Bagby Hot Springs. Part 2

In part 1 of this blog, I talked about camping in the area of Bagby Hot Spings and a failed attempt to get to soak in the wee hours of the morning. The next night we decided to try a different time, and rather than going for sunrise, we would go at sunset. We reasoned that many of the day trippers would be leaving at that time, especially those who had not come prepared with candles or other means of lighting their way along the trail. So with the sun descending into the treetops we set off.

It was nice because this time I was able to take some pictures along the trail, even if I had to use very low shutter speeds.

However, this can create some interesting smearing in the pictures. Unfortunately about half way along the trail, we were forced to witness more of the same from the night before. This time it was a fight that broke out between two groups of adults. A mother scurried past them with young kids as the fight was heating up. We moved off the trail about 15 yards in front of them and waiting for them to either pass or for them to calm down. After about 10 or 15 minutes it appeared as if they had calmed down enough for us to pass. We decided to go for it and got past them. Shortly after this one of the men who had been fighting ran back up a trail, and we saw him pick up a knife and some other things that had been dropped, presumably in their earlier scuffles. Luckily no other trouble broke up although the heart was pounding and I definitely felt nervous.

As we arrived at the Springs, we were pleased to hear that everything was quiet, unlike the night before. We went up to upper tub again and found that it was occupied, but they were just about to leave. Sweet. Within ½ hour we were settling down to a nice soak. That short delay gave me a chance to see where the water came out of the ground.

There are three main springs at Bagby. The largest spring serves the lower tubs and this one just feeds the upper tub that we were waiting for. The water comes out at a temperature of 136 degrees. The third springs only produces a trickle of water so is not very useful. After the short concrete section, the water is moved over to the tub with hollowed out cedar logs. The tub itself is a 6 foot diameter tub on a raised deck. A screen around the tub provides some privacy, and while clothing is meant to be worn in these tubs, it is usual for people to soak naked. Sorry no pictures!!

On our way back to camp we passed several groups of people heading up and so our timing had been perfect. We had not been rushed and managed to soak until we were ready to leave.

While in the tub we talked about the plans to turn Bagby over to a concession, as it is becoming too expensive for the forest service to maintain. At the same time having active management would help to deal with some of the rowdy behavior that we had witnessed here and make it a more pleasant experience for those who do visit. Unfortunately there are down sides. Today it is free apart from requiring a forest service pass. While alcohol and nudity are not allowed today, they are both common practice and I doubt this would be the case anymore. It is also not clear if there would be more restricted opening times. So as with most things there will be plusses and minuses to such a change.

Would I go to Bagby again? Probably not, although I thoroughly enjoyed the company of the people I was with.

Brought to you by Brian Bailey


3 thoughts on “Bagby Hot Springs. Part 2

  • March 2, 2015 at 10:59 PM

    I’ve been up there three times in the last year and had awesome trips and not so awesome, the first time was really nice, at first we went to one of the private baths in the lower tubs and settled and lit some candles, and someone had brought their very friendly dog up. he would come say hi under the doors, probably looking for food, the only scary thing that happened on that trip was that someone didnt like the dog and threatened to get his gun out or something, but nothing actually happened. eventually we moved over to a bigger community tub and that was nice! it was a slow night and only one other couple showed up and used the far tub.

    The second time was after the landslide that took out the hwy 224 to get to the springs, so we had a four hour detour and found our way on the off season mountain roads, while beautiful, took much longer, and leaving around 10 at night we didnt get there until 2 am. This time we went to the upper tub and chilled with some cool people and left after sunrise, the hike back that morning was amazing! I’d never seen it in the light before!

    and the third time was just bad timing on our part, we went valentines night and every tub/roon was packed, and we learned how impossible it is to keep a single log tub warm enough for four people, there was no drama tho, i heard a guitar from afar.

    the only bad thing i’d ever heard about bagby was from the friend who introduced me, he called it “the bagby curse” which means that something goes terribly every trip up to bagby

  • June 28, 2011 at 8:12 PM

    I was last at Bagby hot springs in the early 1970’s. At that timeit was being taken over by criminals and well know for a place NOT to go. But, we were dumb teens and went anyway. I remember some violent fighting at the tub area and we were forced to leave after only a few minutes in the tub. We practically ran back down the trail to the car fearing for our lives.

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