The hike up Jenkins is long but it isn't terribly difficult, making it perfect for anyone seeking a nice woods ramble that ends in a great view.
By the numbers
- Distance: about 4.5 miles to the summit from both parking areas
- Elevation: 2,513 feet
- Ascent: about 900 feet
From downtown Saranac Lake, take Route 86 west, toward Paul Smiths, for about 10 miles. At the intersection with the college, turn right on Route 30. The VIC is on the left shortly after the turn. The VIC is on the left, about a mile past the turn. Turn into the well-marked driveway and follow it to the large parking area.
Cross the paved road you drove in on and head for the gazebo. Follow the trail as it dips down to Heron Marsh and crosses Barnum Brook, after which it officially becomes the Jenkins Mountain Trail. Continue through a pleasant hardwood forest to a T-intersection and turn right, following the blue trail markers. The trail meanders through the forest without gaining or losing much elevation. It soon passes the Black Pond/Long Pond trail, described below, before passing a couple attractive beaver ponds. Shortly after the ponds, the trail makes a broad sweep around the base of the mountain before the moderate climb to the partially open summit begins. The outstanding view includes waterways and some attractive wilderness peaks.
This is a long, but considered only moderate, ski or shoe, with lots of switchbacks to keep it doable. Keep a look out for blue markings if there's a fresh snow and no trail broken out. Enjoy some sweet transitions from wide path to forest hiking, and when it gets steep it is near the end and the summit.