Bagby Hot Springs
Location: near Portland, OR
Difficulty: Super Easy
Length: 1.7 miles one way
Bagby Hot Springs is one of the finest hot springs I have been to. If star-ratings are based on how spectacular a place is vs how much work it is to get there, Bagby earns 5/5. If they’re based on piece of mind and a wilderness experience, Bagby falls flat.
Several gorgeous wooden tubs, all with adjustable temperatures, await the intrepid traveler just a mile and a half up a perfectly maintained gravel pathway. The mellow hike follows the Hot Springs Fork of the Collawash River through the lush Mt. Hood National Forest, crossing Peggy Creek along the way.
The water is non-sulfurous and plenty hot, even for thermophiles like me. Some of the tubs are even walled off from the trail to provide a bit of privacy for skinny-soakers. All of this for just a two hour drive from Portland, OR on a paved road. But beware, as of late the spring’s picturesque location comes with a Kafkaesque reputation: Portland locals know the spot as a nature retreat for substance abusing ne’er-do-wells. Upstanding locals hope that the new, 24-hour management will curb the break-ins and the open drug and alcohol use, but sparkling cubes of safety glass in the parking lot and bottle caps strewn about the grounds flesh out a different reality – that the $5 admission fee might just be bringing in goldbars with more expensive tastes.
I camped in sight of the beautiful Shower Falls, half a mile passed the hot spring, at one of several nice sites nestled amongst tower pines along the river. I had no company on a Tuesday, and no trouble.