Hot Spring Highlight: Bagby Hot Springs Oregon
Here is the WinterReview highlight of Bagby Hot Springs, somewhere between Salem and Portland, OR. Bagby Hot Springs are located on the Mount Hood National Forest in the Clackamas River Ranger District. There are 3 major springs and several minor outlets on this secluded tributary to the Clackamas River.
After the 1.5 mile hike through old growth forest you’ll stare up at the towering firs while soaking in one of 5 private tubs or sharing the view in one of the community tubs. This is not a resort hot springs. Hand hewn tubs and cedar plumbing built and maintained by the Forest Service and various volunteer groups over the years make Bagby a one of a kind hot springs experience.
The History of Bagby Hot Springs
According to the USFS, which manages Bagby, the hot springs were “discovered” in 1880 by a hunter and prospector named Bob Bagby. We’re pretty sure Bob didn’t discover the place, he just stumbled upon a site that is rumored to have been visited by Native Americans for hundreds of years.
The Forest Service built a guard station at the springs in 1913. Over the years the cabin has been home to a switchboard and fire crews. While the switchboard and fire crews are no longer needed, the cabin stands to this day and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In the 1920’s the original bath house was built, but burned down in 1979. Since then 3 bath houses have been built and are known as the Private Deck, Public Deck and Upper Deck.
Today the Bagby Hot Springs are managed by the Clackamas River Ranger District. Several groups of users can be found on Facebook to share knowledge and organize volunteer work.
Best Time To Visit Bagby Hot Springs
Well, that’s an easy one … Winter! Bagby Hot Springs is open year round. However, the Forest Service states that the roads are not plowed during the Winter season and the Springs are occasionally closed due to snow. Sounds great to us. We have found reports online of the road being impassable but most cases report the need for all wheel drive or traction of some kind. As you can see from this picture of the road into Bagby, you could end up in trouble if you aren’t prepared for the conditions.
Many online reports are of the hot springs being overcrowded and even wait times to get a soak. This is another great reason to wait for the snowfall, strap some traction on your feet and visit Bagby Hot Springs when other users are staying home.
Clothing At Bagby Hot Springs
As with any public place, public nudity is not allowed. The Forest Service has taken different stances on this over the years. According to the Forest Service website: “public nudity is not allowed in open areas”. There are private stalls in the main bath house, strip down and soak away. There are communal tubs on both of the other decks and users should use good judgement. Family trips are not uncommon so be polite and have a towel handy.
As with any recreation experience, being mindful and respectful of other users is more important than interpretation of rules.
Lodging and Camping At Bagby Hot Springs
There are no lodging facilities and camping is not permitted at Bagby Hot Springs. Established camp sites can be found at Bagby Trailhead or head past the springs for primitive camping at Shower Creek. Check with the Forest Service to find other campgrounds and dispersed camping on the way in.
If it’s lodging you’re looking for you should make it a day trip from Portland or check out nearby Breitenbush Hot Springs. Bagby is for those that don’t need a feather bed and posh amenities.
How To Get To Bagby Hot Springs
Find your way to Portland, OR. From there, hop on the 224 and head Southeast towards Estacada. Keep on rollin’ through Estacada for 26 miles and just past the Ripplebrook Gaurd Station stay on Road 46. After 4 miles get yourself right onto Road 63, 4 more miles to Road 70 and right again. You’ll go 6 miles down Road 70 to the Bagby Trailhead.
Once you’ve finished your relaxing Winter soak at Bagby Hot Springs please leave the place better than you found it.
Clackamas River Ranger District: 503 630 6861
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