June 12, 2010

100-Mile Wilderness keeps getting better

By Deirdre Fleming dfleming@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The 100-Mile Wilderness is known as a hiking haven, the section of the Appalachian Trail between Monson and Mount Katahdin.

click image to enlarge

Outdoor enthusiasts will see more opportunities to enjoy pristine Second Roach Pond.

Telegram file photo

click image to enlarge

An 8.5-mile trail already exists from Medawisla Wilderness Lodge and Cabins to West Branch Pond Camps, pictured. At Second Roach Pond, a canoe trip to remote camping sites is being mapped out.

Telegram file photo

But the Appalachian Mountain Club's land purchase in this area last winter is increasing the get-out goodness in this wild area.

For right now, it means more wild brook trout fishing, more mountain biking, canoeing and camping, and the same amount of fun come wintertime.

AMC's roughly 10-year-old Maine Woods Initiative plan to help protect the 100-Mile Wilderness region is old news, but it's worth noting that in these hard times, the effort is not slowing down.

With the help of land conservation agencies such as the Nature Conservancy, the Trust for Public Land and the Maine Department of Conservation, this protected back-country wilderness is growing and expanding by the season.

After the purchase last November that expanded AMC's managed land holdings in the region from the 37,000 acres of the Katahdin Iron Works property to a total of 65,000 acres, there is ongoing work to make multiday adventures possible.

Right now it's accessed from the road to Kokadjo, the Lily Bay Road, and offers opportunities for Nordic skiing, mountain biking, hiking, canoeing, camping and fishing.

In the next several months, AMC plans to add a fourth sporting camp to its network of camps, which are connected by Nordic ski trails.

This summer there will be work to improve trails to five backcountry fishing ponds on the Katahdin Iron Works property, said AMC Public Affairs Director Rob Burbank.

An 8.5-mile trail already exists from Medawisla Wilderness Lodge and Cabins to West Branch Pond Camps that people can use.

At Second Roach Pond, a canoe trip to remote camping sites is being mapped out.

"Now there is basically a 63-mile stretch of conservation land open to public use stretching from AMC's Katahdin Iron Works to Baxter State Park," Burbank said.

It's not a continuous walking trail, but it's an area rich in logging history, sporting-camp traditions, remote ponds and wild brook trout waters. And it already has a lot for recreation.

This area is important within the bigger effort that includes the work of conservation groups like the Conservancy, which in 2002 helped protect more than 240,000 acres in the region. That property includes the Debsconeag Lakes region, which contains the highest concentration of remote ponds in New England as well as a 15-mile section of the 100-Mile Wilderness.

It also connects to Baxter State Park's more than 200,000 acres of protected lands.

The Appalachian Mountain Club's most recent purchase of the roughly 30,000 acres around Second Roach Pond closed the gap on that land, expanding this protected area to 650,000 acres.

"The parcel has been the missing link in a corridor of protected land," said AMC vice president Walter Graff.

The headwaters of the West Branch of the Pleasant River are in the Katahdin Iron Works property and sustain native brook trout.

The Roach Pond tract has nine great ponds and two designated as remote ponds: Fourth Roach and Beaver.

The area is rich for fishing, along with back-country hiking, mountain biking and canoeing.

The opportunities are only going to increase as AMC creates access points, Burbank said.

"We're doing an inventory of the property to make sure we understand what's there and to identify the future of recreational opportunity," Burbank said. 

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

dfleming@pressherald.com

Outdoor enthusiasts will see more opportunities to enjoy pristine Second Roach Pond.Telegram file photo by Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Telegram file photo by Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

An 8.5-mile trail already exists from Medawisla Wilderness Lodge and Cabins to West Branch Pond Camps, pictured. At Second Roach Pond, a canoe trip to remote camping sites is being mapped out.

 

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