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Carrabassett River Trail (Narrow Gauge Trail)
Lakes and Mountains Region, ME

Family, Wildlife, Waterfalls
Trail Description
Trailhead Directions

Location: Bigelow to Carrabassett Valley, ME. Franklin County

Trail Length: 6.6 miles one way on out-and-back trail. Additional miles of riding on Sugarloaf Outdoor Center trail system or the Maine Huts & Trails network

Trail Surface: Crushed stone, dirt

Trail Difficulty: Easy

Multi-Use Trails: Mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, cross country skiing, snowshoeing

Caution: Be aware of other trail users. Insect repellent will be helpful during black fly season.

 

 

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Carrabassett River Trail Map

Carrabassett River Trail Map

Note: The free trail maps on this website have been simplified to provide an overview with approximate locations of trails and special features. Read Full Disclaimer.

General Description

The Carrabassett River Trail (Narrow Gauge Trail) follows the former 2-foot wide, narrow gauge track of the Kingfield & Dead River Railroad’s Bigelow extension. The trail runs for 6.6 miles from the Huston Brook Bridge in Kingfield, Maine along the Carrabassett River to it's western trailhead at Bigelow Station, a restored historic rail station in Bigelow. Connecting trail spurs and dirt roads offer a multitude of mountain biking options and easy access to the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center trail network and the Main Huts & Trails system.

If you are looking for adventure, you couldn’t have picked a better place. The Carrabassett River Trail is located in the heart of the Carrabasett Valley at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain, the second highest peak in Maine and home to one of the state’s most popular outdoor recreation destinations, Sugarloaf Ski Resort and Bike Park. It’s the perfect backdrop for a host of outdoor activities. The Carrabassett Valley is famous for it’s downhill, and cross-country ski venues and snowmobile trails. The river valley becomes a premier whitewater and fly fishing destination in the spring and in the summer and fall, mountain bikers, road cyclists, hikers, and moose watchers are drawn to the trails.

While biking the peaceful Carrabassett River Trail through a verdant, forested corridor along the dazzling Carrabassett River, you’ll find it hard to believe that this was once the path that traveled through noisy sawmill towns and busy railroad freight stations.

 

The Trail

The Carrabassett River Trail : Maine's Narrow Gauge Pathway

Trail Highlights: Historic Railroad Station (Bigelow Station), Sugarloaf Outdoor Center Trails, Poplar Stream Falls, swimming holes, mountain and river views.

Everyone will enjoy a day or a weekend of cycling and exploring the area on and around the well-maintained and marked 6.6 mile Carrabassett River Trail. The boulder studded Carrabassett River winds between Sugarloaf and Bigelow mountains and is flanked by the Carrabassett River Trail on the north and scenic Route 27 on the south.

The crushed stone and dirt trail surface, although eroded and pocked in places is just fine for hybrid and mountain bikes. Picnic tables placed at strategic points along the river provide plenty of opportunities to stop and enjoy the wild beauty surrounding you. In places, the water cascades over large boulders forming mini waterfalls and swimming holes.

Begin your bike trip from the eastern terminus at the Carrabassett Valley Trailhead (see directions to the trailhead below). Although the grade travels slightly but steadily uphill for most of the way, it will be an easy downhill ride back to your starting point. Cross the Huston Brook Bridge at the confluence of the Carrabassett River and Huston Brook. Here the river bends sharply southwest for a short distance before returning to the trailside. Cycle west along the narrow, 2-foot wide path bordered by aspen, birch, maple and hemlock. A variety of shrubs, grasses and wildflowers flourish along the corridor and riverbanks. At times the path tightly hugs the river and at times veers away offering alternating amazing views of the river, forest, wetlands and mountains.

Wildlife abounds in the wetlands and riparian vegetation along and around the river's edge. It provides habitat for a huge variety of migratory and native birds. Raccoon, porcupine, red fox, beaver, snowshoe hare, white-tailed deer, black bear, moose, bobcat, fisher are some of the animals that can be found in the river basin.

The trail passes by several scenic bogs and crosses a 400-foot boardwalk over a beaver flowage near the Campbells Field Trailhead at 5 miles. A spur trail heads south to the Campbells Field Trailhead where you can find restrooms, parking, and a picnic area. You can opt to get off the trail here and spend the rest of the day mountain biking the trails at the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center, located adjacent to the trailhead just across Route 27.

To continue your ride on the Carrabassett River Trail, keep pedaling west. In about 1 more mile you'll reach the eastern terminus of the Carrabassett River Trail at the restored Bigelow Station.

 

Tip: From mid-to late October at the peak of the Fall foliage season, golden aspens, brilliant red maples, interspersed with forest green hemlocks and purple Joe-Pye weed will liven up your bike ride with a rich tapestry of color on the Carrabassett River Trail.

 

Other Area Aactivities:

Sugarloaf Outdoor Center

The Outdoor Center offers maintained mountain biking trails to suit all skill and ability levels. The trails range from level dirt roads to challenging, technical singletrack with gravity options. There is no fee to ride the Outdoor Center trails. Trails are not patrolled, and riders are asked to remain on marked trails, wear a helmet, and ride in pairs. The trails can be accessed from the Carrabassett River Trail Campbells Field Trailhead. A kiosk is located adjacent to the parking lot at the Center and free maps are provided.

Trial program of winter Fat Biking has started in 2017. Open 2-6pm on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays when temperature and trail surface conditions are agreeable.

Contact Information:
1-207-237-2000

Website: Sugarloaf Outdoor Center

 

Maine Huts & Trails

Maine Huts and Trails is a non-profit organization whose mission is to create and operate a world-class recreation corridor complete with fully-equipped, eco-friendly “off the grid” huts in Maine’s Western Mountain region. The MH&T 30-mile network of groomed, back country trails are available for hiking and mountain biking spring, summer and fall.

Contact Information:
375 N. Main Street Kingfield, ME 04947 (207) 265.2400
Website: Maine Huts & Trails

 

Poplar Stream Falls

There are two ways to reach these two scenic waterfalls with drops of 25 and 51 feet.

Carriage Road: Turn right onto Carriage Rd off Rt. 27 at the Valley Crossing in Carrabassett Valley. Continue on the Carriage Rd for approximately 2 miles, turn right at the first dirt road, bear to the left and park. This portion of the road is a bit rough, so use caution. There is a nice swimming hole at the Falls located by the road. Permission to use the Carriage Rd is granted on a yearly basis by the generosity of the Penobscot Indian Nation. The road is closed from Nov. 1st to May 15th.

MH&T Gauge Road Trailhead: To reach the MH&T Gauge Trailhead by bike from the Carrabassett Valley Town Office municipal lot, pedal up Carriage Road and instead of turning left on Huston Brook Road, turn right on Gauge Road. Continue straight for a short distance and look for the MH&T Gauge Road Trailhead on the left. The trails to the falls and the MH&T full-service, back-country hut start at the south end of the parking lot near the trail kiosk.

 

Bigelow Nature Preserve

The 36,000 acre Bigelow Nature Preserve encompasses 35,000 acres including the entire Bigelow Mountain Range. It is bounded on the north by 20,000 acre Flagstaff Lake. There are 23 miles of roads and trails to explore including a section of The Appalachian Trail. Swimming is available on Flagstaff Lake. Camping is available at several camping areas and shelters. From Carrabasset Valley, gravel roads off Route 27 lead into the Preserve.

Contact Information:
Maine Bureau of Public Lands 25 Main St. Box 327 Farmington, ME 04938 (207) 778-4111
Website: Bigelow Preserve

 

Directions

Carrabassett Valley Trailhead:
Take Rt.27 from the north or south to Carrabassett Valley and turn onto Carriage Rd. Cross the bridge over the Carrabassett River and park at the Town Office municipal lot on the left. Bike on Carriage Rd. to Huston Brook Rd, turn left and ride about 1.5 miles to the trailhead on the left.

Campbell Field Trailhead:
Take Rt.27 from either Sugarloaf (@1.5 miles) or Carrabassett Valley (about 5 miles) to Campbell Field Rd. (forms a loop off Rt.27). Turn onto Campbell Field Rd. to parking area.

Sugarloaf USA Trailhead: From the north, take Rt.27 and turn into the parking lot for the Anti-Gravity Center just past the Sugarloaf access Rd. on the right. From the south, take Rt.27 and turn left into the parking lot for the Anti-Gravity Center, just before the Sugarloaf Access Rd. Walk your bike back to Rt.27, turn left passing the Sugarloaf Access Rd. and cross a bridge. Trailhead is just after the bridge.

Bigelow Station Trailhead: At about .25 mile north of the Sugarloaf Access Rd. on Rt. 27, turn onto Bigelow Station Rd. and continue to the trailhead.

 

Historical Note:

The Kingfield & Dead River Railroad, was opened in 1894 and ran from Kingfield to Carrabasset, a distance of 9 miles. In 1900, the line was extended to Bigelow. Its primary use was to transport timber, freight and passengers between Agent Stations, lumber and sawmills in Bigelow (formerly Crockertown) and Kingfield. At the turn of the century, the area was bristling with activity. Nearly 100 people were employed at the Bigelow mills. Today the restored Bigelow Station serves as the Carrabassett River Trail’s eastern trailhead and a museum.

 

For more information:

Town Of Carrabassett Valley
1001 Carriage Road
Carrabassett Valley, ME 04947

Phone: (207) 235-2645

 

 

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