Last week I wrote a column on favorite hikes. I thought about doing another one, and maybe a series. Although at first I dismissed the idea of ââhaving a favorite hike saying my favorite is the one I’m on, it’s interesting to probe my memory for the ones I enjoy the most. It also inspires others to go.
Mount Ingalls (2,242 feet) in Shelburne is a fun hike. It combines a path view of the wide and beautiful valley of the Androscoggin River with the presidentials in the distance, and a small high mountain pond.
First, how to get there. Starting with a fun ride on Route 16 through Pinkham Notch, you turn right onto Route 2 at Gorham and travel 10 miles left onto Meadow Road. Crossing a bridge in the meantime you turn left at a T onto North Road and within 50 yards take a right onto dirt Mill Brook Road. In half a mile turn right at the sign for the Scudder Trail on Mount Ingalls. Drive for about 100 meters to the parking lot.
The Shelburne Trails Club takes great care of the trail. I once did it in July. I started a logging route on the trail and they had actually mowed a wide swath of tall grass to protect hikers from ticks.
At a crossroads 1.3 km, you take a left at the top of the mountain and the great views of the valley below begin soon.
The summit is in the trees and without a view. But make sure you go down a short path on the other side to Ray’s Pond, a small mountain pond. Spend a moment there. It’s a gathering point for wildlife, like the herd of cedar waxwings I saw there once in early fall, or a million tadpoles I saw there in July. Use your imagination there. The little pond is an eye on the universe.
The foliage is starting and one of the first places to go for fall color is Zealand Notch. The marsh maples are already on fire there. On the slopes above, the birches have turned yellow and the maples are probably starting to turn. Today would be a good day to go. Zealand Notch foliage comes and goes quickly and you will miss it if you wait for the foliage spike further south.
To get there, take Route 302 past Crawford Notch. Six and a half miles after AMC Highland Center turn left onto Zealand Road at Zealand Campground. Cross the bridge and continue to the end of the dirt road at the start of the Zealand Trail.
This is a classic trail in the notch, passing many bogs with flamboyant foliage and offering views of the surrounding peaks. At 2.5 miles it ends at a three-way junction. Stay there on the Twinway for a 0.2 mile run to AMC Zealand Falls Hut.
The cabin is full service until mid-October and it’s fun to check out the place and sit on the porch for lunch, with a view of the Pemigewasett Wilderness and Mount Carrigain in the distance.
Trying to think of an easy hike with a great view, I envisioned Jockey Cap (610ft) in Fryeburg, Maine. For those who have never been, this is a quick and fun outing. The Jockey Cap Country Store just below also has some great take out.
Jockey Cap is a giant rock-shaped formation, steep on three sides and gradual on the northwest side. It is popular with climbers. Once considered a separate boulder or glacial erratic boulder, it is a granite ledge. As the Fryeburg Fair is nearby, it is named after a jockey cap.
To get there from Conway, drive to Fryeburg on Route 302. Go through the village and turn right after Fryeburg Academy. About half a mile after this turn left into the Jockey Cap Country Store. To the left of the store is a parking lot signposted for hikers.
A trail begins on the left side of the store. It bears to the right (where it’s odd to walk behind a Dollar General on a trail) then continues left on the old trail. You enter an area of âârocks and pass a boulder on the left with a small cave below. It is known as Molly Ockett’s Cave. In the late 1700s, a famous Native American herbalist slept there, perhaps briefly, in Fryeburg.
The trail continues to the west side of Jockey Cap. Through the trees in the other direction is Molly Ockett Middle School. Soon the trail gets a little steeper and you climb the rock itself to the top.
There is a granite monument at the top. Above is a circular brass profile of all 360 degree vertices. It was put there by a friend of Admiral Richard Perry, discoverer of the North Pole, by a friend. Perry lived in Fryeburg for a year in his youth.
The view at the top of Jockey Cap is well worth the brief climb. The open sky dominates the view.