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Hike & Swim Gulf Hagas

Gulf Hagas is often called "the grand canyon of Maine" because of its cliffs, waterfalls, deep pools and beautiful vistas. Invite your friends to this great day of hiking moderate-difficult trails and swimming in the falls! 

The Gen Rev Outdoor Club Gulf Hagas hike is Saturday June 23rd!

Gen Rev Outdoor Club Hike Leader: Eric Thompson; Dan Long helping to coordinate and lead.

If questions or to RSVP please call, text or e-mail Dan: 207-991-0810

This is a mid to difficult level hike because of the distance.   From start to finish it is about 8.6 miles.  This is one of the most Beautiful hikes in the state and is known as the “Grand Canyon of Maine” or the “Grand Canyon of the East.”  There a number of waterfalls to view or swim in.  Over the course of a three mile section of the hike, the river drops about 500 feet, forming several spectacular waterfalls and swimming holes. In some places, the rock walls the border the river are more than 100 feet tall.


While this is not a mountain trail, the trail changes elevation quite a bit as it travels along the edge of the river, over slate cliffs and through the woods. Expect steep slopes for relatively short distances, rugged terrain and tricky footing due to rocks and exposed tree roots. We will stop frequently for pics, snacks and swimming as desired while also being mindful of the time to be sure we get back to the vehicles at a decent time. 


The trail follows the edge of a gorge.  You will want to bring a pair of water shoes or old sneakers as the first part of the trail takes you across the West Branch of the Pleasant River that could be from about 8” deep or as much as up to your knees depending on the rain we’ve had.  Although there is current, it’s a pretty easy crossing and fun to do with others that you can hold onto.  After the crossing, you can exchange your water shoes for a dry pair of hiking boots (and socks) for the rest of the trail.


When To Meet/When Home: We will meet at the Bells Orono IGA parking lot right off I95 (exit 193) at 7:00 am.  We will leave at 7:00 am so don’t be late!  If driving, you should know that you will be driving on about 16 miles of dirt roads.  It is about 50 minutes to Brownville Junction, and then 10 miles to the KI checkpoint where you pay the fee.  From there about 7 miles to the trailhead.  We definitely encourage carpooling.  Plan on being home at around supper time but note that our supper time will be hours earlier due to the active day.


How to get there: From Brownville Junction, drive north on Route 11 about 3.5 miles and turn left onto Katahdin Ironwork Road. Drive about 6.5 miles to the KI checkpoint and gatehouse, where you are required to register and pay a fee of $10 per Maine resident. After the gatehouse, continue on the road and cross a bridge, then take a sharp right turn. Drive about 3.5 miles and turn left at a fork in the road, following signs to Gulf Hagas. Drive another 2.9 miles and the Gulf Hagas parking area will be on your right. This is the east trailhead for the hike, closest to Screw Auger Falls.


The Hike: Starting from the Gulf Hagas Trailhead (the east trailhead) at approximately 8:30 am, we will hike 0.2 miles following blue blazes to the edge of the West Branch of the Pleasant River. At the river, we take the Appalachian Trail (blazed in white paint) and wade across the river. On the far side of the river, we follow the Appalachian Trail another 1.3 miles to the Gulf Hagas Rim Trail. Before getting there, we’ll need to cross a small brook.  The Rim Trail is 3 miles long and visits (from east to west) Screw Auger Falls, Lower Falls, Hammond Street Pitch, The Jaws, Buttermilk Falls, Stair Falls, Billings Falls and the Head of the Gulf.  To make it a loop hike, we will hike the Rim Trail out, then return via Pleasant River Road (2.2 miles), which runs parallel to the Rim Trail but is farther from the river’s edge and is much easier to travel. Compared to the Rim Trail, Pleasant River Road (which is actually a trail) is smoother and flatter, with sections of bog bridges that offer a welcome break from navigating around rocks and tree roots.


The Gulf Hagas Trails are connected to the Appalachian Trail in Maine’s 100-Mile Wilderness, a famous stretch of the Appalachian Trail that doesn’t cross any major roads for approximately 100 miles from Monson to Baxter State Park. The trails are remote. Plan ahead and prepare for your hike.


Dogs are permitted but must be kept under control at all times. It is important to use a leash on this hike because the Rim Trail passes near cliffs. It’s also advisable to bring athletic tape in your pack’s medical kit, as the sharp rocks on the trail may cut the foot pads of your dog. Some small dogs may have difficulty navigating the steep, rocky slopes, especially on the Rim Trail near the Head of the Gulf, the toughest section of the hike.


What to Bring: You will need a back pack containing water shoes (or your hiking boots or sneakers and dry socks if you start out wearing your water shoes), bug spray, lunch, water (at least 2 litres), snacks (suggest lots of granola bars as you will get hungry), medication, first aid supplies, sun glasses, hat, sun block, bathing suit, toilet paper, walking stick (optional), flashlight, lighter or waterproof matches, Gate fee –CASH OR CHECK ONLY! $10 for Maine residents and $15 for non-residents.  Consider bringing extra water and snacks to leave in the car for when you finish the hike. If carpooling, consider splitting gas.  Bring money for supper after the hike (probably pizza in Milo.)  Get a good night’s sleep!


RSVP:  Please e-mail, text or call Dan Long if you are interested in going or have questions.  Looking forward to this exciting adventure!

Earlier Event: June 10
The Great Pig Roast
Later Event: July 15
Summer Picnic