DESCRIPTION: Screw Auger Falls is the iconic waterfall of the Gulf Hagas area, and justifiably so. In many ways it is an almost perfect waterfall—more than six waterfalls in fact. The falls are located on Gulf Hagas Brook, which flows into the east branch of the Pleasant River less than a mile below. The old Pleasant River tote road crosses the brook immediately above a small falls and pool. The tote road continues west into the Gulf Hagas National Natural Landmark area. A blue-blazed side trail to the left parallels the brook downstream, providing views and access to the falls. Farther below, this trail becomes the Gulf Hagas rim trail. There are several small, pretty cascades below the pool at the tote road crossing. Next comes the upper falls, twin 12 foot high horsetail plumes into a deep plunge pool, in a narrow, scenic canyon. 100 yards downstream, a short side trail leads to Screw Auger Falls proper, a 15 foot plunge into a deep circular pool, walled in on two sides by its own mini canyon. This is a great swimming spot, although diving and swimming directly under the falls are not recommended. 20 yards below, the stream plunges yet again, six feet into another deep pool and canyon. Below this gorge, there are three or four additional small falls each three to six feet in height, all but one of which has its own scenic pool. These smaller falls, well worth visiting in their own right, may be reached during low water by following the brook upstream from the lower falls. The lower falls, a perfect “bridal train” cascade with its own placid, pretty pool, is located 0.4 miles below the tote road crossing, and is reached via a 200 yard side trail from the blue-blazed main access trail. The lower falls by itself is a worthwhile destination, and its pool is a better choice for swimming with small children. There are additional minor pools and cascades still farther downstream, primarily of interest to trout fishermen.
Scenic Rating: 4/5
Difficulty Rating: 3/5
Hike Duration: 2-7 hours
Handicap Access: No
GPS Reading: N45.4845 W69.3064
Township: Bowdoin College Grant East
DeLorme Atlas: Map 42 D1 marked in DeLorme
DIRECTIONS: Screw Auger Falls can be reached from either the Pleasant River or Hay Brook parking areas via a moderate trail hike. The hike from the Pleasant River parking area is slightly shorter (3.0 miles round trip), but requires a ford of the Pleasant River—usually knee deep in late summer, but potentially difficult (and cold) in early spring or following a day or two of hard rain. The slightly longer hike from the Hay Brook parking area (3.6 miles round trip) avoids the river crossing, and allows for stops at High Bridge and Hay Brook Falls. The major portion of either route follows part of the Appalachian Trail, so in late summer and fall you are likely to encounter one or more through-hikers nearing the end of their 2160 mile trek from Springer Mountain in Georgia.
From Pleasant River Parking Area: Follow the well-marked access trail 0.2 miles north to the Pleasant River. The Appalachian Trail comes in at this point from the left. Cross the Pleasant River. Continue 0.2 miles north on the AT to its junction with the Pleasant River tote road. Follow the tote road/Appalachian Trail left (west). The first portion of this hike passes through The Hermitage, a 35 acre old growth white pine forest owned by the Nature Conservancy. 1.1 miles from the junction, the trail reaches Gulf Hagas Brook. At this point, the AT turns off the tote road and follows the brook upstream. The tote road crosses the brook as described above.
From Hay Brook Parking Area: Follow the tote road from the parking area past several large boulders to Hay Brook. Cross Hay Brook (easier than the Pleasant River). Continue west on the tote road. At 0.7 miles, the Appalachian Trail will enter from your left. Follow the tote road/AT 1.1 miles to Gulf Hagas Brook.
Click on map to enlarge.
Photos: ©Bob Hamer