river valley towns

Flowing out of the mountains to the west, the rivers passing through Maine’s Lakes and Mountains are a marvel for anyone who enjoys spending time outdoors. Still, our symbiotic relationship with rivers goes far deeper than that. Cities and towns alongside rivers like the broad Androscoggin or the innumerable tributaries have grown and thrived with the aid of, and sometimes despite, their endless flow to the sea.

Rumford and its sister city, Mexico, are vibrant communities in the Androscoggin River Valley. Once home to an immense paper mill, this community has made remarkable strides to recast itself as a cultural and recreational activity hub. Then, a little further along are the triad of Jay, Livermore, and Livermore Falls, towns steeped in history.

Other regional towns like Dixfield, Peru, Andover, Hanover or Canton, Roxbury, and Byron offer something unique. The Dixfield Historical Society Museum beckons history buffs with its fascinating exhibits, while the numerous artisanal shops in Mexico showcase the creativity of local artisans. Rising in the hills south and east of Rangeley, the Sandy River winds through a scenic landscape and down into the college town of Farmington. Its shops, restaurants, and an excellent farmers market make a great stop along the way. As autumn arrives, the riverside byways that connect these cities and towns transform into a canvas of vibrant hues, attracting leaf-peepers from near and far. 

In this idyllic region where nature intertwines with history, the communities along Maine’s Lakes and Mountains River Valleys offer a delightful retreat for those seeking a harmonious blend of outdoor adventure and small-town charm.

must visit spots

Farmington Downtown in the evening


Located on the banks of the soft-moving Sandy River, Farmington stands as a testament to a colonial agricultural community dating to the 1790s. Today, Farmington is a charming college town fueled by the vibrant energy of the University of Maine campus that makes up a large part of downtown. This picturesque destination promises a blend of cultural events, outdoor adventures, and a welcoming atmosphere.

Downtown Farmington exudes a uniquely charming vibe, featuring indie shops, art galleries, and restaurants adorned with modern and often funky decor. One standout annual celebration (and nugget of Jeopardy trivia) is Chester Greenwood Day, a yearly tribute held on the first Saturday of December in honor of their hometown inventor of the earmuffs. Yes, earmuffs.

For those seeking outdoor activities in town, Farmington has many options. Hikers can explore the Village Woods and Flint Woods walking trails. 

On the other hand, cyclists and horseback riders can revel in the 14-mile-long Whistle Stop Trail, tracing the bed of the old Androscoggin Railroad to Rumford. Winter brings a different charm, with snowshoers, Nordic skiers, snowmobiles, and even dogsleds making their mark on the Whistle Stop Trail.

Whether indulging in the local culinary delights, immersing yourself in cultural events, or exploring the outdoors in town, this small city offers a perfect blend of relaxation and excitement.

Paul Bunyan Statue in Rumford


Rumford and neighboring Mexico are a not-too-far-out-of-the-way gem offering activities for visitors in all seasons. This picturesque town, surrounded by a handful of towns along the Androscoggin River, collectively embodies the quintessential charm of New England in what has come to be called Maine’s River Valley.

During Spring and Summer, the Androscoggin River becomes an in-town playground for bass fishing enthusiasts. Rumford Falls, formerly Pennacook Falls, provides a breathtaking spectacle with a gradual plunge of nearly 180 feet. Explorers can embark on the River Walking Trail, adorned with statues of the legendary Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe.

Rumford, Mexico, and other River Valley communities are overflowing with charming historic buildings, tree-lined streets, village greens, white-steepled churches, and inviting country stores,

Much of the beauty seen in the River Valley, across Maine’s Lakes and Mountains, and perhaps much of the United States might have been in jeopardy if it were not for the visionary work of Maine Senator Edwin Muskie. In 1972, the Rumford native and statesman authored the Clean Water Act as a response to the impacts of, and the unsustainable future of, the highly polluted Androscoggin River. Fifty years later, the Clean Water Act is still considered by many to be one of the most influential environmental laws ever enacted in the United States.

Gear from Otis Paper Mill Jay, Livermore, Livermore Falls

jay, livermore, livermore falls

Perched on the edge of Maine’s western mountains in what is known as the Maine River Valley sits the trio of Jay, Livermore, and Livermore Falls. 

In Jay, hiking options are everywhere, leading to scenic river overlooks at Pine Island Park or through the idyllic orchards of North Jay’s White Granite Park. Or ride the 14-mile Whistlestop Trail, starting in Jay and concluding in West Farmington. This trail caters to both motorized and non-motorized use. The town’s Spruce Mountain Ski Slope offers a nostalgic experience with three rope tow lifts that propel enthusiasts 300 vertical feet to the summit.

Livermore takes visitors on a historical journey at the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center. Spread across 455 acres, this complex features meticulously restored structures from a one-room schoolhouse to farm buildings and a Victorian Mansion, providing an immersive experience of life in late 1800s Maine.

For outdoor enthusiasts, Livermore Falls offers the Foundry Trail, a walking and biking path winding along the Androscoggin River. The trail encompasses the Livermore Falls Recreation Area, a site of historical significance as the birthplace of Maine’s first pulp paper mill, built by Alvin Record.

Whether it’s relishing a day on the slopes, exploring historic sites, or immersing oneself in the tranquility of nature, Jay, Livermore, and Livermore Falls beckon visitors.

ways to adventure

Plan Your Trip

Maine’s Lakes and Mountains offers a variety of resources to help you plan your next visit, including an annual visitor’s guide, stand alone map, and the new Adventure Guide App.

Visitor's Guide

Our Free Visitor's Guide will help inspire your next adventure along our mountain trails, lakes, scenic byways, bustling towns and more.

Map of the Region

Companion to the Visitor Guide, our dual-sided planning map will help you find your way to adventure in every season throughout the region.

Adventure Guide App

The App will point the way to all kinds of adventures, experiences and destinations in Maine’s Lakes and Mountains with GPS location maps and alerts.

Maine's Lakes and Mountains by the numbers

4,000+ footers
Mountain Peaks
Lakes and Ponds
+Towns and Villages
Square Miles of Adventure
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