The Whistle Stop Rail-Trail is a textbook example of how diverse groups can work together to maintain and promote a trail. Developed as a route for snowmobiles and ORVs, the route also appeals to hikers and mountain bikers. It's no wonder. The corridor spans the range of environments Maine's Western Mountain region has to offer. Never far from small community centers, the trail meanders through residential areas then plunges back into wetland wilderness and beaver habitat. The trail's sandy, sometimes rutted surface and trailside pine and mixed deciduous forest demand your attention.
While the trail is accessible from numerous points in Livermore Falls, Jay, Wilton, and Farmington, the latter offers the best trailhead parking. Just south of the trailhead is another inviting feature: a warming hut that centers on a wood-burning stove stocked with a ready supply of split wood. Sponsored by Franklin Memorial Hospital, the yurt also offers instructional signs for fitness exercises. Signs direct trail users down a 0.25-mile side trail to the health center's restrooms and café.
Farther along the Whistle Stop, you'll cross several bridges maintained by area snowmobile and ATV clubs. These span scenic Sevenmile Stream, part of the massive Androscoggin watershed. North of Jay a large, granite-block embankment marks the site of the old North Jay Quarry. The Maine and New Hampshire Granite Corporation operated along the rail bed from 1886 until the early 1900s. Crews would cut and haul large blocks of white granite along a rail siding to a cutting shed, where the blocks were further shaped and sculpted for use in buildings across the country. Interpretive signs tell the story and include historical photographs of the quarry.
In Jay, you can access the French Falls Park along the river and connect to Maine Interconnected Trail System 84. Continue along the river and you will soon reach the town of Livermore Falls.
Parking and Trail Access
To reach the Farmington trailhead, head into town on US 2 and take Bridge Street to the four-way stop. Turn left here on Oak Street then right on Farmer Lane to the trailhead parking area.
In Jay park at French Falls Park on French Falls Lane off the southwest side of State Route 4/17.