The Hot Waterfall-Fed Pools of Goldbug Hot Springs in Idaho


See the 'V'? That's where the soak is

A chain of waterfall-fed pools await at the end of a grueling 3 mile hike on a shade deprived trail. During hot temps this hike is rough - bring plenty of water or a water filter. There is a bio-toilet about 1.5 to 2 miles in, near one of the shaded primitive sites. The last .5 miles in to the springs are the steepest of the entire route. While most of the path is through a desert landscape filled with sagebrush there are brief cool areas of relief near the creek among the junipers. Goldbug is well-known, and is used by many different types of soakers.

Getting closer... see the 'V' now?

The fairly difficult hike does little to deter the crowds. However, this hot springs is well cared for. The norm here is to pick up your trash and leave as little trace as possible. I'm always happy when I encounter a hot springs where the majority are stewards. Expect a mostly non-swimsuit wearing crowd (signed as clothing optional area) that are polite and friendly. Watch for snakes during the warmer months, this area has many rattlesnakes and other kinds of snakes - the elevation and temperatures are just right.

Almost there...

During the core of spring runoff you might be hard pressed to find a soaking pool that is warm enough... usually there's one - you just might have to search around a bit. The rest of the time is quite a different story... depending on the creek flow there can be anywhere between 2 to 10 soakable pools on each side of the creek. Accessible all year.

The 1st pool before bridge 4

The 1st quarter mile of the hike in is on private property, and there are no camping sites at or near the trailhead aside from a BLM recreation site a few miles down the highway. Between 1 and 2 miles in, there are a couple primitive campsites nestled in the junipers near the creek just off the trail that provide ample seclusion and shade. There are also stepped camping sites above the hot springs near the 4th bridge on the north and south sides of the creek. The stepped plots are fairly small, and would accommodate 2-person tents. They are all fairly close together, so don't bother unless you don't mind close company - because there will be company.

Nothing beats a sunset soak... especially at Goldbug

We left the trailhead a couple hours prior to sunset. Signage warned that the 1st quarter mile of the 3 mile trail crossed private land, and beyond were primitive camps and a bio-toilet near trail mile 2. Air temperatures were in the upper 80s (a rare occurrence this time of the year due to a warm front that broke many records) and shade was often hard to come by. I drank a ton of water... The last .5 mile to the springs proved to be the most difficult, after the 3rd bridge crossing. Just before the 4th bridge we were greeted by the 1st pool *sigh* - we were here. Further exploration lead to the discovery of the additional pools, although only 1 grouping was hot enough for soaking due to runoff.

Shower massage anyone?

A local actually told me that today was the 1st day the water had been warm enough for a decent soak since runoff began. As we prepped to soak we were passed by a young couple on their way back down... grinning from ear to ear - I was soon to find out why.

It doesn't get much better than this

Initially, we soaked with another local that had been coming to the springs for at least 20 years. He was friendly, polite and truly respected this special place. After some banter and story swapping he left us to soak in private. I took it all in, the hot waterfall massage, stretching out in one of the coves and watching a diamondback curl around the inside of a cracked stump above a thermal vent. At one point I was enjoying the waterfall and thinking about the rattlesnake as a twig came down the falls and hit my shoulder... I launched myself out into the pool and received some quirky looks, then giggles once it was divulged that I had thought a snake slid down the water slide. I was quite relieved myself.

The set of pools below bridge 4 (after crossing)

Watching sunset from the pool in this unique place was incredible, I can't wait to do it again... only next time I'm adding sunrise to my mental to-do list.
Rating: A+


bryanbgood said...

Hey Hotsprings Guy. Goldbug is truly an amazing hotsprings. One of the best in Idaho in my opinion. Thanks for taking such great notes and directions! Sounds like we have a lot in common. You can check out my blog if you ever get around to it.

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