranac Lake for 5.5mi (9km) and turn right on McKenzie Pond Rd. After 0.6mi (1km) you will come to a small pullout on the right. If it is full there are additional pullouts further up the road.
Follow the obvious trail into the woods from the pullout. The first set of boulders is no more than 20 meters from the trailhead and all of the areas are within a few hundred meters of the road.
The nearest campground is Meadowbrook Campground, located 1.1mi (1.8km) east of the boulders on Route 86 (1174 NYS Route 86, 518-891-4351). It is open from May 21st to the first weekend of September and rates start at $18. Free camping is also available year round on unserviced sites along S Meadows Rd, located 30 minutes from the boulders. Follow Route 86 through Lake Placid and turn right on Route 73. After 3.3mi (5.3km) turn right onto Adirondack Loj Rd, follow it for 3.7mi (6km) and turn left on S Meadows Rd. Campsites can be found all along this road. For those looking for more comfort there are many motels around Lake Placid.
Both Saranac Lake and Lake Placid offer numerous eating options. There are 2 large grocery stores on Route 86, one just outside Saranac Lake and the other just outside Lake Placid.
There is an Eastern Mountain Sports in downtown Lake Placid (2453 Main Street, 518-523-2505).
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