A Romantic Getaway to Bagby Hot Springs
Bagby Hot Springs in Mt. Hood National Forest is one of those places that we’ve been meaning to go to for as long we’ve both known about these hot springs, but hadn’t until recently. In an effort to spend 2014 seeing and visiting all the places we’ve always meant to go to in the Pacific Northwest, we set off on a winter’s day to visit Bagby Hot Springs.
Get There Early
We headed out early to Bagby in hopes that the hot springs wouldn’t be too crowded and we’d have no problem getting one of the private rooms. It was clear and cold with ice on the ground, a sign we took as meaning less people would be at the hot springs.
When you arrive at Bagby, there is a parking lot with an attendant. The hot springs have been taken over by a private company that specializes in management of hot springs in state and national parks. With this new management, there are now on-site employees to collect fees and keep the peace for all to enjoy Bagby.
When we arrived at 9:30am, there was only a few other vehicles and no parking lot attendant. How many cars are in the parking lot will give you an idea of how many others got there before you. Since the attendant wasn’t there yet, we used the drop box they have set up to be able to pay our fee of $5 per person. Make sure to bring exact change and a pen for the payment envelope.
Hike to the Hot Springs
From the parking area, it’s 1.5 miles to the hot springs. The well-worn trail and stunning scenery make for an easy hike through the forest along the Collawash River. Except for one other couple, we never saw anyone else on the trail.
Bath Houses at Bagby Hot Springs
When we arrived at the site we found three bath houses. The main bathhouse had five semi-private rooms with cedar log tubs. The lower bathhouse had four round tubs on an open deck. The upper bathhouse was about 100 yards away from the other two bathhouses with one large tub on an open deck and a stunning view of the forest.
Drew grabbed us one of the cedar tubs in a private room. Since we arrived so early, there was no wait for the tubs. Drew gave our log tub a rinse before starting to fill it while I got our belongings situated.
How to Fill Your Tub
Filling the log tubs is quite easy- Simply pull the handmade wood plug from the top of the tub and let the water from the hot springs delivered through an open-air system take care of the rest. Before doing this, be sure to put the other wood plug in the drain to keep the water in your tub.
Be careful as the water comes out around 136 degrees and is much too hot to get into without adding some cold water to cool it down. There is a natural cold spring on the deck near the other tubs for you to fill up provided plastic buckets to add to your tub. We added 4 buckets of cold water to our tub to make it cook enough to get into.
Once the tub was ready, we stripped down to our bathing suits we had under our clothes and slipped into the hot water. Nudity is not allowed at Bagby and bathing suits are required. Having your bathing suit already on under your clothes will make it a lot easier for you.
Private Tubs at Bagby Hot Springs
The hand-carved cedar log tubs are long, wide, and comfortably fit both of us. We were both able to lay back, stretch out, and relax. It was refreshing to have the cool air from the open roof keep us from getting too hot.
About an hour later, a line stated forming outside the bath house deck that made us happy we had arrived early to be able to walk right in to one of the private rooms. We gave it half an hour more and then decided to pack up to let someone else have a chance in the hot springs. We drained our tub, gave it a rinse with a bucket of cold water, and got dressed.
Our hike back down was as beautiful as going up. This time we passed many hikers on their way up to the hot springs. This made us happy we arrived early and avoided the crowds and wait.
Dogs at Bagby Hot Springs
Dogs on leashes are allowed at the hot springs. We brought our own dog with us and she lay on the bench in our room while we soaked in the tub. Many others brought their dogs up, as well.
A Romantic Getaway
Bagby Hot Springs are a romantic getaway for the day. They are a perfect and economical way to celebrate Valentine’s Day, a birthday, or any other celebration. Pack some candles to place around one of the private tubs and add some natural bath salts to the water for a special treat. Pack up a picnic to enjoy before or after your time in the tubs together.
Bagby Hot Springs Tips
- Arrive early to get a private tub and to not have to wait in line.
- The cost is $5 per person. Bring exact change with you.
- Bagby is open 24 hours per day. However, there are no lights along the trail or in the bathhouses.
- Camping is not allowed at the hot springs.
- Alcohol is not permitted.
- Bring a swimsuit. Nudity is not permitted.
- Dogs are allowed, but must remain leashed at all times.
- Forest Service Roads to Bagby are well maintained, but are not plowed for snow during the winter.
- Do not leave any valuables in your vehicle.
Bagby Hot Spring’s Bad Reputation
In the past, Bagby has had a pretty bad reputation. Big parties happen there at night different times of the year and like any place, sometimes, not the best people choose to hang out there. Thanks to the company now managing the hot springs and the on-site attendant it has greatly improved the company kept at Bagby.
Have you ever visited Bagby Hot Springs?
All photography by Kimmy Hayes © 2014.