Belfast Rail Trail on the Passagassawaukeag

Maine

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Belfast Rail Trail on the Passagassawaukeag Facts

States: Maine
Counties: Waldo
Length: 2.3 miles
Trail end points: Oak Hill Road and Kaler Road/Hills to Sea Trail and Pierce St. at Water St. and Harbor Walk (Belfast)
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone, Gravel
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 8734884
Trail activities: Wheelchair Accessible, Mountain Biking, Walking

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Belfast Rail Trail on the Passagassawaukeag Description

Visitors to the Belfast Rail Trail on the Passagassawaukeag (pronounced pas-uh-gas-uh-WAH-keg and conveniently shortened to Passy Rail Trail by locals) can see vintage trains at one end of the trail or watch shipwrights at work at the other end. In between, the 2.3-mile rail-trail passes through woods alongside the Passagassawakeag River. The trail, named for the indigenous spelling of that tidal river instead of the common name, is relatively flat with a packed gravel and crushed stone surface.

The rail-trail, opened in 2016, follows the southern section of old railbed laid by the Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad, a historic short line railroad that operated over 33 miles from Belfast to Burnham beginning in 1871 until 2007. Most of the corridor, north of the trail, is an excursion and tourist train still named the Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad.

A good place to start is the northern trailhead on Oak Hill Road, adjacent to the City Point Central Railroad Museum. Located in a vintage late-19th-century railroad station, the museum serves as the depot for the excursion train. Some of the rolling stock in use include electric locomotives, an observation car, a Pullman car, a coach/café car, and a caboose. The trailhead also is the terminus of the 47-mile Hills to Sea Trail, a walking path that heads west to the town of Unity.

Heading south on the Passy Rail Trail, you’ll come to a bridge across a narrow section of the Passagassawakeag River in 0.4 mile. The 92-acre Head of Tide Preserve just west of the trail after crossing the bridge marks the end of the river’s tidal zone. A couple of loop trails pass through the woods and along the river.

The trail runs alongside City Point Road for the next mile with some clear views of the river. Keep your eyes open for seals running the tide in the river and nesting eagles and ospreys in the woods along the shoreline. About 1.3 miles from the trailhead, you’ll come to a parking lot. The 8-acre Stephenson Preserve, with a loop trail heading uphill, is located just north of here on City Point Road.

The trail continues along the river another mile, passing beneath the US 1 bridge and next to a potato processing plant, to the southern trailhead on Pierce Street. Here it connects to Belfast Harbor Walk at the Belfast Armistice Bridge (also known as Footbridge). The Harbor Walk connects to the Footbridge and continues south along the west side of the river, where the surface is a combination of asphalt and boardwalks. The southern end of the Harbor Walk has restaurants, docks, and shops, and hosts events and festivals.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the northern trailhead, take US 1 N to Belfast, and take the exit for SR 7/ME 137 to Waldo Ave. Go straight onto Field St., and then go 0.1 mile and turn left onto High St. Go 2.1 miles on High St./City Point Road, and look for parking on the right at the City Point Central Railroad Museum.

 

To reach the northern trailhead from US 1 S/ME 3/Searsport Road in Belfast, turn right onto Swan Lake Ave./SR 141. Go 0.1 mile, and turn left onto Robbins Road, and then go 1 mile, and turn right onto Kaler Road. Go 1.3 miles, and turn left onto Oak Hill Road. Trailhead parking is on the left at the City Point Central Railroad Museum.

 

To reach the southern trailhead, take US 1 N to Belfast, and take the exit for SR 7/SR 137 to Waldo Ave. Go straight onto Field St., then go 0.1 mile and turn right onto High St. Go 0.1 mile, and turn left onto Pierce St., then go 0.2 mile for parking at the intersection with Water St.

 

To reach the southern trailhead from US 1 S/SR 3/Searsport Ave. in Belfast, take the SR 7/SR 137 exit toward downtown Belfast after crossing the bridge over the Passagassawakeag River. Turn right onto High St., then go 0.3 mile and turn left onto Pierce St. Go 0.2 mile for parking at the intersection with Water St.

Belfast Rail Trail on the Passagassawaukeag Reviews

a wonderful thing about this trail is that it is handicapped accessible from the outer High Street parking lot in particular. The stone dust surface is impervious to wheels and motor driven and otherwise propelled wheel chairs are very easy to use on the trail.

That said... the trail is a wonder. There are three parking area access points. 1. downtown/intown where it intersects the Armistice Bridge walking bridge and Harbor Walk, 2. Upper Bridge (on High Street) and 3. out at the The Brooks Preservation railroad yard, station, and museum.

It is a remarkable 2.2 miles of natural world.

The trail is beautifully groomed and hugs the Passagassawakeag river for over 2 miles. We started at the north end (13 Oak Hill Road) of the trail by the rail yard. The parking lot was packed when we got there as the excursion train was getting ready to leave. They have rides Saturdays and Sundays at 1 PM. The trains travel north from the parking lot and the trail goes south. The trail surface is perfect for walking and biking. It is treelined and has many small bridges that carry you over creeks. It took us 45 minutes of walking to get to the southern end at the intersection of Pierce St. and Front St. in Belfast. There is now a trailhead with a small parking lot at the southern end (not listed in the description). The trail connects there to the Belfast Harbor Walk which is an awesome urban trail through Belfast harbor and Front Street shipyard with a long pedestrian bridge across the Passagassawakeag.

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