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Rhon Bell

Rhon Bell, an outdoor enthusiast, spends his time exploring the Maine Woods and documenting his journeys. Growing up in Aroostook County, he embraced the outdoor lifestyle at a young age. Living today near Portland, he spends weekends and week-long adventures hiking New England summits, canoeing the historic Maine waterways, and ice fishing for lake trout. Follow the journey as Window to the Woods discovers new destinations, and check out his other blog, Backwoods Plaid.

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Window to the Woods with Rhon Bell
Posted: April 22, 2014

Hiking Gulf Hagas: "The Grand Canyon of Maine"

Prepare for a weekend of scenic waterfalls, hiking at its best and camping the way it’s supposed to be. You’ll arrive at historic Gulf Hagas (west of Moosehead Lake) which is called the “Grand Canyon of the East” because of a 3-mile long gorge on the Pleasant River. After a  worthwhile and rather quick (3.5 hour) drive from Portland.  As part of the Appalachian Trail, this area is primitive and as relatively “untouched by man” as you can seemingly get these days.  An old sign will point you left off the main drag and you’ll begin seeing dust kick up behind the rear tires as you head towards the campsites. This elicits the feeling of adventure as you (hopefully) leave cellular service behind–for at least a couple days.

This area, once known as Katahdin Iron Works, operated with 16 blast furnaces, that separated iron from ore, at the height of operations from 1843 – 1890 it  burned 50 cords of wood in six days and then took 10 days to cool. This land once held a hotel and employed hundreds of men, but now  is simply prime hiking and camping territory with just a couple blast furnaces remaining intact; it almost appears nothing ever happened here.

Today we hike the Gulf Hagas Rim Trail. You’ll leave the parking lot and cross Pleasant River by foot  (bring water shoes) and after only one mile in, come to one of the most scenic spots in Maine– Screw Auger Falls. The trail loop continues beyond and comes full circle back to the trail head. Total trip is approximately 8 miles. Maps can be purchased for $2 at the check-in station.

Photo courtesy of

(Photo courtesy of

Back at camp there are 60 campsites, all very well spaced out. Some have lake views, others face the mountains. If you’re looking for solitude and a place to find yourself, collect your thoughts, take photos and enjoy a peaceful campfire, come on up to Gulf Hagas!

Camping Rates: $34/per night (this is for two adults)

Full Directions: To reach the eastern trailhead, drive north on ME 11 and turn west on the Katahdin Iron Works Road, 4.0 miles north of Brownville Junction. Follow this road for 6.8 miles to the gatehouse. Register with the caretake and pay the gate fee. Beyond the gate, take the right fork. In 3.4 miles from the gatehouse, the road reaches a second fork. Stay left here, crossing the West Branch of the Pleasant River. The road reaches the trailhead parking area 6.8 miles from the gatehouse.


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