Bagby Hot Springs

It's always the right season for a pilgrimage to Oregon's rustic natural spa, tucked in the woods of the Cascade Range.

By Rachel Ritchie February 26, 2014 Published in the March 2014 issue of Portland Monthly

WHY IT’S GREAT: Here in the Northwest, we’re used to things being green. We prefer our forests fecund; we expect our logs mossy. Even so, the pilgrimage to Bagby Hot Springs, tucked among the towering firs of the Cascade Range’s western edge, feels shockingly lush.

Discovered in 1880 by Amity prospector Robert W. Bagby, the site sits at the mouth of three underground springs that gush about 43 gallons of hot mineral water each minute. A retreat that began as a simple log cabin in 1913 has now grown into a rustic cluster of three partially covered bathhouses holding hand-hewn tubs fed by cedar plumbing. For a quintessentially Oregonian thrill, take your time on the scenic 1.5-mile stroll in, find an ideal spot in a hollowed-out log tub, and marvel at the dense, lichen-draped branches hovering above.

DON’T FORGET: First and foremost, be aware that clothing is optional in bathhouse 2—so don’t be surprised by hikers in the buff. With all the mineral water splashing about, it’s a good idea to bring an extra pair of dry socks and a towel. And if your visit might extend past nightfall, be sure to pack some candles.

Getting there: From Estacada, follow Highway 224 for 26 miles. Soon after the Ripplebrook Ranger Station, turn right and follow Forest Road 46 for 3.6 miles, then turn right again on FR 63. After 3.5 miles, turn right on FR 70, and after 6 more miles you’ll reach the trailhead parking lot on your left. $5/person soaking fee required at trailhead (Northwest Forest Pass no longer required for parking)


Check out our (fully clothed) gallery of Bagby photos for a glimpse of the journey!

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