Kennebec Valley Trail

Maine

Kennebec Valley Trail Facts

States: Maine
Counties: Somerset
Length: 14.6 miles
Trail end points: Fahi Pond Rd. (Solon) and Goodrich Rd. (Bingham)
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone, Dirt, Sand
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6016075
Trail activities: ATV, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Snowmobiling, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Kennebec Valley Trail Description

The quiet Kennebec Valley Trail (a.k.a. Anson to Bingham Trail) boasts surprising claims to fame: the 14.6-mile trail traces the river and Indian path taken in 1775 by Benedict Arnold, on orders from General George Washington, to capture Quebec from the British. It also follows a former narrow-gauge logging railroad, which then hauled freight and passengers up around Moosehead Lake, Maine's largest. At one point the trail is bisected by the 45th parallel. The surface is largely packed dirt and crushed stone.

Despite intermittent rolling dips from ATV use on the sandy stretches, the trail nevertheless delivers a good mountain bike ride. While the trail has only been fully developed from south of Solon to Bingham, additional undeveloped (read: less manicured) trail miles stretch north from the North Anson cemetery, nearly doubling the overall length.

North of Solon, tremendous views of the Kennebec River compensate for occasional rough going on the trail. The river is so wide in places, you may have to remind yourself you're traveling alongside a mighty river and not one of Maine's beautiful lakes. Listen for the cry of loons, especially around dusk. If you're really lucky, you may even spot one up close.

At an electrical generating station near Arnolds Landing (north of Solon), the trail spans a former railroad bridge across the Kennebec. North of the landing the trail runs within feet of the river for long expanses. Unless you're carrying a GPS, you won't be aware when you cross the 45th parallel—the theoretical midpoint between the Equator and the North Pole. You'll eventually emerge at the Bingham trailhead on Goodrich Road.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the North Anson trailhead, take US Hwy. 201A to town and turn west on Fahi Pond Road. The trail starts on the right just before the cemetery.
To reach the Bingham trailhead, take US Hwy. 201 south through town and turn left on Goodrich Road. The parking lot is on the left, with trail access on the right.

Kennebec Valley Trail Reviews

Visiting Maine in August we found no place to rent bikes within 80 miles of the Trail. We decided to hike the section from Bingham south as we like free flowing rivers, not lakes behind dams. First issue was the Bingham Goodrich Rd trailhead. It is in the woods and out of sight from US 201 or houses. We chose to park at a more publicly visible location at a Supermarket across from North Country Rivers Outfitters where the Trail crosses a corner of the Outfitters property. We did get permission from the Supermarket and recommend parking here, not the Goodrich Rd. trailhead.

Second, the main issue for us was the Trail. This included the lack of views of this section of the river being obscured by Summer vegetation, the condition of the trail with muddy potholes and lack of a gravel surface and the permitted use of the Trail by ATV’s. The ATV drivers were respectful of hikers and slowed for us, but the vehicles were still noisy and created dust. We terminated the hike early and had ice cream at Here’s the Scoop in Bingham, sitting quietly on the bank of the Kennebec.

Headed south on US 201 to Arnolds Landing where the trail crosses the Kennebec. The trail is on the river bank and would have provided better water views had we hiked this section. Had to leave, as it is a slow drive from I-95. In summary, the Bingham area portion of the Trail would rank as our worst RTT experience from Maine to Virginia. We would not return even for ice cream on the river bank.

Running between Augusta and Gardiner Maine, this is a short trail, 6.5 miles one way, asphalt paved surface. Not a lot of challenges but lots of friendly walkers, joggers and bikers at least on the weekends.

I did the trail end to end on a Thursday leaving out of North Anson at about 8am. Only saw one ATV. The beginning of the trail as you approach the power plant is fairly solid and an easy ride although the only scenery is forest and an occasional farm field for the most part. Had to go thru one puddle over the pedals but it did rain heavy the night before and this was the only issue along the way. Once you reach the river at about the midway point you follow it pretty much to the end and it makes for great views. I was fortunate to see a Loon and hear the amazing sound they're known for. Keep in mind that when you do reach the river the road can be sandy and soft for much of the way. Very doable but you do work a little bit more. Definitely would not take skinny wheel bike on it. Very little elevation change and completed ride in just under 4 hours with plenty of stops. Spend some time exploring the rapids around the power dam. Very good mountain biking trail. Off to the St John Valley Heritage trail.

Accordion

We missed doing this one after finding the Solan Falls Rd mid-point parking spot. It was off in the woods and thought the location was wrong. Not making the excursion ended up being OK, as we lost a bike tube on one of the bikes before starting.

Second hand report from fellow campers, however, said that starting at the Solan mid-point is a great ride up to Bingham where they stopped in a shop for sandwiches before heading back. Trail was described as ATV and great for bikes.

This route parallels the Kennebec river and Rt 201 with all of the moose crossing warning signs.
Beautiful vistas.

Cautionary note:
If biking/fishing, a possible note of caution here that may or may not quite apply to this section of the river is to be aware of the upper water releases into the river up through The Forks area. Check with locals for water rise times if fishing. If in or near the river, look for the high water marks which may still be damp. Rapid water rises occur on a scheduled basis, and water marks are as much as 6 feet above in The Forks area.

****
Take my rating with a grain of salt. We drove this route of 201 several times, but a bike maintenance issue prevented use from actually riding it and giving a more accurate description. Really wanted to do this one!

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