Alfred Dufour of the Jay Recreation Committee keeps a fire going Tuesday at French Falls Recreation Area. Snowshoers circled the fire before and after exploring the riverfront trails during a supermoon snowshoe hike hosted by Androscoggin Land Trust and the recreation committee.(Franklin Journal Photo by Dee Menear)

JAY — Novice and experienced snowshoers of all ages gathered under the light of Tuesday’s supermoon to explore a wooded parcel along the Androscoggin River as the moon lit up the river and nearby fields, and peeked through the trees.

Bernadette Harvell of Farmington, front, and Ruby Couturier of Livermore Falls snowshoe Tuesday evening at French Falls Recreation Area in Jay. Franklin Journal photo by Dee Menear

The occasion was a guided snowshoe hike along the 2.5-mile network of riverside trails at French Falls Recreation Area, a 29.4-acre property owned and conserved by the Androscoggin Land Trust and leased to the town. The town and the trust collaborated to host the event.

“We are thankful for the great relationship we have with the town and recreation committee,” said Shelley Kruszewski, Androscoggin Land Trust executive director. “They do a wonderful job of hosting events and maintaining the area. Randy and Don are amazing stewards of the land.”

Randy Easter and Don Leclerc help maintain the trails for year-round foot traffic use. Easter, Leclerc and Marty Thorne led the trail tours and shared their knowledge of the natural and historic landmarks such as sections of abandoned roads, an old dam and a large pile of rocks removed from the river long ago to make log drives easier.

“My favorite part is snowshoeing down by the river,” said Barrett “Bear” Bryant, 7, of Livermore Falls.

His sister, Devin Bryant, 10, also of Livermore Falls said her family snowshoes a lot. “We’ve never gone at night before,” she said. “This was our first time. It is a lot of fun.”

“We were excited to hear a lot of local people saying they didn’t know the trails were here, or knew but didn’t know they were maintained in the winter,” Kruszewski said after the hike ended. “I am thrilled with the adventurous spirit of the people who came out to join us. We are hopeful people will continue to use the trails as a way to connect with the Androscoggin River and to enjoy the outdoors.”

Snowshoers warm up by a bonfire Tuesday after exploring the riverfront trails during a supermoon snowshoe hike hosted by Androscoggin Land Trust and the recreation committee. Franklin Journal photo by Dee Menear

“I was blown away by how magical it was with the moonlight and the river,” added Julia Harper, Androscoggin Land Trust associate director.

French Falls Recreation Area is at the end of French Falls Drive. A trail map is posted at the arch entrance. Four trails loop and intersect, giving users a variety of options for hike length and difficulty. The majority of trail sections are level with very slight elevation changes. The blue-blazed trail offers more of a challenge with a steeper grade.

Founded in 1989, the trust conserves 6,000 acres from Jay to Durham along the Androscoggin River watershed, Kruszewski said.

For more information about French Falls Recreation Area and other Androscoggin Lane Trust parcels, visit androscogginlandtrust.org.

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