Screw Auger Falls #2
Overview: Nice waterfall in Central Maine. Location: Near Gulf Hagas in the Ki Jo-Mary multiple use forest. Stream : Gulf Hagas Brook Height : Three drops. Middle one is the largest at about 15 feet. Finding : A bit tricky. Use good maps. Access : Requires moderate hike and a stream fording. Difficult in high water. Swimming: Some possibilities. Basking : Fair. Privacy : Remote location, but a popular spot. Not crowded, but you won't be alone. Legal : Public access. Fee required: $7.00 for me in 1997.
There is another Screw Auger Falls in Maine. It is in Grafton Notch State Park.
From Milo, Maine
Starting at the center of Milo at the junctions of routes 6, 16, and 11 (0.0mi/0.0km), drive north on route 11 toward Brownville. At 12.9mi/20.6km turn west onto the road to Katahdin Iron Works. This turn is marked, but the road is a minor road so watch for it. The road to the iron works is dirt, but it is of good quality. At 19.6mi/31.1km you will come to the old iron works. There you will have to stop and register before you can enter the Ki Jo-Mary multiple use forest. The attendent can give you up to date information on road and trail conditions. Maps of the area are also available there. When you return you will have to check out.
After registering, continuing driving along the road to the parking area at 26.3mi/42.0km. This parking area is on the north side of the road and it is marked. The blue blazed trail leaves from the back of the parking area.
In a short distance, the trail connects to the Appalachian Trail. Almost immediately after that point, it crosses the Pleasant River. There is no bridge; wading is necessary. In low water, wading across the Pleasant River is easy enough (watch your step, the rocks are slippery). In high water it is impossible. There is another approach to the falls that involves more driving, more walking, and a smaller stream crossing. It may be possible to use that approach during high water conditions. Ask the attendant at the Katahdin Iron Works.
Once on the other side of the river, the trail (now the Appalachian Trail) climbs gradually alongside the river, following it upstream. The walking is not too difficult, although the ground is rough. After about 1.5 miles the Appalachian Trail turns north (right) and trail you are interested in goes straight ahead. Soon it crosses Gulf Hagas Brook.
Turn left (downstream) and follow the brook toward Gulf Hagas. You will be following the Rim Trail. Screw Auger Falls is about halfway from the brook crossing to the Gulf. The distance from the brook crossing is not far. Before you reach the main part of Screw Auger Falls, you will go by an interesting lesser waterfall. Below the main part of the Screw Auger Falls, there is also another small drop that is worth investigating.
Gulf Hagas, and the area immediately around it, is a waterfall enthusiast's paradise. Inside the gulf itself there are no less than five named waterfalls. That is in addition to Screw Auger Falls just before the gulf. The entire hike along the rim of the gulf and back again is quite significant and should not be attempted without a full day to spend and proper preperations. This description only covers the more easily accessible Screw Auger Falls.
Gulf Hagas Brook tumbles down a steep slope on its way to the Pleasant River. On its way it forms several interesting cascades. It is not always easy to approach the brook from the Rim Trail. The terrain is rugged. However, there are three interesting drops that can be seen.
The first drop is only a short distance from the stream crossing I mentioned in the directions. The brook divides into two flows and both arch out gracefully over a rock face to splash into a pool at the bottom. The pool is nestled in a crevase in such a way as to give the spot a hidden, secluded feeling. Approaching these falls is tricky and the scramble down to the water's edge should only be attempted with great care. Quite a few years ago, however, I once did go swimming in the pool below these unnamed falls.
The main part of Screw Auger Falls is a bit farther down the trail. There a short side trail leads out onto a high, narrow outcropping of tree covered rock. From there it is a fairly easy scramble down into a large, open bowl into which the falls flows. At the north end of the bowl, the falls drops impressively into a big pool. The stream then flows across the bottom of the bowl, through a narrow channel, and then on toward the Pleasant River.
It is easy to walk around among the broken rocks that are strewn about below the falls. The spot is fairly open to the sky and bright. In fact, it almost looks a little messy.
Farther down the trail there is another short side trail that approaches the brook. There the water flows over some low cascades that are covered over by the thick forest. This last drop is the lowest and least interesting of the drop. However, it is also the friendliest and in some ways the best for just sitting by the water. In addition, the swimming would probably be the best at these falls. One pool even had a bit of a gravel beach.
Today the weather was spitting rain when I left to parking area to go to the falls. Although the rain held off for most of my trip, it did start to come down pretty well by the time I returned to my car. I took pictures of the two upper falls today, but not of the lower falls.
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