Evans Notch, about 20 miles north of Fryeburg on the Maine side of the White Mountains National Forest, offers some amazing mountain views. Blueberry Mountain is one of my family’s favorite places to hike. The mountain offers a moderate challenge and a wonderful, slightly off-the-beaten-path swimming spot that is a fun way to cool off on a hot day. The ride to the trailhead is all the more fun when we stop to pick up trail snacks at Jockey Cap Country Store in Fryeburg.
On the way to Evans Notch is Quinn’s Jockey Cap Country Store in Fryeburg. On first glance it looks like a typical, locally-owned convenience store set in any small town in Maine. But this place has bakery-quality desserts and lots of homemade goodness. They have delicious cakes, cookies, cheesecake and other treats. They also have all sorts of sandwiches and pizza (for breakfast and lunch) and plenty of the typical hiking fare of granola bars, nuts, chips and water. It’s a well-stocked place. One thing about it though, it’s not particularly inexpensive. But as far as bakery goods and sandwiches go, it’s a tasty stop and offers just the kind of treats to give you motivation to get to the summit for lunch. They open at 5 a.m. Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. Sunday so the hours are great for hikers getting an early start to the trailhead.
Quinn’s Jockey Cap Country Store, 116 Bridgton Road (Route 302), Fryeburg. www.quinnsjockeycap.com
The summit of Blueberry Mountain is in the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness area north of Fryeburg. With a 1,100-foot elevation gain, this adventure can be challenging for people who don’t generally hike but doable for those with an average fitness level. The mountain loop we like best starts the climb with the White Cairn Trail and connects to the Blueberry Ridge Trail to the summit. There are plenty of spots to sit down to enjoy the view, and lunch. To make a full loop, head back down the mountain via the Stone House Trail. The loop is about four and a half miles total. The White Cairn Trail has a steep area with large rocks that require a bit some scrambling (i.e., climbing up the rock with your hands and feet).
HIKE: White Cairn Trail to Blueberry Ridge Trail to Stone House Trail
NEAREST TOWN: Gilead
TRAILHEAD: It’s on Stone House Road off Route 113, about 1.3 miles north of Cold River camp. Park at the steel gate. GPS coords: 44.252, -70.9914 | Get directions
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,150 feet
SUMMIT: at 1,750 feet
MILEAGE: approximately 4.5-mile loop
DIFFICULTY: Moderate for average fitness level, difficult for children under 8 years old
SUMMIT PANORAMA: See a short video panorama from the summit of the mountain.
NOTE: If you hike this trail in August, you will understand the origin of the mountain’s name. There is an abundance of blueberries to pick all around the mountain.
ALTERNATIVES TO SUMMIT: The Stone House Trail is an easy, level path with a slight elevation gain just before the spur to Rattlesnake Pool. It would be a doable 2-mile loop from the trailhead for people who aren’t up for a full mountain hike.
When on the Stone House Trail, there is a detour (marked with a small sign) to visit Rattlesnake Flume and Pool. It is a spot not to be missed. The pool is at the end of a small cascading waterfall and looks like a small lagoon because of its blue-green waters that are surprisingly clear for its depth. The mountain water is very cold year-round but offers a wonderful treat for trail-weary feet even if you’re not up for a full-body dip. When hiking down the mountain the detour trail will be on the left. Follow that narrow trail for about a quarter mile before you reach the steep banks of the pool. When you’re close you’ll likely hear the roar of the water (or some folks splashing about in it).
Rattlesnake Pool, Stone House Trail, Evans Notch, 20 miles north of Fryeburg. GPS coords for the pool: 44.2559, -70.9755 | Get directions
Including: A climb up Evans Notch complete with baked treats and a dip in a local pool. Or maybe you’re headed up to Brunswick, in which case you should check out the flea market, movie theater and some gelato? We’re compiling day trips from all over Maine.