and The Hermitage are both located in the Bowdoin College Grant East, T7 R10 NWP, an unorganized township east of Greenville and northwest of Brownville.
The area is part of the Appalachian Trail corridor owned by the National Park Service. Approaches from each town are over a private logging road on which control gates regulate the issuance of permits for a small fee.
Although the nickname “the Grand Canyon of Maine” is a significant exaggeration, this nearly four mile long gorge is a spectacular sight, at times displaying vertical slate walls 300′ to 400′ deep. The west branch of the Pleasant River drops some 400′ here creating numerous waterfalls, chutes, and pools. The falls are said to be particularly dramatic during the spring runoff.
Trails lead from two parking areas, one of which is the Pleasant River parking area. This trail travels through the Hermitage preserve to the Pleasant River, which must be forded. The loop trail of approximately 8.5 miles provides outstanding views but can be challenging. Sheer cliffs of approximately 100 feet mark both sides of the gorge, often dropping off very near the main trail. Luckily a cut-off trail provides a shorter option those who want to limit their degree of adventure. The Appalachian Trail is marked with white blazes (2″ x 6″); other trails, with blue blazes.
The Screw Auger Falls is the first notable site that appears just after fording a small stream. These photos were taken A portion of Screw Auger Falls at Gulf Hagas during the relatively dry summer of 2002. Spring runoff waters swell the West Branch of the Pleasant River substantially, creating spectacular action at the falls and challenging those who ford the river at the outset of the hike.
Beyond the falls are views of the three-mile long Gulf Hagas gorge and its facing walls that rise over 100 feet. The “Jaws” are so-named for the two outcroppings that nearly bridge the gorge.
In addition to the Pleasant River site, another starting point is from the Hermitage or Hay Brook parking area on the north side of the Pleasant River.
The Hermitage consists of 35 acres of stately 150-year-old-growth white pine on a bluff overlooking the Pleasant River. Hikers to the Gulf pass through the area. This National Natural Landmark includes five kettle hole remains of a retreating glacier, the largest of which is Pugwash Pond. On the Appalachian Trail near Gulf Hagas and the Katahdin Iron Works, The Hermitage is managed by the Nature Conservancy.