Scarface Mountain is just outside of Saranac Lake, on the way to Lake Placid. It is one of the Saranac Lake 6ers but its view is the least open of all the mountains on that list, which is probably why this trail sees less use than the others. That doesn't mean it isn't worth doing, though. Scarface is a fun and unique climb, with plenty to see along the way.
Starting at the trailhead, the path climbs gently through an open forest, then dips down to cross some railroad tracks. Things remain mellow as the route passes through a dense stand of young evergreens before emerging into a beautiful open area dominated by tall red and white pines. Just before the bridge over Ray Brook there's a bench on the left that's dedicated to the memory of Scott McKay, an Australian soldier who died on this mountain in 2014. A destination in its own right, the bridge is only a half mile in and overlooks a beautiful marshy area, where birds and other animals can often be seen.
Past the bridge and a series of boardwalks, the trail stays mostly level as it passes through another forest of tall pines. It eventually begins a gradual climb, then there is one distinctive, well-marked split at the 1.5 mile mark — be sure to bear left here, and take note of this spot for the return trip. The path dips, then begins to climb about a half mile after the split.
The trail ascends the side of Scarface in a series of alternating steep and easy pitches. Occasionally there are areas that require scrambling, but it's nothing compared to some of the bigger mountains in the region. A steep climb at 3 miles ends on a ledge, where there are views. Continuing on, the trail goes 0.1 mile to another open area with views. Many hikers stop here, but to become an official Saranac Lake 6er one must continue for another 0.6 mile to the true summit, which is forested. You'll know you're there when you see a disk on a tree that marks the top at 3,088 feet.
Trailhead: From the intersection of Route 3 and Route 86 in Saranac Lake, follow Route 86 toward Lake Placid. Continue into Ray Brook, take a right onto Ray Brook Road, and look for the parking lot about 0.1 mile down on the left.
Distance: 3.8 miles to the summit
Elevation: 3,088 feet
Ascent: 1,480 feet