With 11,000 acres of woodlands and wetlands bordering three lakes near East Machias, the Rocky Lake Public Lands provide opportunities for boating, camping and fishing in a wildlife-rich setting. Bald eagles nest in the area, 10 species of fish frequent the lakes and streams, and dense forests of young spruce and fir provide habitat for deer, snowshoe hare, bobcat, coyote, and even the occasional fisher, bear and moose. The property includes four miles along the upper reaches of the East Machias River, a popular paddling destination that supports sea-run Atlantic salmon.
The glacially sculpted landscape includes meandering streams and rivers, bordered by wetlands, and lakes that run north-south (the direction the glacier traveled), interspersed by low ridges of glacial till. The three lakes (1,555-acre Rocky Lake, 332-acre Second Lake and 275-acre Patrick Lake) draw visitors to fish, canoe, camp, picnic and birdwatch during spring, summer and early fall. Late fall brings hunters, and in winter visitors come by snowmobile (as access roads are not plowed) to ice fish and trap.
While most of the property borders Rocky and Second Lakes, the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands also manages 117 acres on Patrick Lake, three miles east of Rocky Lake. This property includes a gravel boat ramp, parking area and footpath to a picnic area bordering the lake. When water levels drop during summer months, a small sandy beach appears-providing shallow water where children like to swim.
Eleven primitive waterfront campsites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Both boat launch areas (Mud Landing and South Bay) have authorized camping sites, and six more are accessible only by water. In spring and summer, canoers can use Second Lake as a camping stopover on the 2- to 3-day trip down the East Machias River from Pocomoonshine Lake or Route 9 to East Machias (a popular trip of 30 to 45 miles with Class I-III whitewater). Paddlers can add in a side trip to Rocky Lake as well.
State surveys of the warm-water fisheries have found small mouth bass, white perch, yellow perch, chain pickerel, alewife, American eel, white sucker, fallfish, and pumpkinseed sunfish, along with wild eastern brook trout in spring. Common loons and American bitterns thrive on the abundant fish, and waterfowl frequent the 2,000 acres of wetlands (which beaver help to create and sustain).
The State has designated 1,520 acres of the property bordering both sides of the East Machias River an Ecological Reserve, considering it an "exemplary stream shore ecosystem" with wildlife-rich marshes and an unusual silver maple floodplain forest. The Reserve designation helps maintain these ecosystems in their natural condition and allow for monitoring of ecological changes over time.
The property also contains two small sheep laurel-dwarf shrub bogs on the east side of Second Lake and a large wetland complex on the western shore of Rocky Lake that consists of spruce-larch wooded bogs and northern white cedar woodland fens.
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