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The Auburn Riverwalk passes through the heart of the old mill district of the Twin Cities of Auburn and Lewiston. The 1.6-mile paved and gravel path offers many scenic views of the Androscoggin River, the powerhouse that fueled the historic mill industry. Lewiston is the second largest city in Maine and offers many dining opportunities. Keep an ear out for spoken French, as Lewiston is home to the largest French-speaking population in Maine (the language is spoken by nearly 15% of residents).
A section of trail crosses the Androscoggin River on a trestle built by the Grand Trunk Railroad in 1909. The railway started service in the 1850s, connecting Portland with Montreal. It later added a line to Auburn and Lewiston, serving the shoe and textile industries that boomed here in the second half of the 19th century. The Canadian National Railway later took over the railroad.
Starting in the west just past the skate park in Moulton Park, follow the gravel path for about 0.25 mile to a fork in adjoining Bonney Park. The left fork heads north alongside the Androscoggin River for 0.7 mile to West Pitch Park and its overlook at Great Falls, also known as Lewiston Falls. One of only 15 urban waterfalls in the United States, it drops 37 feet over rocky outcrops and is still used for hydroelectric power. The segment is paved in bricks and offers benches for viewing wildlife or simply contemplating life.
Taking the right fork from Bonney Park carries you across the Androscoggin River on a 425-foot converted railroad bridge. Viewing the river, you can appreciate the local efforts to clean up this waterway, once known as the most polluted in the state.
After crossing the bridge, you will run into Simard-Payne Memorial Park, which serves as a welcoming gateway to the trail and river. The park has several small walking paths that lead down to benches along the river and a paved loop encircling the park. At the top of the loop, a short trail leads to a gravel lot for parking and a picnic area. Depending on when you arrive, you could also experience the annual Great Falls Brewfest in June, the Great Falls Balloon Festival in August, or the Dempsey Challenge in September.
To reach the Auburn trailhead from I-95, take Exit 80 toward SR 196/Lewiston. Traveling north on I-95, turn right onto Alfred A. Plourde Pkwy.; traveling south on I-95, turn left onto Alfred A. Plourde Pkwy. Go about 0.5 mile, and turn right onto Goddard Road, and then go 0.9 mile, and turn right onto River Road, which becomes Lincoln St. Go 1.6 miles, and turn left onto Cedar St., and then go 0.4 mile, and turn right onto Mill St. in Auburn. Go 0.1 mile, and turn right onto S. Main St., and then go 0.3 mile, and look for parking on your right. The trail is at the bottom of the slope; go left 0.2 mile for the western endpoint.
To reach the Lewiston trailhead from I-95, take Exit 80 toward SR 196/Lewiston. Traveling north on I-95, turn right onto Alfred A. Plourde Pkwy.; traveling south on I-95 turn left onto Alfred A. Plourde Pkwy. Go about 0.5 mile, and turn right onto Goddard Road. Then go 0.9 mile, and turn right onto River Road, which becomes Lincoln St. Go 1.7 miles, and turn left onto Beech St. Cross the canal and park in Simard-Payne Memorial Park.
This is a great place to walk with a wheelchair or stroller, thanks to the tar, cement and brick walkways. I took my mom in her wheelchair and she was able to see swimming ducks, the river and the falls from her chair thanks to the open fencing and observation decks on the bridge. It's a well used trail, and goes past restaurants and apartment buildings. A great place in the city to enjoy nature.
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