Difficulty: Easy. The trail is wide, smooth and travels over a few gentle hills and wide wooden bridges. It’s a little less than 1 mile from the trailhead at Medawisla Lodge to the farthest point on the trail at shore of Second Roach Pond.
How to get there: From the traffic light in the center of downtown Greenville, head north on Lily Bay Road for 19 paved miles to Kokadjo, where you’ll find Kokadjo Trading Post and Convenience Store. After the store, you’ll cross a bridge over the Roach River. About 0.4 mile after the bridge, bear left where the pavement ends. Drive 1.6 miles, then bear right at the sign for Medawisla Lodge. Drive 5.7 miles, staying on the main road and following signs to Medawisla, and the driveway to the lodge will be on your left. Park at one of the two lodge parking areas, and the trailhead for Hinkley Cove Trail is at the west end of the campus, to the west of the group of cabins by the shore. The trail begins with a footbridge over Roach River.
The GPS coordinates for the lodge are 45.674”N -69.321”W.
Information: The family-friendly Hinkley Cove Trail is one of the many hiking trails owned and maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club east of Moosehead Lake, in an area known as Maine’s 100-Mile Wilderness. This easy trail is about 1 mile in length and was recently constructed so that visitors to AMC’s new Medawisla Lodge and Cabins can enjoy a quiet stroll through the woods to a long, gravel point on Second Roach Pond. The trail — along with other AMC trails — is open to the general public for free.
Featuring wide wooden bridges and a smooth gravel surface, the Hinkley Cove Trail begins west of Medawisla Lodge, where a footbridge crosses the Roach River as it flows out of Second Roach Pond. The trail then winds through a beautiful forest, over gentle hills and over a few trickling brooks as it traces the shore of Second Roach Pond at a distance.
Early on, the trail crosses the edge of “The Farm,” an area that houses AMC crews that are working on nearby trails. And at 0.6 mile, the trail splits. Veer right to continue on the trail to the shore of Second Roach Pond. If you veer left, you’ll be taking Hinkley Connector Trail to the gravel Nahmakanta Road.
The wide, gravel portion of the Hinkley Cove Trail ends at the shore of Second Roach Pond about 0.2 mile after the intersection with the Hinkley Connector Trail. From that point, the trail becomes narrower and travels through a dense evergreen forest as it follows the shore to the tip of the point. Along the way are several points of access to the water, where you’ll find a small gravel beach and piles of old wood that have been washed ashore.
The trail dead-ends at the end of the point, so it is an out-and-back hike that is just under two miles. From the shore of the lake, you can look across the water to the nearby Trout and Shaw mountains.
Second Roach Pond is large as far as ponds go, covering 970 acres and housing a wide variety of fish, including brook trout and landlocked salmon, according to the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The pond once held a population of lake whitefish, the report states, but that population disappeared by the late 1970s. Yellow perch were reported in the 1990s and quickly became abundant throughout the entire lower Roach River drainage by the early 2000s.
The multitude of fish in the pond explain the frequent presence of bald eagles, which are often seen flying over the water and perched on tall white pine trees that line the shore and grow on small islands in the pond.
For many people, Hinkley Cove Trail is just a part of their adventure in the area. Nearby are a number of other trails that are owned and maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club, including the 2.6-mile Lakeside Trail, which starts to the east of Medawisla Lodge and also traces the shore of Second Roach Pond. Branching off of the Lakeside Trail is the 1.3-mile Emmett Brook Trail and the 0.5-mile Shaw Mountain Cutoff, which runs toward the challenging Shaw Mountain Trail. Also nearby are miles of cross-country ski trails, new single-track mountain biking trails on Trout Mountain and AMC-maintained paddle-to campsites on Second Roach Pond, Third Roach Pond, Fourth Roach Pond and Trout Pond.
Founded in 1876, the Appalachian Mountain Club — AMC for short — conserves huge swaths of land in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions, while promoting outdoor recreation and education.
The Maine Chapter of AMC was founded in 1956, and today has more than 5,300 members. And through AMC’s Maine Woods Initiative, the organization owns and has conserved more than 70,000 acres of land in the 100-Mile Wilderness region.
For more information about AMC, including the organization’s trails, lodges and cabins in Maine, visit outdoors.org or call the AMC Greenville office, located at 15 Moosehead Lake Road, at 207-695-3085. Also, here’s a trail map.
Personal note: As a part of my circuit of presentations and books signings for my first guidebook, “Family-Friendly Hikes in Maine,” I traveled to Greenville on Tuesday, June 27, to receive a warm welcome at the Shaw Public Library. The event, which started at 5 p.m., was organized by a small local hiking group called Northwoods Wellness Collective, and more specifically, the group’s leader, Samantha Coffin, who moved to the Moosehead Lake Region with her husband from Boston not too long ago, looking for a change of lifestyle. They now live at and manage Tomhegan Wilderness Cabins, which is located on Moosehead Lake in the town of Rockwood, and Samantha established Northwoods Wellness Collective so she could meet people and get outdoors.
Before the library presentation, I decided to spend the day in the Moosehead Area — where moose crossing signs adorn the side of the road every few miles. So I called the Appalachian Mountain Club office in Greenville to see if the organization had anything new going on that I could write about. As it turns out, they did. AMC’s new Medawisla Lodge and Cabins were opening in just a few days, on July 1, after a complete rebuild. And surrounding with the wilderness lodge — where people can rent cabins and enjoy home-cooked meals — were a number of new hiking and biking trails. That was enough to lure me past Greenville, around the east side of Moosehead Lake, through Kokadjo and out to Second Roach Pond on a network of logging roads.
I arrived at the lodge around lunchtime, received a tour (during which I was impressed by both the size and beauty of the $6 million build), then walked to the western edge of campus to check out the Hinkley Cove Trail, which I was told would be popular among lodge guests.
Where there hadn’t been many bugs to speak of on the open campus of Medawisla, I discovered they’d all been hiding in the woods. As soon as I crossed the bridge over Roach Brook and entered the shade of the forest, I was attacked by mosquitoes. Fortunately, I remembered to coat myself generously with bug repellant, but I’m not sure how much good it did. A few itchy bites on my shoulders and ankles had me walking the trail as quickly as possible. I laughed as I remembered something the AMC Operations Manager Dan Rinard asked me earlier at the lodge. “Do you trail run?” he’d asked as we discussed the area’s trails. “No,” I had replied. “I walk pretty slowly, in fact, to photograph and film — or that’s my excuse.”
With a horde of mosquitoes chasing after me, I was realizing the merits of trail running. It was perhaps the wrong time of year to be enjoying the Hinckley Cove Trail. Later in the season, it would be far less buggy. Each time I paused to photograph a fresh moose track or woodland flower, they caught up with me.
Fortunately, when the trail reached the shore of Second Roach Pond, a fresh breeze drove away the pesky flies and I was able to enjoy the beautiful scenery — and reapply my insect repellent — in peace. Sitting on the gravel shore, I watched two bald eagles soar over the water and land in tall white pine trees of a nearby island. A large water bug landed on my leg. Waves lapped at the shore.
Then the breeze died. A mosquito found lip, bit it, and it began to swell as if the bug had punched me in the face. Thus motivated, I returned to the trail and tested my skill at trail running, all the way back to the bridge over Roach River. There I stood, enjoyed the breeze once again, and photographed various butterflies and dragonflies before retreating to my car.