This is a bonus hike for my Best Easy Day Hikes Greenville. It's one of the few hikes that is actually easy.
This easy hike follows Henderson Brook from where it drops out of a boggy valley and races through a narrow canyon. The trail criss-crosses the stream as it flows against one then the other side of the canyon. You can follow the trail all the way out to the KI Road or hike as far as the last stream crossing and return the way you came.
Start: From the Henderson Brook Trailhead, between the parking area and the bridge over Henderson Brook.
Distance: 1.8 miles out and back or 1.1 miles shuttle.
Approximate hiking time: 1 to 2 hours.
Seasons: May to October are best.
Trail surface: Woodland Path.
Land Status: AMC Recreation and Conservation Area and Appalachian Trail.
Nearest Town: Greenville.
Other users: Hunting is permitted in season.
Water availability: Henderson Brook.
Canine compatibility: Dogs must be under control at all times.
Fees and permits: Fee paid at the Hedgehog Gate on the KI Road.
Maps: Delorme's The Maine Atlas and Gazetteer map 41; USGS Barren Mountain East.
Trail Contact: Appalachian Mountain Club, Greenville office, 695-3085, http://www.outdoors.org.
Finding the trailhead: From the blinking light in Greenville. Drive north on Lily Bay Road. Almost immediately turn right onto Pleasant Street. Drive 12.3 miles to the Hedgehog Gate. After paying your fee continue another 1.7 miles to a T-intersection. Turn right, staying on the KI Road toward AMC Gorman Lodge. Drive 3.4 miles. Turn right onto Third Mountain Road at the sign for Gorman Lodge. Drive 0.8 miles. The trailhead parking is on the left just before the trail and 0.1 miles before the bridge over Henderson Brook. Trailhead GPS: N45° 28.052' W69° 18.644'.
Henderson Brook flows under Third Mountain Road just beyond the trailhead. Upstream from bridge, the stream meanders through a boggy meadow between dark walls of spruce. Below the bridge the stream turns back on itself, looking more like a weedy pond than moving water. But as you discover once on the trail, it is moving. Henderson Brook looks like a pond because it's backed up behind a ridge of bedrock. It tumbles over the rock in a small waterfall just into the trees.
The trail follows Henderson Brook as it descends through a narrow canyon. You cross and recross the trail. The steep sides are mossy cliffs in places and broken slopes too steep for trees in others. The floor of the canyon is littered with boulders of every size.
Geologically, Henderson Brook's little canyon is related to nearby Gulf Hagas. The difference is mostly in scale. Where Gulf Hagas is awe-inspiring, something one can only speak of in superlatives, this hike traverses a landscape that is accessible. The eye picks out a moss-draped cliff that seems to droop into the stream, a house-sized boulder perched beside the water that looks like you could push it over, a patch of ferns huddled against the slope where water seeps from the rock.
After the second stream crossing, the trail climbs away from Henderson Brook to an old roadbed. If you're doing an out and back hike, this is a good place to turn around. If you're continuing on to the KI Road, follow the roadbed back down to Henderson Brook. You have to find a place to cross—which can be a challenge, especially during high water. Across the stream, it's a short hike to the AT and out to the road.
Miles and Directions:
0.0 Start from the Henderson Brook Trailhead on the east side of Third Mountain Road between the parking area and the bridge over Henderson Brook.
0.9 The trail follows the stream, crossing twice, to an unaided crossing that may be impossible during high water. If you are hiking the trail as an out and back. Return the way you came to the trailhead, arriving back at the trailhead in 1.8 miles.
1.0 The Henderson Brook Trail ends at the AT. Turn left onto the AT.
1.1 Arrive at the KI Road.