The Saint John Valley Heritage Trail traces 16.9 miles of the former Fish River Railroad corridor, which was taken over by the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad, a line that transported goods and passengers across northern Maine. Skirting the Saint John River, the well-maintained, crushed-stone trail offers views of the forests, farmlands and wetlands on the Canadian side of the river.
Start your trail exploration in the historic town of Fort Kent. The wooden blockhouse is the only remnant of the Aroostook War of 1838/39, a border dispute between Maine and New Brunswick that was settled without any actual fighting. The fort is on Blockhouse Road, at the confluence of the Fish and Saint John rivers. Your first stop should be the restored 1902 train station, which served as the Fish River Railroad terminus. Now owned by the Fort Kent Historical Society, it houses a museum devoted to the railroad.
Back on the trail, you'll soon cross a pedestrian bridge over the Fish River. As the trail continues through Fort Kent, watch for road crossings and spurs that lead to restaurants, service stations and other businesses. Beyond town, the trail passes through forests and wetlands along the banks of the Saint John. Although the trail parallels State Route 161 for several miles, the mixed forest remains quiet and serene. In the town of Wheelock, the trail crosses to the north side of 161. This section offers the best views of villages and farms in New Brunswick.
When you reach the town of Saint John, the trail again crosses Route 161, passing behind homes and shops. Exercise caution on the busy road. Nearing the trail's end in Saint Francis, you'll pass a railroad turntable recently restored by Fort Kent High School students, who also built a path leading into town. The trail soon ends at a large parking lot and trailhead. The Fort Kent trailhead is behind the gas station on Market Street, and State Route 161 is lined with access points.
Parking and Trail Access
To reach the Saint Francis trailhead, take Route 161 to Sunset Drive. Parking is on the left, just past the church.