Maine’s Multi-Use Rail Trails
Some trails in Maine are designated specifically for skiing, hiking, or bicycling. Other trails are considered multi-use rail trails that permit a variety of activities, including biking, hiking and walking, snowmobiling, dog sledding, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, and using certain types of ATVs. The only vehicles prohibited from using a multi-use rail trail are cars, trucks, jeeps, and motorcycles, which are too large to operate on the trails. There are 10 multi-use trails throughout Maine that together comprise 310 miles.
There are some restrictions on seasonal use of Maine’s multi-use rail trails. When snow covers the trail in winter months, horseback riding and ATV use are not permitted. During the muddy spring season, most multi-use trails close until more favorable conditions prevail. Signs mark closed trails, and hikers, walkers, and joggers are still permitted on the trails during mud season.
Aroostook Valley Trail
The Aroostook Valley Trail follows the former Aroostook Valley Railroad line. The railroad was originally constructed in 1909 and extended for 32 miles. After the railroad was shut down and abandoned in 1996, the trail was made open to outdoor enthusiasts. The Aroostook Valley Trail stretches 28 miles, connecting Presque Isle, Caribou, Washburn, Woodland, and New Sweden. The gravel surface trail is available year-round for hikers, skiiers, ATV riders, snowshoers, snowmobilers, and horseback riders. The trail is remote, so prepare for emergency situations by bringing extra food and water, foul weather gear, and a light source.
Bangor & Aroostook Trail
The Bangor and Arookstook Trail consists of two sections. One stretches from Mapleton to Washburn and Stockholm. The other section travels from Stockholm to Caribou before terminating in Van Buren. The entire trail is 61 miles long and features a level gravel surface. When traveling along the trail, be considerate of neighboring landowners by remaining relatively quiet and refraining from trespassing. This trail passes through open fields, hardwood forests, and small streams.
Down East Sunrise Trail
In 1987, the Maine Department of Transportation acquired the Calais Branch railroad corridor to preserve the rail line. Since its purchase by the state, no trains have operated on the line, leaving it open for other recreational opportunities. The Down East Sunrise Trail is jointly managed by the Maine Department of Transportation and Department of Conservation. Approximately 85 miles of the Calais Branch are open for recreational use, from Washington Junction in Hancock to Ayers Junction in Pembroke. The trail is supported and maintained by a non-profit organization called the Sunrise Trail Coalition.
Four Seasons Adventure Trail
The Four Seasons Adventure Trail is a level, gravel surfaced trail that stretches for 29 miles. The trail connects the towns of Newport, Corinna, Dexter, Sangerville, and Dover-Foxcroft. Riders and joggers on the trail enjoy views of Sebasticook Lake, Corinna Bog, the east branch of the Sebasticook River, and Lake Wassookeag. Trail users may encounter black flies and mosquitoes in the summer months; bring bug spray to protect yourself from these insects.
Kennebec Valley Trail
The Kennebec Valley Trail follows the Kennebec River, along Highway 201. This multi-use trail is only 8 miles long but features a hard gravel surface appropriate for bikers, ATV riders, horseback riders, and hikers. The trail passes from Embden through Solon before terminating at Bingham. Part of the Kennebec Valley Trail is known as the “Arnold Trail.” This section follows the route forged by Benedict Arnold, who led colonial troops north in 1775 to capture Quebec during the Revolutionary War.
Lagrange to Medford Trail
As its name implies, the Langrange to Medford Trail travels from South Lagrange through Medford Center before ending at Lake View Plantation. The trail is 16 miles long and consists of a hard gravel surface. Along the trail, take note of the rural Maine scenery, including tall forests and rolling farmland. The trail terminates near beautiful Schoodic Lake. The Lagrange to Medford Trail is maintained by volunteers, so be courteous by following “leave no trace” guidelines when using the trail.
Sherman to Patten Trail
Approximately 6 miles in the length, the Sherman to Patten multi-use trail features a rough gravel surface following an old rail bed. The trail passes through open fields as well as wooded areas. The trail passes near the well-known Thousand Acre Bog. This enormous swamp offers excellent wildlife viewing opportunities. Look for white-tailed deer, birds, and interesting plant species. Because the Sherman to Patten Trail is remote, bring plenty of food and water in case of unexpected events.
Southern Bangor & Aroostook Trail
The Southern Bangor and Aroostook Trail is also called the Houlton to Phair Junction. This 37-mile trail stretches from Houlton to Montiello, Bridgewater, Mars Hill, and Presque Isle. The hard gravel surface is perfect for off-road bikers, ATV riders, and hikers in the summer months. The trail passes through forestland and small Maine communities where you can stop for refreshments or a hot meal. The Southern Bangor and Aroostook Trail is located in logging country; as a result, logging trucks occasionally pass through the trail. Be aware of motorized vehicles and yield the right of way to logging trucks on the trail.
St. John Valley Heritage Trail
The St. John Valley Trail passes from Fort Kent through St. John before terminating in St. Francis. Located on the border of Maine with Quebec, this 16.5-mile multi-use trail offers views of one of the most beautiful areas in the state. Experience the rolling hills, lush farmland, and rushing water of the St. John River. This trail passes near highways, but trail users often report that it feels very remote and is similar to a backcountry experience. The St. John Valley Trail is open in all seasons for recreational users.
Whistle Stop Trail
The Whistle Stop Trail, located in western Maine, passes from Jay to Farmington. Although the majority of the trail is gravel, some sections consist of sandy soil. Mountain bikers may have difficulty navigating these sandy sections. This 14-mile trail passes through the rolling hills of western Maine, giving users views of beautiful farmland. The Whistle Stop Trail is open year-round.