Wood fixtures direct the flow at the Bagby Hot Springs.
Cool and foggy though it may be on the surface, Mount Hood National Forest reveals a steamy underworld—geologically speaking—at the thermal Bagby Hot Springs near Estacada, Ore., southeast of Portland.
From the parking area, a gentle 1.5-mile trail through ferns and old-growth Douglas fir follows the Hot Springs Fork of the Collawash River to three rustic, clothing-optional bathhouses with half roofs. Two cedar-plank barrels accommodate groups, while tubs hand-hollowed from cedar logs, a few in private stalls, fit individuals. In some, visitors can adjust the 136˚F bathing temperature with an ingenious pulley-and-flume system carrying cold water from a nearby spring.
Plan for a weekday if you’re in search of the forest’s primeval calm, as weekends can get busy. Take Highway 224 to Forest Road 46, then go right at Forest Road 63 and right again at Forest Road 70. (503) 668-1700, www.fs.fed.us/r6/mthood (see “Recreational Activities”).
Photography by Wave Royalty Free/Almany
This article was first published in September 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.