Whistle Stop Rail-Trail

Maine

Whistle Stop Rail-Trail Facts

States: Maine
Counties: Franklin
Length: 15.7 miles
Trail end points: Bridge Street (Livermore Falls) and Oak Street (Farmington)
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone, Dirt, Sand
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015985
Trail activities: ATV, Fishing, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Snowmobiling, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Whistle Stop Rail-Trail Description

The Whistle Stop Rail-Trail is a textbook example of how diverse groups can work together to maintain and promote a trail. Developed as a route for snowmobiles and ORVs, the route also appeals to hikers and mountain bikers. It's no wonder. The corridor spans the range of environments Maine's Western Mountain region has to offer. Never far from small community centers, the trail meanders through residential areas then plunges back into wetland wilderness and beaver habitat. The trail's sandy, sometimes rutted surface and trailside pine and mixed deciduous forest demand your attention.

While the trail is accessible from numerous points in Livermore Falls, Jay, Wilton, and Farmington, the latter offers the best trailhead parking. Just south of the trailhead is another inviting feature: a warming hut that centers on a wood-burning stove stocked with a ready supply of split wood. Sponsored by Franklin Memorial Hospital, the yurt also offers instructional signs for fitness exercises. Signs direct trail users down a 0.25-mile side trail to the health center's restrooms and café.

Farther along the Whistle Stop, you'll cross several bridges maintained by area snowmobile and ATV clubs. These span scenic Sevenmile Stream, part of the massive Androscoggin watershed. North of Jay a large, granite-block embankment marks the site of the old North Jay Quarry. The Maine and New Hampshire Granite Corporation operated along the rail bed from 1886 until the early 1900s. Crews would cut and haul large blocks of white granite along a rail siding to a cutting shed, where the blocks were further shaped and sculpted for use in buildings across the country. Interpretive signs tell the story and include historical photographs of the quarry.

In Jay, you can access the French Falls Park along the river and connect to Maine Interconnected Trail System 84. Continue along the river and you will soon reach the town of Livermore Falls.

Parking and Trail Access

To reach the Farmington trailhead, head into town on US 2 and take Bridge Street to the four-way stop. Turn left here on Oak Street then right on Farmer Lane to the trailhead parking area.

In Jay park at French Falls Park on French Falls Lane off the southwest side of State Route 4/17.

Whistle Stop Rail-Trail Reviews

Started our bike ride at West Farmington. There's lots of free parking. We went to Shelly'sHometown market in Wilton and turned around, approx 8 miles rt. Nice easy ride, flat with hard surface. Going to try to go further the other way next time.

The trail is a muti use trail. The ATVs that use it have tilled up the surface with their tires and made it to soft to bike on even with wide tires.

I road the trail end to end on a Wednesday leaving at 7:30 am. I was a little worried about "soft" terrain based on some other reviews but only encountered it in a few areas and was not that bad. I would still only venture out on a mountain bike and not a hybrid. You do need the wider tires. I finished in about 3.5 hours with plenty of stops for pictures and short breaks. I only saw one ATV along the way. Food and drink can be obtained at several locations along the trail. There is a nice mix of forest, rivers, and marshes. There is very little if at all elevation change. Very enjoyable trail. Definitely recommend it to other mountain bikers. This is the first of several more rails to trails in Maine I plan on doing over the next two weeks. Off to do the Kennebec Valley Trail and will provide updated review as well.

Accordion

The Northern portion of the trail from the trail head in West Farmington to Main St. in East Wilton and the Southern portion from the Old Jay Hill Rd to downtown Jay have good good, firm well graded gravel surfaces. They were in good condition in spite of recent heavy rain. The center portion of the trail, beginning South of Main St in East Wilton was increasing difficult. First there were trail-wide puddles from rain 36 hours earlier, then the trail surface became unsuitable for hybrid bike use. It is rough, rocky and too loose for safe riding. Serious mountain bikers who are looking for a workout many find this section useful but this rider does not recommend a full length ride of this trail for recreational riders. This is a great trail for 4 wheelers but a full length round trip on two wheels was more work than fun and I can't recommend it.

On Wednesday, August 18th, my wife an I rode a tandem, mountain bike equiped with shocks, on this trail from Jay to Farmington and back. It was a tough, tough ride. We have ridden several rail trails in New Hampshire and this was the hardest we have ridden. It was very sandy for most of the trail. In parts, where is ran next to the highway nearer to Farmington, the trail was wavy with loose sand between the dips. There were also stretches with rocks protruding from the trail. If the scenery was beautiful, which my wife claimed it was, I couldn't say as I was very focused on steering us though the trail's maze. At one point, nearer to Framington, the trail crosses the main highway. There was considerable traffic with only a very small safety island between the lanes. It was a scramble.

When we arrived at Farmington there were two riders loading their bikes onto a bikerack. We spoke and they told us they had planned to ride to Jay, but the trail was too sandy so they turned back. They expressed surprise that we had made it.

My wife and I walked the bike into Farmington, about a mile+ and had a nice lunch at a local coffee shop, then rode back down to the trail and back to Jay. It was an exhausting ride back, and I expressed surprise we had made it.

During the roundtrip we passed several ATVs the riders of which were considerate of us and pulled over to wait for us to pass, three or four lunchtime walkers near a business establishment, and four bicyclists. There was lots of evidence of ATV use on the trail. Personally I would this rail trail, in it's current condition, is more suitable for the ATV.

Wow, what a surprisingly nice trail! My DH and i rode this trail Sunday May 9 2010 from Farmington to the Munson Rd Crossing in Wilton. We've rode the Nashua Rail Trail from Ayer to Nashua (all paved and not very challenging-12.25 miles one way) and we've rode the Warren County Bike Trail and went right into the Feeder Canal Trail. (Paved and unpaved-We did 28 miles round trip that day).

Using the directions on this site it was very easy to find the parking area in Farmington. It had rained all day the day before but the trail, being a hard packed gravel trail, was not wet at all, except for a few puddles when we got close or around the Wilton area. We rode our full suspension MTBs. A hybrid bike would work great for this trail. We did find the trail is more loose gravel and a sand gravel mix beyond West Wilton, but it also had lots of evidence of ATV use, which most likely made the trail gravel loose. Not horrible or unridable at the time we rode it, just a little more challenging and engaged a little more cardio to get past this area. This trail also follows the river quite a bit, which was beautiful and appeared very clean. The day we rode it was a little cold out, so we only came across a couple of hikers and a couple of joggers. Very quiet.

We lingered for a short time at the Yurt, which is only 2-3 miles from the Farmington parking area, also we rode the trail by the yurt which goes behind the hospital property. That was nice and FUN, but we had to double back and get back on the WST (whistle stop trail) It was also nice that there were signs pointing you to restaurants, coffee, etc. along the way and in West Wilton there is a little convenence store you ride right past, picnic tables behind it by the river. So if you really didn't want to bring snacks, lunch or drinks with you, you can get stuff during the ride.

We did about 7-8 miles of the trail, but we'd love to go back sometime and ride the Jay end toward Farmington. Our trip took about 1hr 45 mins. I'll try to post a few picts of the trail.

"The northern third of this trail, between Wilton & Farmington has an improved surface, which is hard-packed and suitable for hybrid or Mountain bikes."

This trail should be resurfaced with material suitable for bikes. I tried the trail on a mountain bike and found it not enjoyable. My tires sank into the sand constantly making it almost impossible to ride.

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