Gulf Hagas is a two and a half mile (4 km) long water-formed canyon. The river falls 500 feet (150 m) in the canyon, including multiple waterfalls. It is sometimes called the "Grand Canyon of the East". It is an eight mile (round trip) side trip off the 100-mile wilderness section of the Appalachian Trail. The Gulf Hagas area is part of the Appalachian Trail corridor, which is federally owned and managed under the auspices of the National Park Service (NPS) and the Appalachian Trail Conference (ATC). Gulf Hagas is a primitive area and help for lost or injured hikers may be many hours and miles away. Inexperienced or ill-prepared hikers and families with young children should be cautious about tackling the Gulf Hagas Rim Trail, which is a difficult and often slippery hike. Consider stopping at the Hermitage, a beautiful old growth pine stand owned by the Nature Conservancy, or at Screw Auger Falls. You can access Gulf Hagas from Hay Brook, where there is a small parking area. It is a short distance from the parking area to the West Branch of the Pleasant River. The river is about 150 feet wide at the trail crossing point. There is no bridge. In the summer; the current is usually mild and the water usually about knee deep (for an adult of average height). In the spring, and following heavy rains, the current is swifter and the water deeper. The Hermitage is about ½ mile from the parking lot. Screw Auger Falls is about a mile beyond the Hermitage. The trail is moderately difficult. Before you hike the Gulf Hagas Rim Trail, you should have a trail map, which can be purchased at the checkpoints, or a USGS topo sheet, and a compass. Sturdy footwear (not sandals or sneakers) appropriate seasonal clothing and an adequate supply of food and water are strongly recommended. From Screw Auger Falls, the Gulf Hagas Rim Trail is about 3 miles to the junction with the old Pleasant River Tote Road. This section of trail is considered difficult and rocks can be quite slippery. From the junction of the Rim Trail and the Tote Road, it’s about 2 miles of moderately difficult hiking along the Tote Road back to Screw Auger Falls. The Maine Appalachian Trail Club (MATC) is a volunteer organization, dedicated to managing, protecting and maintaining the 267 miles of the trail from Grafton Notch to Mt. Katahdin. These volunteer citizens work hard to maintain the trails and signs in Gulf Hagas. Signs and trail markers may seem like tempting souvenirs, but theft and vandalism are illegal and rude. It spoils the natural beauty of the area and can result in other hikers losing their way - a serious threat to their personal safety. Search and rescue efforts are costly for Maine taxpayers and dangerous for the searcher.
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