May 25, 2018
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Favorite Places in Maine: Gulf Hagas

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

Gulf Hagas — dubbed the Grand Canyon of the East — is a hidden system of trails in the Katahdin Iron Works Township that features six waterfalls and touches upon the Appalachian Trail.

The Gulf Hagas trail system has a 5.2-mile loop that runs along the West Branch of Pleasant River. The water has cut chutes into the rock and created pools perfect for swimming. In other areas, vertical walls covered with trees reach more than 300 feet up to the sky, or drop down into valleys, depending on your vantage point.

Shortly after leaving the main Gulf Hagus parking area, hikers must ford the West Branch. Once past the river, hikers follow the Appalachian Trail for the first mile or so to Screw Auger Falls. It is an easy, slightly uphill stroll. Screw Auger Falls is where the Gulf Hagas trail system begins.

The waterfalls at this point are directly beside the trail and are a perfect spot to cool off during the summer months. Before continuing, hikers must decide if they want to take the Rim Trail, which goes along the river, or the Pleasant River Tote Trail.

Many people start off on the Rim Trail (which includes access to Hammond Street Pitch, The Jaws, Buttermilk Falls, Billings Falls and ends at Stair Falls) and at some points can be quite rigorous. They return on the easier Pleasant River Tote Trail, which offers excellent views of the landscape, but not the river or waterfalls.

The canyon and land around it was proclaimed a national landmark in 1968 and is a beautiful place to spend a day hiking, swimming and enjoying a picnic lunch.

Getting There

From Greenville: Take Greenville Road about 10 miles east to the Hedgehog Checkpoint. This is where you pay the $6 fee for adults and $3 for children to enter Katahdin Iron Works. Once you hit the Katahdin Iron Works Road, or KI road, you can go left for about a mile to the Upper Gulf parking area or go right for about 3.5 miles to the main Gulf Hagas parking area.

From Milo: Take Route 11 north and about 3 miles past Brownville Junction is the junction with the Katahdin Iron Works Road, on the left. The Katahdin Ironworks checkpoint, where you pay the fee, is about 5 miles away and the main Gulf Hagas parking lot is another 5 miles down the road.

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