Idaho Hot Springs Fire Access Update

8.22.2006
There are currently many fires raging in Idaho that are effecting access to hot springs.

The South Fork Complex Fire in the Payette National Forest has closed down the South Fork Salmon River road which grants access to Yellow Pine and the Mule Hill Trailhead to Kwis Kwis. This road closure will also bar access to Johnson Creek (AKA Hubcap) Warm Spring near Yellow Pine.

Note: The Warm Lake Highway is also closed, barring access to Trail Creek, Mile-16, all of the Mollys, Vulcan, Buckhorn and all of the other hot springs in the region.

View the South Fork Complex Fire Blog for updates.

The Rattlesnake Complex Fire has closed the Forest Service Road north of Crouch and Garden Valley, barring access to the following hot springs (which may be on fire):

Rocky Canyon, Fire Crew, Boiling Springs, Silver Creek Plunge, Bull Rack, Bull Creek, Pine Burl, Moondipper, Groundhog and Butterfly

The fires are really hitting the hot springs hard this season, with fires raging in almost every area with high concentrations of hot springs in Idaho.

Visit the National Interagency Fire Center for fire updates.

Expansion of the Boundary Fire has led to the closure of the trail to Bear Valley hot springs at the trailhead. Note, you can still drive down the forest road to the Blue Bunch Pack Bridge and even camp at Fir Creek campground, but all of the trails leading into the Frank from this area are closed and have been since Aug. 9th.

I tried to make a run for the Upper Loon hot springs but hit road closures at Sunbeam for the same reason and was advised that just about every FSR road was closed around the Stanley and Challis areas due to the Potato and Trail Creek Fires.

View the Boundary Complex Fire Blog for updates.

View the Potato and Trail Creek Fires Blog for updates.

The Middle Fork Complex Fire is currently threatening the Loon Creek Guard Station, Diamond D Ranch, Lost Packer Mine site and Castro Historic Site.

View the Middle Fork Complex Fire Blog for updates.

The above fire information is also viewable in the hot springs forums. If you have any fire information related to hot springs please feel empowered to post it in the forums.

Bear Valley and Upper Loon Hot Springs Fire Update

Access to the two hot springs is currently being effected by the Boundary Fire.

Click here to read about it in the hot springs forums...

Jerry Johnson Hot Springs Video

8.21.2006
Click here to view both clips of Jerry Johnson Hot Springs

Best Wishes & Happy Soaking,

Weir Creek Hot Springs Video Up!

8.17.2006
Select video clips of Weir Creek Hot Springs near Central Idaho in the Clearwater National Forest near Lolo, Montana.

Stanley Hot Springs Video

8.14.2006
Video Clips of Stanley Hot Springs in Idaho

Clip 1 (of 5)

Trailhead, Rock Creek and Bridge

Clip 2 (of 5)

Hiking through the mountains into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness on Trail 211 towards Stanley Hot Springs.

Clip 3 (of 5)

Just before reaching the hot springs

Clip 4 (of 5)

Stanley Hot Springs in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness

Clip 5 (of 5)

A quiet soak in Stanley Hot Springs

View Stanley Hot Springs Complete Listing

More Hot Springs Video

New Trip Reports / Briefings in the Forums

8.13.2006
A new trip report / briefing has been added to the hot springs forums for Goldbug and Elkhorn hot springs in Idaho. Their respective links are below.

Goldbug (Elk Bend)

Elkhorn (Boat Box)

Mile-16 Hot Spring Fire (Idaho) Report

Greetings everyone. I just received a report from a fellow hot springer that the fire in the Payette National Forest has reached the opposite bank of the NF of the Payette River from Mile-16 hot spring. The report stated that actual flames were clearly visible from the pool.

With that said, lets hope for the best and be careful if traveling in/to the Payette NF in the Warm Lake and Krassel areas.

If you have updated information please post it in the forums.

Best wishes & happy soaking,

Mile-16 Hot Spring Moonlit Soaking

8.10.2006

M16 - One of many in this area

My backpacking partner and I enjoyed a surreal, moonlit soak at M16 after backpacking to Rice Peak Lookout. As we were arriving a family from Montana here for Yellow Pine's annual Harmonica Festival was on their way out after enjoying one of Idaho's best areas for hot springs.
Rating A+

Soaking with the Masses @ Jerry Johnson Hot Springs in Idaho


Source 2, Pool 2

General Description
Three sources, each with their own soaking opportunities, feature pools with rock walls, some with sandy clear bottoms and some with silt. The 1st of 3 sources, known as the waterfall pools, are submerged until late summer (early August), while the other 2 sources have pools that are available for soaking year-round.


Source 1, Pool 1

Seasonal Notes
The waterfall pools from the 1st (of 3) source are best during late summer... they are submerged during spring runoff. Nighttime closure is currently in effect due to overuse and abuse problems stemming from nearby MT colleges that made JJ a party destination. Open from 6am to 8pm.


Source 1 Overhead

Camping Notes
Official campground near the trailhead along with many other nearby official campgrounds and primitive sites nearby. No camping at the hot springs - nighttime closure in effect.


Warm Springs Trail Pack Bridge

Trip Report
Three years later I returned to JJ in hopes of qualifying the waterfall pools... well... almost! I was able to withstand a few minutes with my back to the hot waterfall before heading on to qualify pools from the remaining two sources. My friend and I broke camp at 4am and were at the hot springs no later than 5am. Within 10 minutes of our arrival the crowds started to trickle in. Even though JJ is only a 1 mile flat hike, nudity is the norm here. I was surprised that there was no signs warning would be soakers of oncoming nudity - as most roadside or near roadside hot soaks do.


Signage

There was a blend of locals from Missoula, MT and travelers at JJ. The new JJ official campground is now open, and is the only campground along highway 12 without shade. This time of the year shade is most definitely a requirement. I had a great time enjoying the pools and some light banter with fellow soakers... three years has been too long.
Rating A

Protect Wildlife in Wilderness Areas - URGENT


*OK, not this wolf exactly but hundreds of others who are just as cute.

The U.S. Forest Service wants to use an array of poisons, traps and shooting -- including aerial gunning to wipe out wolves and other carnivores in designated wilderness areas.

Under the proposal, federal agents could chase down and kill bears or other carnivores using planes, helicopters, and all-terrain vehicles -- invading areas once safe for these creatures with loud, intrusive machines. The proposal also allows for the use of the controversial pesticide sodium cyanide. Baited devices could be used to shoot the highly toxic gas into a wolf's mouth, causing a horrible death.

Wildlife Services, the agency that would be put in charge, has a grim track record. In 2004 alone, their agents killed more than 37,000 animals -- coyotes, wolves, foxes, and bobcats -- from the air.

Wilderness areas were meant to be wild and free. According to the 1964 Wilderness Act, these special places should be preserved in their natural conditions with little or no human influence. But the Forest Service's plan could fundamentally alter these largely untouched areas, allowing low-flying airplanes, trucks and all-terrain vehicles to hunt down populations of wolves, bears and other carnivores.

Help force the U.S. Forest Service to withdraw this ill-advised proposal by encouraging your friends to submit their personalized comments before September 6!

Hot Water Wanton at Weir Creek Hot Springs in Idaho

8.07.2006

Enlarged

As of July 2006 Weir Creek now features an enlarged main pool. The old pool used to fit approx. 4 people, the new one has the capacity to house 8-10 hot potters. Depth has increased as well, although the solid rock bottom is still somewhat "V" shaped. The original soaking plank is still in use, and the outer walls of the pool facing Weir Creek have been reinforced with mortar. The creek-side soaker below the main pool was also enlarged, features rock walls and sandy / gravel bottom and warm water (not hot). The secondary pool is no longer in use as hot water outflow was diverted to the enlarged pool.


Good ol plank

Lower portions of the trail to the hot springs submerge during spring runoff, just stick to the upper trail (which is steep in places) and you'll be fine. A trekking pole or walking stick works great on this brief but slanty hike any time of the year. During low water, the best route begins by following the main path (most worn) above the series of primitive campsites. After you pass the last site in the series the trail drops down to Weir Creek, at this point stay as low as possible (often walking short paths on the creek bottom) until reaching the springs.


There are some nice primitive sites near the trailhead / parking area, but don't expect privacy as the well-used hot springs trail is right next to all of the sites and an alternate trail that leads to the springs passes though each site. Oftentimes, soakers miss the up-portion of the trail on the way back and end up standing in your campsite with a confused look on their face. Beyond the hot springs (continue on the trail further past), directly across from and shortly before are 3 more primitive sites. There are also plenty of official camping options near the trailhead and primitives down the road. Many choose to car-camp at the trailhead and enjoy a fire in the adjoining pit. Tread lightly please - this area has been experiencing an influx of use and abuse.


Looking down on Weir Creek

It has been too long... 3 days of soaking at Weir Creek treated me well. I needed all 3 days to pick up the trash that littered the primitive sites, trail and hot springs area. My friend and I carted out sack after sack of trash. Broken glass was everywhere, diapers, metal cans and glass bottles in fire pits... fish hooks, wire... etc. The most annoying by far was the little, tiny bits of trash that carpeted almost all of the primitives. I even had to ford the creek, follow a fallen tree up to a secluded island on the creek to find the source of a seemingly metal reflection... more trash.


I met and talked with a variety of soaker types on this trip. All were travelers save for a couple semi-locals out of Missoula, MT. I noticed a common thread among the people I observed; they didn't litter, were polite but yet did not pick up anyone else's trash except for one couple from Moscow, Idaho (kudos to you guys)... a sad ordeal indeed. All of us, whether we like it or not, impact these areas despite how light we tread. Thank the environment for use of the hot springs by becoming a steward: pick up others trash, use main trails and set a good example for others. Please only burn wood in the fire pits, other materials don't break down and emit harmful gases into the environment.


Source pool

I qualified Weir Creek multiple times on this trip. Early afternoon to late night / early morning hours lead to consistent temperature readings of 108° (2 degrees higher than that of 2002) while early morning brought about consistent temperatures of 105° (1 degree higher than that of 2002).

The main pool, and only pool (aside from the warm, creek-side soaker) suitable for soaking had been improved since my last visit. Improvements rendered the pool wider and deeper, growing from 4 person capacity to 8+.


Base camp

I actually had a great time meeting and talking with fellow soakers, something that I rarely get to do around hot springs in southern Idaho. People were friendly, and to say the least it was refreshing. Weir Creek was a great place to unwind after a blistering hike to Stanley Hot Springs and beyond the prior 3 days. Before heading back home yet one more trip was to be had in this region, Jerry Johnson.
Rating A


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