Bowdoin College Grant East,
(click for larger image)
||Bowdoin College Grant East
||Plunges, horsetails, and cascades
||Varies (see notes)
||West Branch of the Pleasant River and Gulf Hagas Brook
||8.6 mile loop
||Moderate side of difficult
||To Screw Auger Falls, up 300 feet, down 75 feet; for entire loop, up 700 feet, down 700 feet
|BEST TIME TO VISIT:
||July to October
||Page 42, D-1 (marked as ?The Hermitage?)
|INCLUDED IN BOOK:
||Yes (Included in 2nd Edition of book as a full chapter)
||Unsure, but I believe its OK
|COST TO VISIT:
||Access Fee Charged
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 for this particular waterfall is not posted online. Please see trail information in our published guidebook, New England Waterfalls: A Guide to More Than 400 Cascades And Waterfalls.
Directions for this particular waterfall are not posted online. Please see directions in our published guidebook, New England Waterfalls: A Guide to More Than 400 Cascades And Waterfalls.
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