Just a little over an hour outside Portland, Bagby Trail takes you through a spectacular old growth forest to the Bagby Hot Springs. You will walk beneath hemlock, fir, and cedar trees upon a busy and well-maintained trail that follows the the Hot Springs Fork south. At the end of the hike awaits the Bagby Hot Springs, where water naturally erupts out of two springs in the ground at 126 degrees. Bathers should expect to soak themselves in one of three constructed bathhouses that are rustic and charming, but extremely popular with Portlanders and vacationers alike. You can continue the hike and see the stunning Shower Creek Falls by walking past the bathhouses and connecting with the Silver King Lake Hike, or you can turn around and return to your car.
To get to the Bagby Trail from Portland, you will take 224 out of the city and into the Mount Hood National Forest. You can buy your pass in Ripplebrook for $5 before you arrive at the trail, or you can purchase beforehand online. When you arrive at the trailhead, you need to find a parking spot in the lot, which gets full early and often as this is such a popular location.
From the parking lot, you will head south across a footbridge which rises up over the beautiful Nohorn Creek. You will then enter into an old growth forest full of tall and magnificent Douglas firs, hemlock, and red cedars. The trail, which is smooth and well-maintained, follows the sparkling Hot Springs Fork south through the woods. Before you know it, you will reach another bridge that crosses over the Hot Springs Fork, and then another that crosses Peggy Creek. Just after these two crossings, you will arrive at the bathhouses and spy the hot spring which feeds them.
There are three bathhouses currently in operation. The main bathhouse has five private rooms that seat two people comfortably. The lower bathhouse has three small log tubs and a large round tub that seats six to eight people in an open deck area. And the upper bathhouse is located on a deck about a hundred yards up the trail away from the other bathhouses and allows about eight people to enjoy the hot water together. Nudity is allowed on decks and in the tubs, but not outside of these areas, and alcohol is prohibited.
A Guard Cabin and a Guard Station rest on either sides of the path, and if you continue further you will reach a campsite and Shower Creek Falls before connecting with Silver King Lake Trail. If you do not wish to continue along, you can turn around and follow the Bagby Trail back to your car in the parking lot.
Bagby Hot Springs were originally used by Native Americans in the area for centuries before colonization. The water was thought to purify the soakers, and the sacredness of the site was such that weapons were not allowed near the springs.
The springs are named after Bob Bagby, a hunter and prospector who claimed the space in the late 1800's. The guard station was built in 1913 and was used during the summer fire seasons.
The first bathhouse was built in the 1920's by the Forest Service. In 1979, the bathhouse also burnt down. Both structures were later rebuilt and now the area is managed by the Oregon Forest Service.