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The Sanford-Springvale Rail Trail (also known as Railroad Trail) traverses the woods on either side of Sanford’s scenic Springvale community in southern Maine. Founded by a mill owner in the 17th century, it later became home for textile mills powered by the Mousam River. When the mills relocated in the 1950s, the town diversified its industrial base, with woolen mills and aircraft and their parts now making up the area’s commerce.
The gravel trail runs for nearly 6 miles as it links a shady brook in the east to a woodsy property line in the west. A couple of segments meander off the historic rail corridor onto private easements. Its gravel surface ranges from firm to loose and is best suited to bicycles with wide tires; ATVs, snowmobiles, and horses also use the trail.
The trail tracks the corridor of the Sanford and Eastern Railroad, the last survivor of railroads that began serving the area in the 1840s. The Worcester, Nashua and Rochester Railroad combined those original rail lines in 1883 and later was acquired by the Boston and Maine Railroad (B&M). The B&M began to discontinue use on rail segments in Maine in the 1940s, however, and sold off its line from Rochester to Portland in 1949. That became the Sanford and Eastern Railroad that existed in the Sanford area until 1961.
Starting at the trailhead on Pleasant Street/SR 224 in Springvale, trail users can go east toward US 202 or west toward Deering Pond. Those traveling east will find a rougher trail. First you’ll pass an old freight depot that’s currently a private business. Then, in about 0.6 mile, the trail leaves the rail corridor and turns right onto a power line right-of-way. Look for the trail heading left into the woods in about 0.1 mile. From there the trail travels through the woods and crosses SR 224/Shaws Ridge Road, then a field, and then crosses SR 224/Shaws Ridge Road again. The trail goes to the right of a clump of trees and ends at Hay Brook in less than 0.5 mile.
You’ll find a firmer trail surface heading west from the Pleasant Street trailhead. In a few feet you’ll cross the Mousam River that powered mills in the 1800s. Just past the river, the Mousam Way Trail splits to the left and passes Stump Pond on its way to Sanford High School, the YMCA, and several parks in Sanford. The Sanford-Springvale Rail Trail briefly leaves the corridor at Mousam Street. Turn left here and then right onto Witham Street. The trail reappears on the right in 0.1 mile and runs behind some businesses to Main Street. Back on the rail corridor, the trail gently climbs past Deering Pond to Hanson Ridge Road in 2 miles. From there, the trail passes through more forest to its endpoint in 0.8 mile at the town line.
To reach the eastern trailhead on Pleasant St./SR 224 from I-95, take Exit 19 onto SR 109/Sanford Road. Turn right (northwest) onto SR 109/Sanford Road, and go 9.5 miles. At the traffic circle, take the first exit right onto SR 4 N/Alfred Road. Go 2.1 miles north on SR 4/Alfred Road, turn left onto Grammar Road, and go another 2.1 miles. Continue straight onto SR 224 W, and go 1.4 miles. Turn right onto Railroad Ave., and almost immediately turn right into the trailhead parking lot. The endpoint is located 1.7 miles farther east along the trail.
To reach the western trailhead on Hanson Ridge Road from I-95, take Exit 19 onto SR 109/Sanford Road. Turn right (northwest) onto SR 109/Sanford Road, go 9.5 miles, and take the second exit off the traffic circle to continue on SR 109/SR 4A/Main St. Go 2.7 miles, and turn left onto US 202/SR 11/Lebanon St. Go 0.4 mile, and turn right onto Hanson Ridge Road. Go 2.7 miles, and look for trailhead parking on the right. The endpoint is located 1.6 miles farther west along the trail.
Tried to bike the trail, but had to turn around. The surface is chewed up, with massive potholes and lots of hazards.
Not a good trail for biking. Was like biking through a sand dune. Looks pretty decent for anything else though.
Good trail but lists of off road vehicles, not the best choice for riders
great snowshoeing today
took my son out for some biking, hadn't been through this area in years. trail is well maintained and is a easy ride.
A friend and I rode this trail 11/2/15. The trail is blocked by a logging operation when traveling southwest, just after crossing Hanson Ridge Road. The loggers have skidded trees across the trail many times making it a quagmire both on the trail, and for considerable distances upslope and downslope. It is not possible to carry a bicycle around the quagmire. This is unfortunate as the trail was a very enjoyable ride to the point of the logging operation. I realize that logging is going to disturb the landscape, but in this case the disturbances seem unnecessarily severe, and are definitely preventing full use of the trail. I have sent an email about the disturbances to the Maine District Forester in Alfred.
Trails are in great condition this year just hit the trails last weekend 6/8/14 all trails groomed there are sand pits at the end of trail after the gas station on the left side
I ride this trail daily it's beautiful, lotts of animals passing through like deer all kinds of bird spicies terrain is ok it's walkable bike able hike able if ur in the area it's worth a look at deering pond it's a nice site to look at enjoy
Took the trail starting at the Oak St. parking area. Headed SW. Found the trail to be clean and graded fairly recently. Previous reviews have indicated that it was nearly impassable for biking but we found it very well graded and clean. A good job of trail maintenance with a new (2011) concrete bridge at the ridge road entrance. Easy walking with a gradual incline/decline depending on direction. Did about 3/4 of the trail due to time restrictions. Will definitely visit it again.
"Trails has long stretches of deep and steep ""washboard"" ridges and deep loose sand from the ATV traffic. Trail no longer suitable for mountain biking or cross country skiing."
"This trail is almost unbikeable. It is very rough, rocky, uneven and frequently has ATV's on it, traveling at high speeds. It is dangerous for bikers and I do not reccomend it."
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