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Active Travels: Hiking Gulf Hagas from Lodge to Lodge

Gulf Hagas, Maine

By Steve Jermanok

The people of Maine often refer to Gulf Hagas as the “Grand Canyon” of the state. There’s nothing wrong with a little zealous pride, but Gulf Hagas is no Grand Canyon.  However, it is one of Maine’s most spectacular hikes. Hidden amidst the 100 Mile Wilderness of the Appalachian Trail, a 45-minute drive on dirt roads from Greenville, Gulf Hagas is a gorge carved by the pounding waters of the Pleasant River and the lumbermen’s dynamite. A series of exquisite waterfalls await you as the river drops nearly 500 feet in 2.5 miles through the narrow walls of the slate canyon. Buttermilk Falls is an apt name for the frothy white foam the water becomes as it churns down the rocks. A swimming hole just beyond the falls is a favorite place for hikers to strip down to their undergarments and plunge into the auburn-red waters. Those piercing screams heard are just folks getting used to the cool temperature.

Now you can hike the Gulf Hagas trail as part of a new lodge to lodge route offered by the Appalachian Mountain Club. Spend the night at Gorman Chairback Lodge, then take the Henderson Brook Trail through a scenic gorge for 1.6 miles. This trail connects with the Rim Trail that will bring you through Gulf Hagas, where you’ll spend the night at the nearby Little Lyford Lodge. The total distance is 8.9 miles, perfect for a day’s trek. If you can add an additional day of hiking at Gorman Chairback, consider heading up to Third Mountain across the Appalachian Trail and back down to the lodge via the Henderson Brook Trail. This is serious moose country, so don’t be surprised to run into one. First opened as a private sporting camp in 1867, it’s hard to top the locale of Gorman Chairback, located on the shores of Long Pond in the shadows of the Barren-Chairback Range.
  Steve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for OutsideMen’s JournalHealth, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily atActive Travels.
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