French Falls River Walk has expanded to include a yellow trail, not shown on this map. The system includes 2.5-miles of trails specified for foot traffic only. Franklin Journal photo by Dee Menear

JAY — It was a grueling winter. Even for those who enthusiastically embrace outdoor activity no matter the season. But, spring has finally arrived and with it, comes the opportunity to witness fresh starts. What was a few short weeks ago a trail covered in deep snow is now a path lined with sparse shoots of green grass and trees beginning to bud.

 

The release of winter’s grip not only means a transition of seasons but it means a transition of outdoor activities as well. Snowshoes and ice fishing gear have been packed away; hiking boots and fly-fishing rods stand at the ready.

A walk along the trails of French Falls Recreation Area in Jay seemed to be the perfect lunch time activity to satisfy a craving to feel the spring air, and to be outdoors without layers of winter clothing.

Whimsical red and pink hearts recently adorned the trees along the trails. Franklin Journal photo by Dee Menear

French Falls is a nearly 30-acre property owned and conserved by the Androscoggin Land Trust and leased to the Town of Jay. The parcel includes a 10 acre ball field and a 2.5 mile network of riverside trails specified for foot traffic only.

A bit of whimsy welcomed me on my first visit of the year. Glittery pink and red heart ornaments adorned the trees along the blue-blazed trail, my pick for the day. I choose this route because the .6-mile trail hugs the river and overlooks French Falls. Picnic tables are scattered at intervals along the trail, truly making this an ideal destination for a workday, or weekend, meal.

The trails are well-maintained and clearly marked with very little change in elevation. The trail system offers tidbits of history: an old portion of the original Route 4, an old dam, and remnants of the logging operations that were once in place here.

Picnic tables are scattered along the trails. Franklin Journal photo by Dee Menear

To access French Falls Recreation Area from Main Street, turn onto French Falls Lane across from Spruce Mountain Middle School. Follow this road for approximately one-tenth mile to the parking area. The ball field will be on the right. The trailhead is on the far end of the parking area. Trail maps are available at the trailhead. The trail system is open dawn to dusk. Leashed dogs are welcome.


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