From Mount Baker to the Olympic Peninsula, hot springs for a spring adventure
written by Jen Sotolongo
How does a spa treatment after a long hike sound? Pretty nice, right? Washington has a handful of hot springs scattered throughout the state. Some are part of a spa retreat center, while others require a bit of work to reach.
Spring is a great time to visit hot springs. It’s right at the cusp of those long gray days slowly making way for warmer temperatures and a little more sunshine. Soaking in hot water surrounded by beautiful alpine wilderness is an ideal way to say goodbye to winter and hello to a new season.
If you’re looking to earn that relaxation with a trek, the hot springs listed below fit the bill. Although they are all within several hours driving from Seattle and could be visited in a long day trip, consider camping or booking a sweet cabin in the woods to enjoy a weekend adventure.
Baker Hot Springs
Location: Mount Baker Wilderness Area / Season: Year round / Hiking distance: 0.3 miles one way / Fee: Free / Reservation required: No
Despite the 22-mile rough forest road to the short trail leading to Baker Hot Springs, these primitive pools attract plenty of hot springs enthusiasts. In good weather, the trail to the springs is just 0.3 miles one way, and can extend to four or more miles in the winter, depending on the snowpack, so go prepared with skis or snowshoes.
Along the trail, look for a painted rock indicating the way to the hot springs. Once you arrive, you’ll find two rustic pools surrounded by towering cedars and Douglas Fir. The temperature varies in the larger pool, so be sure to test the waters before hopping in. Because of ease of access, Baker Hot Springs are more popular and can be crowded, depending on when you visit.
Olympic Hot Springs
Location: Olympic National Park / Season: Year round / Hiking distance: 10.9 miles one way, mileage depends on road conditions, bikeable with a mountain bike / Fee: No fee to use the hot springs, however Olympic National Park charges a $55 fee / Reservation required: No
First discovered in 1892, the Olympic Hot Springs were once part of a little-known resort. When the National Park Service lease expired in 1966, the buildings were removed and the springs have since been left unmaintained.
Still accessible year round, reaching the springs requires an 11-mile hike or bike ride along a partially paved road, which can increase depending on road closures. The road to the trailhead has been washed out thanks to several winter storms, hence the long journey to these pools.
There are seven natural pools located along Boulder Creek ranging from 98°F to 105°F. The first several springs are relatively easy to locate, while others require some research and sleuthing to discover.
Because the springs are not maintained, there have been known water quality issues during high use periods and in the summer, so use at your own risk.
Scenic Hot Springs
Location: Near Steven Pass / Season: Year round / Hiking distance: 2 miles with 1,100 feet of vertical gain / Fee: $10 / Reservations required: Yes
The short, but steep hike to Scenic Hot Springs requires snowshoes in the winter and visitors will need to bring basic necessities, like a towel, change of clothes, bags to store wet clothes for the return hike, water and food.
Scenic Hot Springs sits on 40 acres on private property surrounded by pristine National Forest land and requires a reservation in advance. Only ten people are allowed to visit Scenic Hot Springs per day and weekdays can book out three months in advance, weekends even further out. The trailhead has no signage, but the owners send out detailed directions once your reservation is booked.
Book your reservation at the Scenic Hot Springs website.
Goldmyer Hot Springs
Location: 25 miles east of North Bend / Season: Year round / Hiking distance: 4.5 miles one way, can also bike / Fee: $30 for adults, $25 for seniors 65+ / Reservation required: Yes
This remote privately-owned hot spring can be reached via a 16-mile drive that requires all-wheel drive or 4×4 (the website notes that Subarus and Honda CRVs cannot make this trip) followed by a 4.5-mile hike along the Snoqualmie River. The reward is a pristine spa retreat in a 20-acre wilderness preserve nestled against the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
The hot springs stem from a 125°F source located inside of a mine shaft and are redirected into two smaller and cooler pools.
Limited amenities include an open-air cabana, campsites with food hanging lines and containers, outhouses, picnic tables, and a bike rack. There is no cellular service or wifi and guests should bring their own necessities. Camping is permitted on the property for an additional $10.
Goldmyer Hot Springs is managed by Northwest Wilderness Programs, a nonprofit organization established to protect the land.
In the winter, snow chains are advised, as well as an ax or chainsaw to clear fallen trees from the road and recommend spikes for navigating the property and snowshoes for the trek during the winter.
Reservations are made via monthly online lottery drawing. Lottery submissions open three months in advance.