The Down East Sunrise Trail is an 87-mile multi-use corridor connecting Ellsworth to Ayers Junction in eastern Maine. The trail is designed to accommodate hiking, thick-tire bicycles, ATVs, horses, cross-country skis, and snowmobiles.
The route roughly parallels the coast and the ocean is often visible, especially in Machias, which is right on the water. You’ll also enjoy views of Schoodic Mountain, salmon streams, and dense forests of birch and pine trees.
It follows the corridor of the former Maine Central Railroad, which transported goods, like lumber and blueberries, as well as passengers. The rail-trail was constructed in two phases with its first 85 miles opening in 2010. Its last two miles, between Hancock and Ellsworth, opened in 2016 and run parallel to an active railway. Less than a mile from its new westernmost endpoint, trail users can also pick up Ellsworth Rail Trail. The community is notable for being the gateway to Acadia National Park.
The rail-trail also plays a role in the multi-state developing East Coast Greenway network, which stretches from Maine to Florida.
On its western end, the trail can be accesses at the High Street Trailhead in Ellsworth. You can also access the trail from the many towns along its 87-mile distance.
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 nominal service charge.