The following is an excerpt from the 3rd Edition of Quiet Water Maine: AMC’s Canoe and Kayak Guide.
The scenic Roach ponds, now part of AMC’s Maine Woods land, no longer suffer from extensive clear-cutting. These remote ponds offer an outstanding opportunity to see wildlife. We’ve spotted loons, bald eagles, ospreys, moose, otters, beavers, and black bears here.
Location: Shawtown Township, T1 R12 WELS
Maps: Maine Atlas & Gazetteer, Map 42: A1, B1, B2; USGS Farrar Mountain, Wadleigh Mountain
Area: Second Roach Pond, 970 acres; Third Roach Pond, 570 acres; Fourth Roach Pond, 266 acres
Time: Multiday; shorter trips possible
Habitat Type: Wilderness ponds, rich with wildlife
Fish: Brook trout, landlocked salmon, white perch (see fish advisories, Appendix A)
Information: Lodging at AMC’s Medawisla Lodge & Cabins, outdoors.org/lodging, 207-358-5187 (scheduled to open in 2017)
Take Note: No personal watercraft; campfire permits required, 207-827-1800
Second Roach Pond. From Greenville, go north about 18 miles on Main Street/Lily Bay Road to Kokadjo. After crossing the bridge in Kokadjo, go 0.4 mile on North Shore Road and turn left on Sias Hill Road. Go 1.5 miles (cumulative: 1.9 miles) and turn right on Smithtown Road. Stay on the main road for 5.9 miles (7.8 miles) and turn left to AMC’s Medawisla Lodge and Second Roach Pond. (45° 40.560´ N, 69° 19.584´ W)
Fourth Roach Pond. From the Medawisla access road, continue 4.3 miles (cumulative: 12.1 miles) on Smithtown Road, park next to a green gate, and carry your boat 0.5 mile to the pond. A boat dolly may be available. (45°
38.256´N, 69° 15.810´ W)
Third Roach Pond Southeast Arm. From the Medawisla access road, continue 6.8 miles (cumulative: 14.6 miles) on Smithtown Road to a small parking area on the left. Carry your boat 250 yards downhill to the pond. (45° 37.986´ N, 69° 13.140´ W)
Third Roach Pond Northeast Arm. From the Medawisla access road, continue 8.7 miles (cumulative: 16.5 miles) on Smithtown Road, staying on main road, then turn left at the T. Go 1 mile (17.5 miles) to the access on the left: the third of three unimproved roads in quick succession. Carry your boat 200 yards down to the pond. (45° 39.642´ N, 69° 13.740´W)
The abundant wildlife that awaits you makes the trip into remote Second, Third, and Fourth Roach ponds well worth the effort. If you camp at the primitive campsites, you would likely have the whole place to yourself—along with the moose, deer, otters, eagles, and other wildlife that abounds.
During two days on Third and Fourth Roach ponds in late July, we saw four moose, including a very large bull; a deer with two fawns; two otters; loons, including one pair with two chicks; a large family of common mergansers; and a bald eagles. During a more recent visit, camping at one of the new campsites on Second Road Pond, we were treated to spectacular skies and several industrious beaver. In the amount and variety of wildlife we have seen, these ponds rank near the top.
A typical northern Maine woodland of spruce, balsam fir, white pine, cedar, and paper birch extends away from the rocky shoreline. On the long point of land reaching south from Third into Fourth Roach Pond, however, you will see a very different red pine forest. You can get out and walk, picnic, or camp under the open red pine canopy very easily, unlike most other forest types in this area. Marshy areas occur at the ends of the various fingers. At the northeast end of Third Roach, the water becomes very shallow, with yellow pond lilies and other floating vegetation, while grasses and sedges grow along the perimeter. Right at the tip, we watched a bull moose neck-deep in the ooze, grazing on this vegetation while protecting itself from biting flies. It is remarkable how moose can extract themselves after wallowing in the underlying muck.
Third and Fourth Roach ponds connect via a small, rocky stream. In spring, you can probably paddle between these ponds, but by midsummer, you need to wade through the couple hundred feet of this stream, pulling your boat.
From these ponds, one used to get a clear view of extensive clear-cutting that long took place on the surrounding hills, separated only by a paper-thin “beauty strip”—that ribbon of uncut woods left along the perimeter of most ponds. But since AMC acquired the Roach Ponds Tract, the logging scars are healing, although some limited clear-cutting will continue, including the gradual removal of plantation trees planted by Plum Creek Timber Company.
The wonderful campsite at Third Roach Pond’s southeast end backs up against a hill rising 700 feet from the pond and offers a protected sandy beach for a relaxing swim after a day of exploration.
Second Roach Pond is now the most accessible of these three ponds, with paddling access near the rebuilt Medawisla Lodge & Cabins, replacing the old buildings that were torn down (scheduled to open in 2017). Medawisla is an American Indian name for loon, and the 1981 movie On Golden Pond featured loon recordings made here.
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