Saint John Valley Heritage Trail


Saint John Valley Heritage Trail Facts

States: Maine
Counties: Aroostook
Length: 17 miles
Trail end points: Sunset Dr. (Saint Francis) and Caribou Rd./SR 161 (Fort Kent)
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6016089
Trail activities: ATV, Fishing, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Snowmobiling, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Saint John Valley Heritage Trail Description

The Saint John Valley Heritage Trail traces 16.9 miles of the former Fish River Railroad corridor, which was taken over by the Bangor & Aroostook Railroad, a line that transported goods and passengers across northern Maine. Skirting the Saint John River, the well-maintained, crushed-stone trail offers views of the forests, farmlands and wetlands on the Canadian side of the river.

Start your trail exploration in the historic town of Fort Kent. The wooden blockhouse is the only remnant of the Aroostook War of 1838/39, a border dispute between Maine and New Brunswick that was settled without any actual fighting. The fort is on Blockhouse Road, at the confluence of the Fish and St. John rivers. Your first stop should be the restored 1902 train station, which served as the Fish River Railroad terminus. Now owned by the Fort Kent Historical Society, it houses a museum devoted to the railroad.

Back on the trail, you'll soon cross a pedestrian bridge over the Fish River. As the trail continues through Fort Kent, watch for road crossings and spurs that lead to restaurants, service stations and other businesses. Beyond town, the trail passes through forests and wetlands along the banks of the Saint John. Although the trail parallels State Route 161 for several miles, the mixed forest remains quiet and serene. In the town of Wheelock, the trail crosses to the north side of 161. This section offers the best views of villages and farms in New Brunswick.

When you reach the town of Saint John, the trail again crosses Route 161, passing behind homes and shops. Exercise caution on the busy road. Nearing the trail's end in Saint Francis, you'll pass a railroad turntable recently restored by Fort Kent High School students, who also built a path leading into town. The St. John Valley Heritage Trail soon ends at a large parking lot and trailhead. The Fort Kent trailhead is behind the gas station on Market Street, and State Route 161 is lined with access points.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the Saint Francis trailhead at the west end of the St. John Valley Heritage Trail, take Route 161 to Sunset Drive. Parking is on the left, just past the church.

Saint John Valley Heritage Trail Reviews

Rode the trail end to end on a Saturday. Only saw a couple of ATVs. The trail is firmly packed the entire way making for a great ride with no extra effort. You can really make great time as a result. What a beautiful trail. You go through the small town of Kent and soon are in the middle of some beautiful forest. About half way you reach the river which provides for great views for several miles to the end. You can get some great pictures of New Brunswick Canada just on the other side of the river. The river separates the US and Canada and you pretty much follow the border the entire way. This trail is at the very top of Maine but if you get up there I recommend you give this one a try. One note on trail head location. The trail introduction talks about being behind the gas station but there are a few of these on Market street. The trail is actually right behind a little store / pharmacy on the left side leaving town. About .75 miles. I stayed in Edmundston Canada which is only about 18 miles away but there are many smaller places on the US side I wished I looked up before committing to the Best Western. Anyway it is a great hotel. Off to the Aroostock Valley Trail.

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