Umpqua Hot Springs

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Overview

Trail Features

Dogs
Allowed
Fees
Yes
Kids
Allowed
Route
Out and Back
Users
Multi-use
Length
0.6
Parking
Yes
Surface
Dirt and Rock
Bathrooms
Yes
Elevation
206 ft. gain
Difficulty
Intermediate
Trail hours
Sunrise - Sunset
Parking hours
Sunrise - Sunset
Water fountains
None
Vending machines
None

Umpqua Hot Springs Trail is located about two hours north of Crater Lake in the Umpqua National Forest. This heavily-trafficked, moderate 0.6 mile out-and-back trail leads to the absolutely stunning Umpqua Hot Springs, perched on cliffs overlooking the Umpqua River. Please note the signage at the trailhead that indicates Umpqua Hot Springs are clothing-optional and prepare to encounter nude bathers at the pools.

The trail and springs are day-use only, from sunrise to sunset, and there is a $5 parking fee at the trailhead. The springs are very popular, so if you prefer solitude, prepare to come early in the morning on a weekday—and even then, it is quite possible to encounter others on the trail and at the springs. The springs themselves feature nine geothermal pools offering different temperatures from lukewarm to hot, including a central pool that is covered by a wooden shelter. From the pools, you can view Surprise Falls across the river.

The trail itself has an elevation gain of 206 feet and climbs steeply uphill to the springs. There are railings in some sections, which can be quite slippery (flip-flops not recommended!). Dogs are allowed on-leash.

The road to the trailhead is filled with potholes, so be alert and drive carefully. The trail is open year-round but the Forest Service access road is not plowed during the off-season. You can hike in two miles through snow to reach the trailhead under such conditions. The nearby Toketee Falls are just three miles away and worth visiting while you’re in the area!

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Description

While the hike at Umpqua Hot Springs is short and relatively straightforward, reaching the trailhead can be a bit of a fiasco, as the Forest Road leading to the Day Use area and parking lot is scattered with potholes. Drive slowly and carefully, especially in the last 2 miles before the trailhead!

From Roseburg, take OR-138 East until you reach mile post 59, where you will turn left onto Forest Road 34. After descending the hill, you will turn left again and cross a concrete bridge. You will now travel 2.2 miles on the rugged road until you reach Forest Road 3401. Here, you will turn right and follow this road for 0.7 mile, where you will see the parking lot and Day Use area on your left. In winter, the Forest Road is closed in times of snow and ice, but you can park alongside the road and hike in the remaining 2 miles from the gate to reach the trailhead, which remains open all year long.

The parking lot and Day Use area charges $5 per vehicle per day. This site once allowed for overnight camping but in 2016, the U.S. Forest Service banned it due to an excess of litter, human waste, violation of campfire bans, and criminal activity. The area still attracts a number of questionable individuals despite the camping ban and there is often a lack of enforcement due to the site’s remoteness, so it is recommended that you ensure your car doors are locked and your belongings secure during your hike to the springs.

Again, be prepared to encounter nude bathers at the springs, which are clothing-optional. You will see signs at the trailhead reiterating this point. Children and leashed dogs are allowed on the trail and at the springs. This is a very popular spot and the trail is heavily trafficked. If you prefer solitude, your best bet is to come on a weekday and early in the morning. There are vault toilets located at the trailhead and one is located at the springs themselves.

Once you have parked, you will find the trailhead marked by a small sign on a tree. Upon setting out, you will immediately cross a wooden bridge and then begin a steep ascent that climbs relentlessly upward for the entire 0.3-mile, 10-15 minute hike. This is a steep scramble, and there are handrails in certain rough spots along the way. Be wary of slipping, and wear proper shoes!

As you reach the summit, you will see the roof of the wooden shelter over the main pool, and looking out from this 150-foot-high mineral deposit on the rushing Umpqua River, you will see several more limestone pools both above and below the main pool. The pools higher on the hillside are the warmest and they become cooler lower down. You’ll see Surprise Falls across the river and you may find yourself completely breathless—both from the stunning beauty of this lookout and from the scramble up!

A soak in the springs will soothe any muscle pains from the steep ascent and leave you refreshed for the much easier, all-downhill return trip. Please respect this natural marvel and pack out what you pack in!

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History

The Cascade Mountains in the Umpqua National Forest were formed by explosive geological events and are a part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is associated with volcanic belts, volcanic arcs, and plate movements.

The word “Umpqua” translates roughly to “thundering waters.” Prior to Western exploration, at least four native groups of Umpqua people lived along the river, including the Kuitsh, Etnemitane, Molalla, and Cow Creek Band. Fur traders from Hudson’s Bay Company were the first non-natives to explore the area in the early 1800s. In 1828, Jedediah Smith led a party of trappers into the area and his camp was attacked by the Umpqua, leading to a massacre that ended with 15 members of his party being slaughtered. Smith, having been advised of the attack, observed the massacre from an overlooking hillside.

In July of 1907, the Umpqua National Forest was established by Congress, and in 1925, logging and mining began in the area. In the 1930s, as a result of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, the Civilian Conservation Corps was founded and built roads, recreation areas, and bridges in the forest.

In 2016, overnight camping at the Umpqua Hot Springs was banned by the U.S. Forest Service as a result of litter, human waste, and violations of campfire bans. Please respect this area and pack out what you bring in!

Sources

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