There are 20 rail-trails in Maine established from former (some current) railroads ranging from 2 miles to almost 90 miles. These trails are all over the state through forests, farmland, and coastal areas.
When traveling, we always plan on biking on rail trails as we know we will be able to enjoy our ride as they are usually level. Many of them go through small towns and boost the economy of the area. You get to see and experience many cultures along the trails as many of them run through rural areas.
What is a rail trail?
A rail-trail is a multi-use trail that usually has a level grade making it easy for everyone to ride. From biking, hiking, running, jogging, and even cross-country skiing these flat level trails offer an easy way to enjoy the great Maine outdoors.
Many of the rail trails in Maine are also used for ATV riding, horseback riding, and snowmobiling.
Note: All trail mileage is one way unless stated.
What is the East Coast Greenway?
The East Coast Greenway is a trail for biking, walking, running, inline skating and cross-country skiing from Calais Maine to Key West Florida. It is around 3,000 miles and includes 15 states and 450 cities.
This nonprofit organization is working with as many communities as possible to achieve this goal of having a place along the entire East Coast where outdoor recreation can strive. Whether you are looking for a local trail or want to travel by bike or walk from state to state, the dream of the East Coast Greenway is to be able to achieve this away from motor vehicle traffic.
I mention this because some of Maine’s rail-trail system is now part of the East Coast Greenway.
For more information on this trail visit the East Coast Greenway.
Portland Area/Southern Maine Rail Trails
Length: 29 miles
Surfaced: Paved, crushed stone and sand
This trail begins in the woods of Kennebunk Plains and goes to South Portland’s Harbor Lighthouse. The trail is mostly off-road however it has 2 gaps, one in Saco/Biddeford and the other in Scarborough. There are plans to extend this trail south to Kittery and this will close one of these gaps.
The trail goes near the Kennebunk Plains blueberry barrens where you can pick wild Maine blueberries after August 1st and also by the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge.
After 6 miles you will come across the first gap in the trail in Biddeford. For 4.5 miles you will follow the street and sidewalks (signs will tell you where to go) over the Saco River at Springs Island where you will pick up the trail again.
You will ride through Saco and pass the Scarborough Marsh, saltwater wetlands covering 3100 acres (Maine’s largest marsh). Make sure to watch out for marine birds while riding the coast.
At the end of the marsh the second gap in the trail begins for 4 miles where traffic can be heavy so caution must be taken. The trail starts again at the Wainwright Recreation Complex and goes for another 5 miles to its end at Bug Light Park and its lighthouse which was built in 1875. Here you will have beautiful views of the harbor and the Portland Skyline.
This trail is also part of the East Coast Greenway.
Eastern Promenade Trail
If you love the ocean, this is the trail for you. This 2.1-mile paved trail runs along the shoreline with views of Casco Bay and Portland Harbor.
The trail goes through the Eastern Promenade, a 73-acre park built in the 1900s designed after New York Central Park. This rail-trail in Maine was not part of the park until the late 1990s when the city got the right away from the Canadian National Railroad.
The path is 18 feet wide and is used for biking, running, and walking. It is wheelchair accessible. You will see railroad tracks to the side of part of the trail owned by the Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Company. They have a museum with equipment used for logging at this location.
This trail is also used as part of the East Coast Greenway.
Sanford-Springvale Rail Trail
This 6-mile trail starts in the town of Springvale (parking for the trail) where you can either head east towards US202 or west towards Deering Pond.
The east trail is rougher and goes through some private easement away from the railbed through a right of way from the power line company and eventually ends at Hay Brook.
For an easier more direct ride head west which goes behind some business then has a gentle climb past Deering Pond where it heads into the forest and ends .8 miles later.
Mountain Division Trail
The Mountain Division Trail is 2 trails totally around 10 miles that will eventually be around 50 miles from Fryeburg to Portland. Currently, there is a southern section (Windham to Standish) and a northern section of about 4 miles through Fryeburg near the New Hampshire border.
The Maine Department of Transportation owns this land and is trying to acquire an additional 5 miles so the trail can go right into Portland. The trail is paved with the track next to the path as there is hope that one day a train will run again.
The trail starts in Windham and crosses over the Presumpscot River. You can then take a side trail for .7 miles to Shaw Park where you can swim and rent kayaks and canoes. If you stay on the main trail you will head to the south shore of Sebago Lake.
The north trail starts near Lovewell Pond and parallels the road for about 2.5 miles then heads south of Fryeburg and goes to the New Hampshire border.
Starting at the Moulton Park, you can go either across the river via a trestle built by the Grand Trunk railroad in 1909 to Simard-Payne Memorial Park. Or you can go to the left and stay west and ride along the Androscoggin River to the Great Falls/Lewiston Falls.
These falls have a 37’ drop and is still used today for hydroelectric power.
Note: This trail is wheelchair accessible.
This 4-mile paved easy trail begins in the town of Lisbon then runs along the Sabattus River and the Androscoggin River to the town of Lisbon Falls.
The very beginning of the trail starts in town then heads to a densely wooded area. Once it hits the Androscoggin River (where there is a parking lot and boat launch), it opens up more and you are able to get great views of the river.
This is a popular spot for birders, and you can see bald eagles, osprey, warblers, indigo buntings, and vireos.
Central Maine Rail Trails
Kennebec Valley Trail
This 14.5 miles trail is linked to the 1000 mile Interconnected Trail System where it begins in Bingham. Mostly used by ATVs and mountain bikes and snowmobiles and cross country skiing in winter, this remote trail runs along the Kennebec River between Bingham and Solon on the former Somerset Railway.
You will cross over an old railroad bridge where you can see Caratunk Falls and a hydroelectric facility. Here the trail ends for about 1 mile where you will ride on Levee Road. When you pick up the trail again it heads towards an agricultural area. The remaining 4.5 miles of the trail can get rough until it ends in North Anson.
Lagrange to Medford Trail
This 11.4-mile remote trail starts in Lagrange and ends north in Medford. Its mainly used by ATV riders and mountain bikes during warmer weather and snowmobile and cross country skiing during cold months. It should be avoided during the muddy season due to flooding.
There is a 100-year-old railroad trestle that goes over the Piscataquis River at the end of the trail which has been restored by the town. The bridge is used to connect the towns of Medford and Medford Center.
This trail so very remote and provisions for the day should be carried in with you. There are no parking areas between Lagrange and Medford. Watch out for wildlife along the trail as moose and beaver are sometimes spotted.
Note: After you go over the bridge to Medford, the land becomes private.
Belfast Rail Trail aka the Passy Rail Trail
This 2.3-mile rail-trail in Maine runs along the Passagasswaukeag River on the old Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad. I suggest starting at the northern trailhead on Oak Hill Road by the City Point Central Railroad Museum. Heading south, look for eagles and ospreys by the river.
The trail ends at the Belfast Harbor Walk. Continue to the southern end where there are restaurants, shops, and a dock where the town has events and festivals. You can also rent bikes in town.
This trail is flat and is easy to walk or bike.
Narrow Gauge Pathway
Another remote trail that mostly follows the Carrabassett River but this one is for non-motorized vehicles only. This 5.4-mile crushed stone and dirt trail goes through the forest between Sugarloaf Regional Airport and Carrabassett Valley Public Library.
The path is on an old railbed of the Kingsfield and Dead River Railroad which was used for logging purposes. It was on a narrow 2-foot wide gauge track instead of the standard 4-foot 8-inch gauge. This was done to make it cheaper and easier to build. This is where the trail got its name.
This trail is through the mountains and does have an uphill grade more so than any other rail-trails in Maine. This is because it goes through the mountains.
This 16-mile rail-trail in Maine is used by ATV and off-road vehicles as well as mountain bikers, horseback riders, and hikers in the warmer months and snowmobile and cross country skiing in the colder months. It runs from West Farmington and goes through wetlands and farms until you reach the end of the trail where you will ride along the Androscoggin River until you reach the end of the trail in Livermore Falls.
The trail follows the old Androscoggin Railroad which was purchased by Pan Am Railway in the 1980s. Although most of the trail is inactive, there is a section near Livermore Falls which still uses the track for trains so caution should be taken.
The gravel trail is easy for bicycles for the first 6 miles from West Farmington to Wilton. About 2 miles south of Wilson it turns to sand and can be difficult for bike riders. Once you hit the Androscoggin River the surface gets better and easier.
Four Season Adventure Trail
Length: 30 Miles
Surface: Crushed stone, dirt and sand
This trail is used for ATV, mountain bike, hiking, and horseback riding in summer and snowmobile and cross-country skiing in the winter. A lot of this trail goes through dense forest.
The trail begins in Newport in Central Maine and heads north passing several lakes through Corinna, Dexter, and ends at Dover-Foxcroft on the old railbed of the Dexter and Newport Railroad. It connects on both ends to the 1000-mile-long Maine Interconnected Trail System.
The trail goes through the towns of Corinna and Dexter where you can stop for supplies and get something to eat. After leaving Dexter you have 11 miles through the forest before reaching the end of the trail in Dover-Foxcroft where you can get services.
Kennebac River Rail Trail in Maine
This paved 6.5-mile-long trail parallels the Kennebec River and goes from Augusta to Gardiner. It’s a multi-use trail for biking, hiking, running, and cross-country skiing. Motorized vehicles are prohibited.
It’s on the line of the Kennebec and Portland Railroad. The tracks remain as the hope that one day the railroad will return.
There are four access points where you can park your vehicles and access the trail. These include Memorial Drive Bridge and Capitol Park in Augusta. The waterfront park in Hallowell and Maine Avenue in Gardiner. There are restrooms for your convenience at each parking lot except in Gardiner.
Eastern Maine Rail Trails
Calais Waterfront Walkway
This 1.5-mile trail border Maine and Canada in the town of Calais. Although short, this trail marks the beginning of the East Coast Greenway.
This gravel path is on the former rail bed of the Calais & Baring Railroad. It runs along the Saint Croix River until it hits Main Street then follows Main Street until the end. From the trail, you can see the skyline of St. Stephens, New Brunswick and if you have ID to cross into Canada, you can stroll the mile line Riverfront Walking Trail. St Stephen also has a Chocolate Museum which you can visit.
The Passamaquoddy tribe built this trail and it goes through the Pleasant Point Reservation. The 1.9-mile paved trail hugs the edge of the water by Little River, Gleason Cove, and the Western Passage. This trail was built for pedestrians and bicyclists to avoid ME19, a hectic Maine road.
Down East Sunrise Trail
Length: 88 miles
Surface: Crushed stone, gravel and sand
This trail, not far from Bar Harbor, passes through woods, marshlands and coastal villages. It is used mainly by ATV riders as well as mountain bikes. It is part of the East Coast Greenway.
This trail starts in Pembroke and has 15 parking areas along the 88 miles where you can access the trail. The larger parking areas are Washington Junction, Franklin East Machias, Cherryfield, Whitneyville, Dennysville, and Ayers Junction.
For more information on this trail visit the Sunrise Trail Organization.
Northern Maine Rail Trails
Saint John Valley Heritage Trail
This 17-mile crushed-stone trail goes between the towns of Fort Kent and St John. The trail is used by ATV riders, mountain bikers, and snowmobiles since it is connected to the 1000 mile Maine Interconnected Trail System.
You first travel through town where there are restaurants and shops. This is a French-speaking area as the descendants of the French colonists settled along the ST. John River.
After the town, the trail follows woods and wetlands until it crosses ME 161 in the town of Wheelock. After that, you get a view of the river as well as villages in farms in New Brunswick, Canada.
As the trail comes to an end in Saint Francis you will pass a 1904 railroad turntable that was restored by the local high school students for the Saint Francis Historical Society Museum. There is also a railroad caboose, picnic tables, and a memorial at the museum.
Aroostook Valley Trail
- Length: 28.8 miles
- Surface: dirt and crushed stone
- Difficulty: Moderate
This northern Maine trail is used for biking, hiking, ATV riders, and snowmobiles. AS a matter of fact, ATV and snowmobiles is its main use as it connects to the Interconnected Trail System. This system consists of thousands of miles of ATV and snowmobile trails throughout the state of Maine.
Located in a remote section of Maine, riders need to be prepared for an emergency as you will not have cell service.
The trail begins is Presque Isle and goes through 4 towns. When entering the town of Carson, the trail splits and you can either go to Caribou or head to New Sweden.
This is a scenic trail as the beginning of the trail (until you reach the town of Washburn runs along the Aroostook River. At this point, you can head south as it is connected to the Bangor & Aroostook Trail.
In the towns of Carson and Caribou, you will find restaurants, shops and a B&B that cater to trail goers. If you head to New Sweden there are very minimal services.
Note: A mountain bike is recommended as the trail is rough at times and not made for a road bike. Dog sledding is also permitted on the trail in winter.
Bangor & Aroostook Trail
- Length: 62.3 miles
- Surface: Gravel
- Difficulty: Moderate
This trail begins near the Canadian border and travels through a remote section of Maine in the Northwoods. If you want to see moose, this is the trail for you as they are spotted on the trail often.
Related Post: Where to see Moose in Maine
This trail also connects with the Aroostook Valley Trail and is part of Maine’s Interconnected Trail System. It runs along the former Bangor and Aroostook Railroad which was built to haul crops of potatoes and wood products to Southern Maine.
The trail begins in Van Buren where you go through the forest and see many bogs (look for moose) on your way to Stockholm. Here it splits so you can either go to Caribou or take the longer trail (30 miles) to Mapleton.
When heading to Mapleton, you will join the Aroostook Valley Trail near Washburn for a short time where there are restrooms in the parking area.
This trail is for mountain bikes, ATV, snowmobiles as well as dog-sledding and snowshoeing.
Southern Bangor and Aroostook Trail
Length: 39 miles
Surface: Crushed stone and gravel
Part of a 1200 mile private and public trails for ATV in the county, this rail-trail in Maine is also used for bikers, hikers in warmer months, and snowmobiles in winter.
Beginning not far from Presque Isle, the trail parallels US 1 for most of it through the towns of Phair, Mars Hill, Robinson, Bridgewater, Monticello, Sharp, Littleton, and ends in Houlton.
For the first 9 miles, you will be biking through pine forest then it will open up to farmland for about 5 miles. Then you will reach the town of Mars Hill where you will be able to have views of Mars Hill mountain. In the town, you can stop for supplies such as food and gas.
After Bridgewater, you head back into the forest with a gentle climb for the next 7 miles. Look for wildlife in the area. After Sharp, you will head into farmland for the remaining 12 miles to the end of the trail in Houlton.
With so many Rail Trails in Maine, it’s easy to find one near you. Take a pleasant ride through Maine’s forest, farmland, or ride by one of Maine’s scenic rivers.
With 20 rail trails in Maine to choose from what are you waiting for, so get out and enjoy Maine’s great outdoors!
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