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  • Writer's pictureGerry Caron

Discover the Majesty of Gulf Hagas: The Grand Canyon of Maine

Updated: Jun 4

whitewater rafting through Gulf Hagas

Region: The Maine Highlands:

Activities: Hiking (Moderate to Difficult), Sightseeing

Day Fee: Collected at Ki-Jo Mary Checkpoint, CASH OR CHECKS ONLY

Note: No Bicycles Allowed

Often described as ‘The Grand Canyon of Maine,’ Gulf Hagas is a striking slate gorge in Northern Maine. Over the decades, Gulf Hagas has drawn lumbermen—who once ran logs down the narrow waterway—along with hikers, swimmers, and even adventurous kayakers who take on the gorge’s often-ferocious Class V whitewater.

About three miles long, the gorge was carved deeply through the slate by the waters of the West Branch of the Pleasant River. Its stark, stone walls rise over 100 feet high in places. Inside the gorge, the river drops hundreds of feet through a series of rapids, pools, and waterfalls.

The Gulf Hagas area is part of a challenging section of Maine’s Appalachian Trail known as the 100-Mile Wilderness. Gulf Hagas is extremely popular with day hikers. It offers good access and a variety of trails, providing both short walks and all-day adventures with extraordinary views. Those looking for something short and scenic often opt for a trip to Screw Auger Falls, a 3.5-mile hike from one of the area parking lots. Hiking the entire gorge, round trip, is more than 8 miles, depending on which end of Gulf Hagas the hike starts from. A round-trip hike offers many waterfall and cliff overlooks, providing countless photo opportunities and breathtaking scenery.

Tips for Visiting Gulf Hagas:

  • Prepare for a Strenuous Hike: While there are shorter, scenic options, the full hike through the gorge is challenging. Ensure you're in good physical condition and bring plenty of water and snacks.

  • Check the Weather: Maine’s weather can be unpredictable. Dress in layers and be prepared for sudden changes in temperature or conditions.

  • Respect the Environment: Gulf Hagas is a pristine natural area. Carry out all trash and stay on designated trails to help preserve the landscape for future generations.

As you traverse the rugged trails and make your way through the gorge, you'll encounter several notable waterfalls, each offering unique views and experiences.

Key Waterfalls in Gulf Hagas:

  • Location: 3.5 miles from the nearest parking lot

  • Description: One of the most popular spots in Gulf Hagas, Screw Auger Falls features a dramatic plunge into a deep pool. This waterfall is a favorite among hikers for its accessibility and the scenic views it offers. The surrounding rock formations and the lush forest backdrop make it a perfect spot for photography and relaxation.

  • Location: Along the main trail through the gorge

  • Description: As its name suggests, Buttermilk Falls flows gracefully over a series of smooth, cascading rock layers, creating a milky, frothy appearance. The falls are surrounded by verdant foliage, making it a picturesque stop along your hike. This waterfall is particularly striking during the spring thaw when water levels are at their peak. 3.) Billings Falls

  • Location: Near the middle of the gorge

  • Description: Billings Falls is known for its powerful flow and the deep, roaring sound it produces as it crashes over the rocks. This waterfall is a bit more remote, requiring a longer hike to reach, but the journey is well worth it. The falls are a popular spot for more adventurous hikers looking to experience the raw power of nature up close. 4.) Gorge Falls

  • Location: Toward the northern end of the gorge

  • Description: Gorge Falls is characterized by its steep drop and the narrow chasm through which the water rushes. The falls create a misty spray that cools hikers as they pass by, adding to the ethereal atmosphere of the gorge. The surrounding cliffs provide excellent vantage points for viewing the falls from various angles. 5.) Stair Falls

  • Location: Near the entrance of the gorge

  • Description: Stair Falls is named for its distinctive, stepped appearance, as the water tumbles down a series of rock ledges. This waterfall is easily accessible and offers a great starting point for your Gulf Hagas adventure. The natural "stairs" create small pools that are perfect for dipping your feet on a hot day.

What to Do in Moosehead Lake

For those seeking more activities and detailed guides, Moose River Lookout offers a wealth of information about the Moosehead Lake area. From seasonal events and community news to outdoor adventure guides and dining recommendations, Moose River Lookout is your new resource for exploring the region. In addition to hiking, you can find information on boating, fishing, camping, and local attractions.

Want more information checkout our Moosehead News!

As you traverse the Monson, Shirley, Greenville, Rockwood, and Jackman areas of Maine, make Moose River Lookout in Rockwood your sanctuary. Nestled along the picturesque Moose River at the foot of the magnificent Blue Ridge Mountain, our Moosehead Lake cabin accommodations offer unrivaled access to the region's natural splendor. With a private dock and direct access to the ITS66 trail system, Moose River Lookout provides the perfect blend of comfort and adventure for your Maine getaway.

For your ideal accommodation in the heart of Moosehead Lake's natural beauty, look no further than Moose River Lookout and book with us today!


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