GULF HAGAS


Bowdoin College Grant East, Maine



RATING: 5.0 / 5.0 stars (Outstanding) Screw Auger Falls, Gulf Hagas, Maine
(see below for larger image and additional photographs)
STATE: Maine
COUNTY: Piscataquis County
TOWN: Bowdoin College Grant East
PARK: Appalachian National Scenic Trail
PRIVATE PROPERTY: No (although the access road to get to the trailhead is)
TYPE: Plunges, horsetails, and cascades
HEIGHT: Varies (see notes)
WATER SOURCE: West Branch of the Pleasant River and Gulf Hagas Brook
WATERSHED SIZE: Medium
TRAIL LENGTH: 8.6 mile loop
TRAIL DIFFICULTY: Moderate side of difficult
HIKING TIME: 6 hour loop
ALTITUDE GAIN: To Screw Auger Falls, up 300 feet, down 75 feet; for entire loop, up 700 feet, down 700 feet
WHEN TO VISIT: July to October
SWIMMING: Excellent
DELORME ATLAS: Page 42, D-1 (the falls are actually marked as 'The Hermitage' on the ME atlas/map)
HANDICAP ACCESS: No
DOGS ALLOWED: To be determined (our guess is that they are probably allowed)
COST TO VISIT: Yes (a per-person access fee is charged)
LENS TO BRING: Wide-angle (14-35mm) or standard (35-70mm)
ALTERNATE NAMES: Screw Auger Falls
GPS COORDINATES: To be determined
INCLUDED IN BOOK?: Yes, the falls are included as a full chapter within the guidebook
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THE FALLS

In just under nine miles of hiking, a visitor to Gulf Hagas can explore and take pleasure in about a dozen natural features, including four officially named waterfalls, dozens of unnamed cascades, tempting swimming pools, a gorge often referred to as 'The Grand Canyon of Maine', and two scenic rivers: Gulf Hagas Brook and the West Branch of the Pleasant River. Managed through the cooperative efforts of the National Park Service, the Maine Appalachian Trail Club, and KI Jo-Mary, Inc., Gulf Hagas offers an easy-to-follow trail system that allows hours of day-trip enjoyment. This is easily one of Maine's finest day hikes.

With so many natural features (and so many chances for both exploration and swimming), it is no surprise that the waterfalls of Gulf Hagas rank among the most popular in the state. Luckily for you, the majority of the waterfall crowds remain at Screw Auger Falls, never bothering to venture along the rim of the gorge to the falls that lie upstream. All falls warrant the effort required, as each is beautiful and scenic in its own way.

Screw Auger Falls is our favorite falls on the hike. At the waterfall, Gulf Hagas Brook drops 25 feet in a punchbowl formation into a deep, dark pool encircled by a bowl-shaped rock wall. The pool, although not relatively small compared to other classic swimming holes in Maine, still manages to be quite refreshing for the five or six visitors that can fit in it at any point in time. When visiting the falls, you should be aware that other unnamed waterfalls lie above and below Screw Auger Falls. Some of these additional falls also have swimming pools of their own, and are also recommended in their own properties. Three more waterfalls are accessed by continuing past Screw Auger Falls along the rim of the gorge. The first waterfall, about 2.8 miles from the parking trailhead, is Buttermilk Falls, a 10-foot horsetail with a portion of its water diverting its way down a perpendicular slide to the right of the main route of the water. There is a large pool here that is often swum in by several people on any given summer day, but the water can have a slightly foamy appearance, forcing us to rate the pool as only somewhat attractive. Beyond Buttermilk Falls lies Billings Falls, a 15-foot plunge with unobstructed views of the canyon, and Stairs Falls, an extensive system of little stairs cascading over jagged steps. Just 4 feet in height, Stairs Falls is short, but quite interesting and only feet from the main trail. The final stop of the trip is the Head of the Gulf. At mile 4.0 from the parking lot, the 'Head' is a good place to rest your legs as it is located at about the half-way point of the hike. There are several cascades and small pools to admire before setting out on the return trip back to the parking lot via the Pleasant River Road Trail.

TRAIL INFORMATION

Trail information for this particular waterfall can be found in the latest edition of the guidebook: New England Waterfalls: 2nd Edition.

DIRECTIONS

Directions for this particular waterfall can be found in the latest edition of the guidebook: New England Waterfalls: 2nd Edition.

UPDATES SINCE THE 2ND EDITION

NONE NOTED.

If you know of any updates to this waterfall, or notice any errors either on this website and/or within the New England Waterfalls guidebook, please send me an email at: gparsons66@hotmail.com

Updates to all of the waterfalls in the latest edition of the New England Waterfalls guidebook can always be found here: book updates

SPECIAL NOTES

None noted.

PHOTOGRAPHS

Screw Auger Falls, Gulf Hagas, Maine
Screw Auger Falls, Gulf Hagas, Maine

Screw Auger Falls, Gulf Hagas, Maine
Screw Auger Falls, Gulf Hagas, Maine

Screw Auger Falls, Gulf Hagas, Maine
Screw Auger Falls, Gulf Hagas, Maine

Screw Auger Falls, Gulf Hagas, Maine
Screw Auger Falls, Gulf Hagas, Maine

Screw Auger Falls, Gulf Hagas, Maine
Screw Auger Falls, Gulf Hagas, Maine

INTERESTED IN VISITING MORE WATERFALLS IN NEW ENGLAND?

Our 376-page New England Waterfalls: 2nd Edition guidebook contains detailed information on over 400 waterfalls throughout New England. Click on the image below to read reviews and/or purchase the guidebook on Amazon.com.



New England Waterfalls

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TIPS FOR VISITING WATERFALLS & SWIMMING HOLES

Here are some tips to help ensure that your trip to New England's waterfalls and swimming holes will be a safe and enjoyable one:
  • DON'T FORGET THE ESSENTIALS - When you visit waterfalls, you should consider bringing all of the following: (a) bug spray; (b) food/snacks; (c) water/sports drinks; (d) camera/smart-phone; (e) guidebook/trail map; (f) daypack/backpack; and (g) hiking shoes, hiking boots or watershoes. A full day hiking packing list can be found here.
  • CONSIDER BUYING WATER SHOES - You won't see too many people using them, but watershoes are fantastic pieces of equipment that can make your trip to waterfalls and swimming holes safer and more enjoyable. Merrill and Keen make some fantastic watershoes (here are some great ones from Merrill: womens / mens).
  • LEAVE NO TRACE - When you visit waterfalls and swimming holes, you'll often see some trash and sometimes you'll even find clothing left behind by others. It's really, really sad, and it irks the heck out of us. Won't you consider carrying out some of trash and clothing left by others when you leave? That would leave the spot more beautiful for the next person. Bring a trash bag and be a hero!
  • PRIVATE PROPERTY - Many waterfalls and swimming holes are located on private property and so we are truly fortunate that many landowners allow us to enjoy them. If you want to ensure that they stay open to the public, please do your best to leave no trace. If you see a sign that says 'Private Property', turn around and find another waterfall to visit or a different place to swim.
  • BRING A DSLR CAMERA AND TRIPOD WITH YOU - If you want to take high-quality photographs of waterfalls, your smart-phone just won't cut it. Get a DSLR camera, a tripod, and learn to master the art of waterfall photography.
  • SCOUT FIRST, SWIM SECOND - Never enter a swimming hole without first scouting it, even if you see somebody else swimming in it. Stop and access the risks based upon the depth of water, the power of the current, evidence of slippery rocks, and other safety factors.
  • CLIFF JUMPING - Cliff jumping is dangerous. Like, seriously dangerous. Understand the risks before you partake in this activity. Many have died from doing this in New England.
  • PLEASE DON'T BUILD ROCK CAIRNS - Please do not build new rock cairns at waterfalls or swimming holes. Cairns are a strong reminder of human presence, and don't we all want to see waterfalls in their natural state and glory? Photographers get particularly annoyed at seeing cairns, so please resist the urge to build them.
  • DON'T RELY ON YOUR GPS TO GET YOU TO THE TRAILHEAD - Waterfalls don't have addresses, so relying on your GPS to get you to a trailhead is great way to get yourself lost. You need a guidebook, a road atlas, and/or a hiking map to visit the vast majority of waterfalls in New England. Also keep in mind that waterfalls are often located in wild areas, where smart-phone map apps and car GPS units may not work at all.
  • WATERFALLS IN SPRING - The best time to visit waterfalls is generally in the spring during the annual snowmelt (which is April to June). However, most waterfalls will often look great for several days after a significant rain storm.
  • HELP KEEP THE ULTRA-SECRET SWIMMING HOLES A SECRET (FOREVER) - If you find some ultra-secret swimming holes, please do your best to keep them a secret. Do not post their locations online or wildly share directions or photos with others. All of the swimming holes that are included in the guidebook and online through this website are the well-known swimming spots. There are many more holes that are much further off the beaten path, but they deserve a chance to stay wild and pristine.
  • DON'T SCRAMBLE UP WATERFALLS - So many people been seriously injured and killed in the waterfalls of New England. Many of these folks got too close to a waterfall and slipped and fell. Don't become a statistic: stay far back from the edge.
  • WEAR TRACTION IF YOU VISIT WATERFALLS IN WINTER - Visiting waterfalls in winter can be rewarding, but there is often a higher element of danger. You may need crampons, snowshoes, and/or some other form of traction (like Microspikes) in order to safely hike to waterfalls in winter.
  • SUPPORT NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS THAT CONSERVE WATERFALLS & SWIMMING HOLES - There are some organizations in New England that work diligently to conserve and maintain waterfalls and swimming holes. Please consider supporting these organizations, either with their trail maintenance projects or with monetary donations. Here are three excellent organizations engaged in this extremely important mission: the Trustees of Reservations, the Vermont River Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy.

HELPFUL LINKS

Here are some helpful links to help you explore and enjoy more waterfalls and hikes throughout New England:
  • Waterfalls of Connecticut = link
  • Waterfalls of Maine = link
  • Waterfalls of Massachusetts = link
  • Waterfalls of New Hampshire = link
  • Waterfalls of Rhode Island = link
  • Waterfalls of Vermont = link
  • Best Waterfalls in New England = link
  • Best Swimming Holes in New England = link
  • Top 25 Day Hikes in New England = link
  • Top 25 Family-Friendly Day Hikes in New England = link
  • Waterfalls Near Boston, Massachusetts = link
  • Waterfalls Near Lincoln, New Hampshire = link
  • Waterfalls Near North Conway, New Hampshire = link
  • Waterfalls Near Stowe, Vermont = link
  • Waterfall Photography Tips = link

OTHER WATERFALL GUIDEBOOKS

In addition to the New England Waterfalls guidebook, there are several other guidebooks that can help you find waterfalls and swimming holes:
  • Vermont Waterfalls (1st Edition: 2015) = link
  • Hiking Waterfalls in New England: A Guide to the Region's Best Waterfall Hikes (1st Edition: 2015) = link
  • Waterfalls of the White Mountains: 30 Hikes to 100 Waterfalls (2nd Edition: 1999) = link
  • Connecticut Waterfalls (1st Edition: 2014) = link
  • Rodrick's Guide to Vermont Waterfalls, Cascades & Gorges (1st Edition: 2014) = link
       

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Waterfalls, swimming holes, and hiking can be extremely dangerous. Hundreds of people have been injured or killed in the waterfalls and swimming holes of New England over the years. Never swim in strong water currents. Don't jump into a swimming hole without scouting it first. Do not climb up or along the side of waterfalls. Be weary of slippery rocks. Never swim in pools above waterfalls. Use of this website and all of its information is at your own risk! Newenglandwaterfalls.com and the authors of the New England Waterfalls guidebook will not be held liable for your actions. Be safe out there - and always use common sense!