OREGON

Bagby Hot Springs & Shower Creek

Mt. Hood National Forest

2011 Bagby Hot Springs

Two-person hot tubs at Bagby Hot Springs.

Bagby Hot Springs, natural volcanic springs in an exquisite forest setting of towering firs, are accessible via a short 3-mile round-trip hike along an enchanting trail in Mount Hood National Forest.

Located approximately 40 miles southeast of Estacada outside Portland, the drive takes about two hours from Portland city center.

Bagby is one of the crown jewels of Oregon recreation. Hewn cedar tubs and dugouts are available for bathing individually or in small groups. (Nudity is permitted in the private bathhouses but folks are expected to be respectful of others.)

The main bathhouse contains a new six-person hot tub; on the same platform there are three two-person tubs. A little further up the hill are private bathhouses with two-person dugouts. The upper tub at the top of the Springs complex works for six people and has been completely updated.

There are two campsites: one at the trailhead and another at Shower Creek, which is about a quarter-mile past the Hot Springs. Altogether, there are about 10-12 campsites. There are toilets, water, and fire rings at each location.

As of 2012, Bagby has been under private management. Before, volunteers had maintained the Springs, but there was parking lot vandalism, trash, and other problems. There is now a regular staffer in the parking lot collecting the "soaking" fee. The one we met is a nice guy and provides important security. However, the management company needs provide scheduled maintenance and repairs as well as having someone live up at the cabin to provide more oversight 24/7. Management really needs to step up and do what they signed up to do with as much attention paid to ongoing site maintenance and improvement as fee collection.

Bagby is a jewel in the middle of the wilderness and people destroy it for no good reason. They don't treat it like the gem it is. Do what you can to clean up after yourself and observe the rules of this unique site. It's good karma.

  • Details
  • Getting There
  • Trail Map
  • Winter Info

Permits & Passes: $5 day per person soaking fee.

Distance: From the trailhead, it's a 3-mile round trip to the Hot Springs. Camping at Shower Creek is a quarter mile further down the trail from the Springs.

Elevation gain: 190 ft.

Level of difficulty: Easy

Season: Year around if you have high clearance 4WD with chains. In the winter you are entering at your own risk. Contact the the Ranger Station in Estacada to see if there is fire danger during the summer months and if the roads are passable in the winter months.

From Portland, take Hwy 224 to Estacada and into Mt. Hood National Forest. Turn right on FR 46 a half mile past the Ripplebrook Guard Station, then 3.5 miles farther turn right on FR 63. Make another right on FR 70 and continue six more miles to the trailhead.

Note! Vandalism has been a problem, but the Springs are under private management and there seems to be some improvement. Nevertheless, lock your vehicle and either take your stuff with you or hide it where it can't be seen.

Bagby Hot Springs map

Disclaimer: The trail map shown here is for information only. Print the State of Oregon brochure for more information.

Rocks in the orad

Contraction and expansion breaks
off rocks ... a major road hazard
when camouflaged by snow!

Broken tree branches

Tree branches also pose a hazard.

At an elevation of 2300 ft, Bagby has its own microclimates. Expect extreme variability in temperature and road conditions that can change from hour to hour. It's possible to drive in on slush and leave on hardpacked ice.

If you have a 4WD vehicle with high clearance and snow tires, you should be able to navigate reasonably well. However, there are too many boneheads who think they can manage without snow tires, chains, and just front-wheel drive. They invariably cause headaches for prepared drivers. Every single winter trip we've made this season has been punctuated by the shenanigans of at least one of these yahoos. Be forewarned!

It is essential to carry a 48-hour emergency survival kit!

The road conditions are often challenging. Because the road isn't maintained in and out of the springs, it's often reduced to a single track. Depending on your vehicle, winter driving experience, and road surface you can easily go off the road. After spending time in the springs, you'll be relaxed and tired after the walk out. Be especially vigilant driving out.

Images

Related links

Forest Service info about Bagby Hot Springs— Everything you need to know regarding site rules and even the chemical composition of the water.