Looking for a quick hike with rewarding views? Look no further than Jockey Cap in Fryebrug, Maine. You might break a brief sweat for the 15 minutes it takes to hike to the top of this “mountain.” Despite being vertically challenged, Jockey Cap certainly wins in views over the surrounding Fryeburg area and the White Mountains.
Jockey Cap rises a whooping 200 feet above the valley and was once a local ski hill running a row tow from 1936 to about 1939. The Jockey Cap row tow was actually the very first rope tow in the state of Maine. It was purchased by 10 young local businessmen who each pooled together $25.00 (a lot of money in the 1930s!) and built the rope tow. In those days “snow trains” ran the Mountain Division Trail from Portland to Fryeburg and the owners would hop the train riding back and forth handing out flyers. Hundreds of skiers from the Greater Portland area would ride the train north-west to Fryeburg where local farmers would use their hay carts to transport the skiers from the station to the hill. Unfortunately Cranmore Mountain in North Conway, New Hampshire was built around 1939 and Jockey Cap closed its hill.
Today you can climb the short trails to the top for stunning views of the area. It’s a perfect hike for children as it’s short and sweet. There is even a small cave, Molly Locket’s cave, that kids can explore on their way up. The cave is named for the last of the Pequawket Indians that were said to have used that cave for shelter. On top of the summit there is unique stone sculpture with a bronze profile of the surrounding mountains that is dedicated to Robert E. Peary, the famous Arctic explorer, who lived in Fryeburg from 1878 to 1979.
The trailhead is not hard to find. The tiny parking lot is adjacent to the Quinn’s Jockey Cap Motel and store located off of US Route 302. Follow the trail under the sign and up towards the rock ledge in the distance. The dirt trail will wind through the forest for about 500 yards where you’ll come to Molly Locket’s cave. From here the trail splits. The left branch continues up a gradual climb with some rocks and roots; however, nothing too bad. The righthand trail climbs a bit more steeply. Neither side is more than 0.2 miles long. Just be aware that there are numerous side trails that lead nowhere. The hike should take you less than 30 minutes roundtrip.
While I would not drive from Portland all the way to Fryeburg for just this hike, I would pair it with the Fryeburg Fair in late September or any of the other mountains in the nearby area, like Sabattus Mountain or Pleasant Mountain.
- Location: 116 Bridgton Rd, Fryeburg, ME (US Route 302)
- Elevation: 600 feet
- Distance: 0.2 miles one-way
- Time: 15 minutes one-way (about 30 minutes roundtrip)
- Parking: Little parking lot on the left side of the Quinn’s Jockey Cap Motel
- Difficulty: Easy
- Dog Friendly: Yes