By Jayne Glennon
Rain slowed the traffic more than the upcoming holiday weekend. It was Friday afternoon before Memorial Day, and Craig and I drove north to Fryeburg, Maine, for a stay at the Oxford House Inn about eight miles east of Conway, N.H., along Route 302. The famous Fryeburg Fair is Maine's largest agricultural fair and opens yearly at the end of September. The Saco River passes through Fryeburg, a favorite launch for kayaks and canoes. This area overflows with outdoor adventures and activities year round. I hoped to get in a couple of hikes between downpours this weekend.
We were very happy with a previous stay at the Oxford House Inn and were looking forward to delicious food and warm atmosphere. The restaurant at the Inn is open to the public and we made a dinner reservation for 8 o'clock which left us enough time to have a walk before dinner. Behind the Inn, farmland is crisscrossed by dirt roads and paths through Christmas tree and corn fields and connecting with hiking and snowmobile trails. We wandered the fields for a half hour before the rain forced us back to the Inn. The lovely craftsman style home offers only four guest rooms. A converted closet made for a small bathroom in our room but the furnishings were comfortable. Rain was forgotten as we sipped fruity refrescos in the cozy stone walled bar, in the basement. Steamed Thai Chicken & Lemongrass Dumplings in Ginger Lime Peanut Sauce began our delicious dinner. Pan seared sea scallops in a pomegranate glaze for my entree and Craig went with a twin petit grilled filet mignon. Both dishes were inventive, tasty combinations created by the owner-chef Jonathan Spak.
Next morning we drove about a half mile east on Route 302 to find the half-mile trail to the summit of Jockey Cap. At the trail head we encountered several options and went the wrong way twice before finally heading up the center trail to the summit. The path was short with a moderately challenging root filled section that turned steeper and then became bald granite near the top. The fabulous 360-degree views from the summit were more reward than our efforts deserved. A four-foot high granite monument topped with a cast iron guide names distant observable mountains. One side of Jockey Cap is a sheer granite cliff where new rock climbers were receiving instructions while we visited. A great spot for a picnic -- with excellent views and less than a mile round trip.
- Date: May 24, 2014
- Distance: 1 mile
- Weather: partly cloudy, 60 degrees
- Fee: none
- Pets: ??? dangerous cliff
- What I liked about this walk: Good short walk for off-and-on raining day, fantastic views for little effort, interesting mountain guide on summit, Oxford House Inn, near North Conway
- What I didn't like about this walk: Black flies, trails a little confusing at beginning (at least for us!)