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The Mountain Division Trail exists as two separate segments of what will eventually be a more than 50-mile-long trail from Fryeburg to Portland. The southern section rolls for about 6 miles between Windham and Standish; the northern section runs for nearly 4 miles through Fryeburg on the New Hampshire border. The paved trail segments run alongside currently dormant train tracks owned by the Maine Department of Transportation. Long-range plans call for a trail alongside the roughly 45 miles of existing rail corridor that the state owns between Fryeburg and Westbrook. The state wants to acquire and install trail on the final 5-mile rail link to Portland.
The Mountain Division Trail takes its name from the Maine Central Railroad’s Mountain Division that ran from Portland through New Hampshire’s White Mountains to Vermont. Chartered in 1867 as the Portland and Ogdensburg Railroad, Maine Central took over in the early 20th century. Passenger service on the scenic run ended in 1958, and freight trains stopped rolling after Guilford Transportation (later Pan Am Railways) acquired it in the 1980s. The Maine DOT owns and maintains the tracks today in hopes of reestablishing rail service.
Windham to Standish Segment: 5.6 miles
The southern section of the Mountain Division Trail comprises a segment of the 28-mile Sebago to the Sea Trail that runs between the southern tip of Sebago Lake to Casco Bay in Portland. You can start at the parking lot for the post office in Windham, about 0.25 mile north of the trailhead. The 10-foot-wide paved trail follows the unused tracks for 1.6 miles to a crossing over the Presumpscot River. Just past the bridge, a side trail heads downhill for 0.7 mile past Shaw Park, where you can swim and rent kayaks or canoes. The trail ends at a bridge just above Gambo Dam. A footpath heads into the woods where you can explore the ruins of a canal and the Oriental Powder Mill, which supplied the Union Army with one-quarter of its gunpowder.
Returning to the main trail, you’ll continue west across the rural landscape for 3 miles to a gate and stop sign blocking access to the railroad corridor across some ponds. The Mountain Division Trail continues up a hill as a gravel path for 1.2 miles to the trailhead at the south shore of Sebago Lake.
Fryeburg Segment: 4.0 miles
The northern section starts about 30 miles away at a trailhead on Portland Street in Fryeburg. Heading west, the paved trail is wooded and lined with wildflowers. You’ll have occasional mountain views through breaks in the vegetation. The trail parallels the road for 2.5 miles before it passes south of the historic town center. It travels another 1.5 miles to a trailhead near the New Hampshire state line.
To reach the western trailhead for the south segment from the intersection of SR 25 and SR 35 in Standish, head north on SR 35 N/Northeast Road (it becomes Chadbourne Road), and go 2.5 miles. Turn right into the parking lot by Standish Skate Park.
To reach the eastern trailhead for the south segment from the intersection of ME 25 and US 202 in Gorham, head northeast on US 202 E/SR 4/Gray Road, and go 4 miles. The trailhead is on the left, but no parking is available.
To reach the eastern trailhead for the north segment from the intersection of US 302 and SR 113 in Fryeburg, head south on SR 5/SR 113 toward Brownfield and Old Orchard Beach. Go 3.4 miles, and look for parking on the right.
To reach the western trailhead for the north segment from the intersection of US 302 and SR 113 in Fryeburg, head southwest on US 302, and go 1.1 miles. Find the Maine Tourism Association parking lot near the New Hampshire border just north of Haley Town Road.
So 15 degree weather does not stop us!
Started at otter pond and skied to Gambo Field.
Beautiful blue sky and crisp air. Maine the way it should be. Met a few snowmobiles and only a few other brave walkers. I love this trail and feel so blessed to be able to walk out the door and have this great place to play.
Having ridden bike paths all over New England, I've enjoyed many wonderful experiences towing my toddler in his trailer. My wife and I rode this southern section starting in Standish, and we were generally disappointed. There is little to see, aside from a field and a bridge over a pond. The path had a few potholes and places where a safety fence were falling down. It also doesn't really lead you anywhere interesting, like a place to eat or a town to explore. We wouldn't return to ride this again.
I wasn't sure if dogs were welcome on the Fryeburg end of the trail, but I brought her with me. Unfortunately the DEER FLIES were horrible! It looked like such a nice walk. I will try again another day, with bug spray!
It's a nice trail and you have access all around the trail. The trail leads to a camp so it's a big trail to drive on but there are all these small trails on the side that you can walk down that lead all over the place.My favorite side trail is the train tracks and it leads to the the lake and the bridge.I have been there lots of times only been on the side trails one time and have never made it to the end of the drive part but it is still lots of fun.
Parked at the Windham end and rode to Standish. It was the first ride of the year for my wife and she felt it. The trail has some good hills for a rail trail, but nothing too bad. The Standish end is a dirt detour that is challenging for hybrid bikes, but the rest of the trail is paved. Use caution crossing the rail bridge as there is a little drop off on one end.
I've been geocaching along this trail and asking many people the name of the railroad the rails belong to. A Division is a part of a railroad and each division has a name. So what railroad's abandoned tracks lie along the trail? BTW, there is a strong effort to bring the line back into operation.
While at Raymond Pond I drove down and did the Southern end of this trail. This five mile section is more like a Greenway then a Rails to Trails. It follows a set of tracks and has lots of ups and downs. I went from Rt 202 north and is an up hill grade going north and a nice down hill grade coming back. It has a number of road crossings but all are back roads with very little traffic. I would not go very far out of my way to do this trail but I did have a nice ride. I was on a 29in Mt Bike and I did explore the unimproved section below Rt 202. You can only ride about 1.6 miles down when you come to Rail tracks, it looks like they have just been put down as it looks like new ties. If and when this trail is ever done it will be one of the best trail in the State of Maine.
My husband and I made this ride today with our seven year old daughter. My husband is a pretty experienced mountain biker, I do ok and our seven year old is... Seven :) we all did well!! The paths are marked well, you could really make it as technical or as easy as you wanted.We passed older people, younger people, dog walkers and there was even some police press emcee trying to make sure ATV'a were not around. We picked up the trail at Jonson Field in Standish. Had a great day!!
Most of the Windham/Gorham/Standish section is paved, and a side trip down Gambo Road is well worth the time. Turn south from the trail and a short distance past the soccer field turn-off is the Gambo Dam. If you cross the river and park your bike, the Gambo Powder Mills are off to your left. During the Civil War, one quarter of the gunpowder used by Union forces was produced here, and there are some foundations and remnants of the mill. If you continue on up the hill, a right turn on the Presumpscot River Trail will take you back to the Mountain Division Trail north of the trestle.
I have done the southern section a few years ago and just did the 4-mile section in Fryeburg. This was an enjoyable ride through the country. The scenery is not that special and there is little shade, as another reviewer mentioned. There is one pretty little river crossing. The surface is great, totally smooth pavement. There are a number of nice benches set up in various places but they did not seem very appealing because they are right on the trail. We only noticed one spot where we could spread out a bit for a stop and that was an auto body shop maybe a mile from the western end that has a drink machine, picnic table, awning, and grassy yard right next to the trail. (Also a port-a-potty around the back). We enjoyed a short stop there. The hills were not at all steep in my opinion and we did not find them challenging.
I would also recommend starting at the east and going west before returning so you can stop at the visitor center, as another reviewer mentioned. It does not appear on the map but there is a paved parking lot at the eastern end with room for maybe 10 cars or so.
The section in Gorham and Standish I recall as being a bit more scenic, passing some pretty farms, fields etc., with the same good surface.
A nice 8 mile ride for my wife and I. Plenty of parking at the visitor center, and a quiet ride out and back. It is gently rolling, but feels more downhill going from west to east, so if you want a downhill return ride start on the eastern end. Also will give you a nice rest stop at the visitor center and water refill if needed. Overall a good trail to take the family.
AWESOME SCENERY!!! Used to run the backwoods trails in South Carolina so this brought back so many memories. Climbing the hill makes for a nice challenge. Fresh air, beautiful landscape and challenges for the body definitely a trail worth exploring.
This is a short drive from home so we have been on it several times. The trail is in good shape and has nice rural scenery. Although on a hot summer day it would be nice to have some more shade. One improvement I would like to suggest is bathroom/water facilities somewhere along the route.
We took the trail from the Maine Welcome Center on Route 302 in Fryeburg. This section of trail is a hair over 4 miles.
They did a wonderful job with construction of the trail itself. The asphalt was super smooth, and there were fences, benches, etc.
The trail runs alongside a railroad track. While this is a great example of shared use - the truth is that the scenery on this trail is minimal at best. The trail passes a stretch of light industrial buildings, and then continues along the railroad track until its terminus.
Use of the trail was mixed with bikers, roller bladers, and walkers. There were some young children who had a hard time staying to one side, but it was nice to see them out on the trail getting some exercise. Crowds on the trail were not a problem - although my visit was prior to peak season.
There are plans to develop this trail so that it runs from Fryeburg to Portland. If it does, Maine may be our vacation spot for many years to come! It would also be nice to see this trail extended to North Conway.
I parked on Rte 35 at the baseball field. You have to go down a dirt/gravel road if you choose this entrance for about 1/ 4 mile. Pass the YMCA camp on the left and go up the hill and at the bottom, the trail is there on the right. I have a road bike so this was a bit of a disadvantage for me. At the end of the trail, there is also a gravel section. Local kids hang out around the bridge and jump off into the river below. (not recommended). Bring your own drinks and snacks as there isn't anything around really to get anything and 202 if you go to the right, you can ride into town area, but there is no general store at the end. Pretty ride, quiet, rather isolated. Easy ride, no big hills. Great for families but real young bikers should probably join at the parking closer to 202 to avoid that walk on the road to get to the trail.
Although some of the pictures show this trail as gravel, most of it is paved. The paved trail is a touch narrow for two-way traffic, and the pavement ends near the northwestern terminus, requiring the traveler to use a gravel road. I was bicycle-touring and was much elated to find the path paved but much defrosted to find the end of it unpaved with a short steep gravelly hill. However, even the unpaved portion was a better choice than the nearby road I had been riding.
My journey continued to Fryeburg, and the continuation of this trail will be a boon to future riders.
Newly paved surface along the Mountain Division rail trail from Route 202 in Windham to Otter Pond YMCA camps makes this trail very easy, enjoyable riding.
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