For the last couple of years I have been intrigued about the hot springs in the Mt. Hood area, but for one reason or another I have never gone. First of all, hot springs are really not Lee’s thing, and since I never felt comfortable going alone, I just never went. Why didn’t I feel comfortable? Well, public nudity is definitely a thing here in Oregon, and although I don’t have anything against the idea personally I am not sure I would want to walk alone to a situation that involved it. Also I had heard that these places attract drugs, and again, not a place I want to be alone.
This year I stopped at the Ripplebrook Store to get some ice cream and saw a sign stating that the forest service had closed Bagby for remodeling and it had just reopened. This was interesting to me, because I thought it wouldn’t have had time to get trashed and I decided I was going to go whether or not Lee wanted to. Since the weather had been terrible for several weeks, he wanted to get out and said he was willing to take the hike with me, although he wouldn’t be getting into the hot springs. I wasn’t sure I wanted to either, but grabbed my bathing suit just in case and we took Jack and headed that way.
All I had to get me there was a pretty terrible Forest Service map and although it was a pretty ride, the roads were not very well marked. At the very end of the drive we had to turn on Forest Road 70 and the only markings were spray painted words on the pavement. Since there is no cell signal anywhere close to the springs, I highly recommend fixing it in your GPS in advance and carrying a paper map with you. We are pretty good at navigating and we had to pay close attention to not get lost. Also make sure you have a full tank of gas, flashlight, food and water, and a good spare tire. These mountain roads are not heavily traveled and you need to be able to support yourself if something happens.
It was confusing when we arrived as to where to park, but we pulled in when we saw the Bagby Campground sign. There is a large Day Use parking area with pit toilets and a pay kiosk. You don’t have to pay to park and hike but you do need to pay $5 a person if you want to soak. We went ahead and paid $5 and then started up the trail.
The hike to Bagby was 1.5 miles each way, and I have to say one of the best hikes we have been on in the Mount Hood area. The trail was extremely well maintained, only moderately difficult with slight elevation changes, through beautiful mature forest, and had great bridges along the way. Jack had a fantastic time!
The springs themselves were a bit anti-climatic although we did find them historically interesting. They were discovered in 1880 by an early hunter and prospector named Bob Bagby. In 1913, Phil Putz, a Forest Service guard, built a cabin that is still present today. A small fire crew stayed there during the summer months who built a barn, dam, shelters, and bathhouse in the 1920’s. All of these facilities have disappeared, but the Friends of Bagby volunteers built the current bathing facilities at the hot springs over several years, but due to lack of maintenance they fell into disrepair. That’s why I was so glad the Forest service was trying to complete some work on it.
After deciding not to take a soak we walked down and went back to this cool waterfall and pool that was close by. No one was there and I said I would love to take a dip in that. Lee went over and found a path down, with a handy rope, and next thing I knew we had this beautiful area all to ourselves. The water was too cold to jump in, but not too cold for some feet soaking.
So even if you don’t care about the springs the hike was great. Plus you might get lucky and be there when there aren’t any crowds. We were there on July 4th and it wasn’t that crowded considering. Either way it was really great to get out and we all needed the exercise.
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