Impromptu Adventure at Bagby Hot Springs
While it is possible to get in over one’s head when traveling adventures are insufficiently mapped out, it’s also the case that spontaneity can lead to sweet roads less traveled. A recent impromptu adventure found me with friends at Bagby Hot Springs. I was thoroughly delighted and unprepared for what a beautifully maintained, rustic gem we discovered.
Mike Rysavy of Northwest Forest Conservancy is justly proud of everything his group has accomplished during their tenure rehabilitating Bagby. His suggestions for a visit to the Springs are classic stewardship mantras: “Enjoy yourself. Lead by example. Leave things better than you find them.”
The lower bathhouse features three rectangular cedar tubs in addition to a large round tub on an open deck. The adjacent newer bathhouse includes five impressive cedar “baths,” all constructed from huge, hollowed out logs. Each of these is enclosed in a private room. Clothing is optional at Bagby, so those individual rooms are handy for the more modest among us.
Cooler weather and fewer bathers make this a great time of year to take the fall/winter plunge. Be sure to purchase the necessary $5 Forest Service Trail Park Pass, available at any Joe’s Sports or Forest Ranger Station. Take your flashlight, drinking water, and change of warm clothes with you on your hike in. It’s dark in there after sundown and you want to be toasty warm on your trip back to civilization.
Get outfitted now for spontaneous adventure this season. Are your wheels road-worthy? Carry extra water, flashlight, fresh batteries and space blanket in your vehicle. Chains are a “must” now that we are driving towards winter. Bagby rests at an elevation of 2,280, and there are many years where the road past Highway 224 is closed due to snow only one or two weeks out of every 365 days. In a record-breaking snow year like last; however, it was a different story. Call ahead for trail information and road conditions. The Estacada Ranger Station’s phone number is 503-630-6861.
The nearby community of Estacada is home to Fearless Brewing Company if you yearn for a pint on the ride home. The Estacada downtown beckons with sidewalk shops and an art gallery that allows you to wash away any pent up yen to spend. A stroll through this little town only adds to the deep sense of “place” you find throughout Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory.
From the wide and well-marked 1.5 miles hike into Bagby Hot Springs, to the gorgeous deep cedar tubs, to the wildness of the forest and its distinctive scents and sounds, Bagby Hot Springs is a special experience. I’ll be investing time with the other 80 volunteers who meet the 3rd weekend of every month to make sure things just keep getting better in this neck of the woods. Hope to see you there!
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