NOTE: The Down East Sunrise Trail is closed during mud season to protect the trail surface (typically late March to mid-April).
The 85-mile Down East Sunrise Trail runs from Washington Junction in the west, just east of Ellsworth (gateway to Acadia National Park) off of US Route 1, and Ayers Junction in Pembroke on Maine Route 214 (4 miles northwest of the Route 214 intersection with US Route 1). The scenic rail corridor runs along the entire Downeast coastal area, connecting multiple scenic conservation areas and intersecting with Downeast salmon rivers through a scenic portion of Maine.
The trail occupies part of the 127-mile Calais Branch rail corridor, which linked Brewer to Calais. From 1898 to 1954, Maine Central Railroad trains rumbled north through then-booming Washington and Hancock counties, bringing tourists, mail and commodities to points north before hitting a turntable at the end of the line, flipping around and transporting lumber, gravel and blueberries south. The right-of-way stays fairly close to the coast. The ocean is often visible, especially near Machias, which is right on the water. Other sections of rail bed are as much as 15 miles inland.
The trail runs through thick stands of birch and conifer as it meanders among charming communities, where fresh coffee and blueberry pie are never too far afield.
The Down East Sunrise Trail is truly multi-use for snowmobiles, ATVs, pedestrians, bicyclists, cross-country skiers and equestrians. Please respect all users as you traverse this spectacular trail.
Parking and Trail Access
The Down East Sunrise Trail's southern terminus in Washington Junction is 2 miles outside of Ellsworth. From I-95 in Bangor, take I-395 to US Route 1-A south toward Ellsworth. In Ellsworth turn left onto US Route 1. In Machias, parking is available at the train depot and box car.
For car-free options from Bangor, take Downeast Transit or West's Transportation buses to Ellsworth. West's buses continue nearly to the northern terminus of the trail in Pembroke. West's also makes loops and shuttles possible. The bus route parallels much of the trail, and buses make twice-daily runs on Route 1 and Route 1A.
Bicycles are permitted on West's Transportation and Concord Trailways buses, and on Amtrak's Downeaster with a reservation and a $5 service charge.
You can access the trail from the towns along the way.
Our experience with the Down East Sunrise Trail? It was disappointing. We didn’t have time to bike the entire length, so our plan was to carve it up into a few segments (my wife’s limit is about 25 miles - I’m OK with that) and to be shuttled back to ...
Long and Interesting But Primarily an ATV Trail
Three of us just rode the Sunrise Trail end to end; one on a mountain bike and the other two on hybrids. The Trail has some beautiful views, a hard but rough surface, 1 1/2 " minus stone base and in many places a high loose center berm that is hard to ...
a nice trail through the woods - saw bogs and trees and butterflies and bugs - lots of bugs - be prepared for bugs (we stopped off in franklin to buy more spray as what we used at the beginning was ineffective) - lots of big ugly nasty bugs - the trail ...