• Activities:

    Chillin, Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:


  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:


  • RT Distance:

    4 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1350 Feet

Hot Springs

This potentially strenuous hike delivers you to a location that you thought only existed in dreams. After hiking up the side of a mountain, you'll be soaking in cliffside natural hot springs that are fed by a creek and sprawls out into waterfalls.

Reaching the Goldbug Hot Springs trailhead is pretty straightforward. It is located South of Salmon, Idaho and north of Challis, Idaho. The turnoff is near mile marker 282 on highway 93. This turns into a short dirt road (heading east) with a trailhead at the end; wooden fences and a restroom will assure that you're in the correct location. There are also homes along the dirt road and trailhead– don't let that deter you.

The trail to the hot springs is well traveled and very easy to follow– it's 2 miles in, and 2 miles out. If you look up at the mountain range from here, you'll see a "V" shape cut into the ridge. The pools are essentially located right at the point of the "V"– use that as motivation.

The first section is private property, but you are more than welcome to traverse it. After you pass through a gate, you'll be on national forest land.The hike is very interesting. It begins on the side of a hill and then drops down to land that mimics a desert – cactuses equipped. There is a very simple composting toilet off to your left in the desert territory if you find the need to use it while hiking up. There are also a handful of camping sites off to your right of the trail (across from the composting toilet). Fire rings and laid down tree trunks mark this area pretty easily. There are also large trees around it to give your proper shade if needed.

After you pass through the flat land, it'll begin to become overtaken with trees and the elevation will begin to gain. For some, this can be a very grueling hike. If you are in relatively good shape, this is but a mere hike that may raise your heart rate a little. I saw children and smaller dogs on the trail when I was hiking up.

The trail up ranges from dirt paths, to climbing up the sides of rocks and traversing over areas where rock slides have littered across the trail. Just before you actually reach the hot springs, the trail will morph into wooden box steps. At this point, be sure to look over to your left and break through the trees. You will be greeted by a mossy, waterfall covered oasis– cave included.

Once you breakaway from this magical sight, you'll push yourself up the last leg of steps and cross a small wooden bridge. The hot springs will then engulf your sight. There is a large pool at the very top of the cliff that is fed by a creek. The water spews over the cliff and creates 15 foot waterfalls of hot water to feed two more decently sized pools below. The water continues down from that into another pool. The farther you trek from the top pool, the cooler the water becomes.

Up from the top pool are flat areas to pitch tents, lay down a sleeping mat, or plenty of trees to string up a hammock. There are also some rocky fire rings scattered throughout the area. Keep in mind, camping isn't permitted within 500 feet of the hot springs.

This remains as one of my favorite locations to visit. Spending the night there allows you to indulge in the utter bliss of soaking in hot water on a brisk night as the sky is taken over by billions of stars. The view is unrivaled while soaking in your 'victory' pool– looking over the valley that you just conquered all the way up.

This adventure is perfect for a group of friends to spend a handful of hours or the night within nature. There is a good chance that you may make a few friends while soaking as well. Bring your camera, the landscape is breathtaking.

This excursion can be very muddy during the spring thaw, very hot in the summer, perfect in autumn, and much more difficult in the winter when the snow begins to pile up – perhaps equip yourself with snowshoes. Check the weather and prepare appropriately for conditions.

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Backpack
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Hiking shoes
  • Swimwear
  • Appropriate weather clothing
  • Camera
  • Water
  • Backpacking pack
  • Tent, Sleeping mat, or Hammock
  • Sleeping bag
  • Meals and snacks
  • fire starting equipment
  • hiking shoes
  • swimwear
  • appropriate weather clothing
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More


Overall rating: 

Leave a Review

This hot spring was unreal. It is almost like it was man made it is so perfect. There are a number of different waterfalls, some are hot and some are cold. Depending on how the waterfalls flow down into the pools determine the temperature of the pools, some hotter, some colder. There was also a small "cave" down below the main pools that allowed you to climb under the waterfalls. It really was a magical place. However, while we were there, there were a couple nude bathers.

6 months ago
6 months ago

The hike in was a lot longer than expected but easy going, be prepared and bring water cause it heats up, for me when I went some pools weren't very hot but others were BRUTAL. But the view and the atmosphere was totally worth it all.

7 months ago
7 months ago

Fun hike that has great spots to soak in the hot springs at the top! Great views while sitting in the hot springs. Small beautiful waterfalls as well.

10 months ago
10 months ago

I'm from downtown Richmond, VA so natural hot springs are not something I've experienced very much. I have only ever been to super commercialized hot springs but nothing like this so you can imagine that this was utterly breathtaking. The hike is not hard and the landscape will keep you distracted while walking. Make sure you watch your feet as I'm assuming you'll be wearing Chacos or some type of sandal. There are cactus. The last little section of the hike was unexpected for me. There were wooden stairs built in but for good reason. The trail gets very steep very fast. This part was a bit difficult for me but, again, it is worth it! There are several pools that differ in temperatures and sizes. Also, there are plenty of small areas that you can leave your backpack and not worry too much about someone running off with it. But as a general rule don't bring anything that you don't want to lose. There are no outhouses or anything up there, of course, so if you are wanting to change into dry clothing after... you may need to dodge behind some rocks or a tree. I've heard there are some nudists so keep that in mind if you are bringing younger eyes or something. Photography wise, this is a great location. The view from all the pools is fantastic. You get a taste of the landscape in front and the open sky above so there is a lot to work with. If you are bringing your tripod to do some long exposure work, please be careful since the ground is not exactly smooth and leveled in all areas.

12 months ago
12 months ago

This hike really wasn't that difficult. 4 miles round trip is about right (GPS said 3.6 total). It's very easy to find. The most difficult part is definitely the beginning switchbacks and the end trail leading to the pool, but there are stairs here and there. There was nobody nude swimming up there (all were clothed). Additionally, there's several campsites near the bottom, two with an immense amount of shade. One person was camped above the highest pool (probably closer than allowed, but nobody seemed to be enforcing it). It is pretty exposed for a good portion of the hike, so just bring some water to not overheat.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

I was one of those huffing and puffing a bit on the hike up (hey, I've lived at sea level my whole life lol) but it was phenomenal. A mini work out, fantastic soak in the hot springs and the best views ever! There were two main bigger pools across the little wooden foot bridge then I noticed a few hotter mini pools you could probably stand in on the trail side of the stream. If I had more time, I'd camp out there..so wonderful.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

I think if there weren't a 3 mile hike in this place would be packed all the time. The hike isn't bad. It's steepest at the beginning with switchbacks and the end climbing up to the springs. The springs are incredible! Various pools of different temperatures and a great shower almost exactly the temp I adjust my shower. If you get hot a quick dip in the stream can fix that!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

The hike is only about 3 miles in, a little steep for some, but highly rewarding. The trail is lined with tons of sage bushes and it smells amazing the whole way up. The vistas are absolutely beautiful and the waterfalls along the way. Went in Mid June this year, and supposedly some of the springs along the way are not quite full yet. The top of the hike before the bridge, there is a very, very hot spring, cross the bridge to two temperate, and one cold spring. Clothes are completely optional, totally worth the drive.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago


over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

The most beautiful hotsprings I have ever been to. I wish I lived close to this magical place. It was a bit crowded, we went there on a Sunday, but the hike is well worth it. The pools differ temperature wise, and one of them was so perfectly warm that we soaked for 2 hours. It's free, and it's natural, and just stunning.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Beautiful hike to the springs, and the springs were wonderful! It was a little crowded, but that could've been the day we went was when everyone was out of school. Totally worth the trip! Good times and good memories!

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Goldbug is one of my favorite exotic places to visit. If you go during the spring time (snow melting season), the water may be cooler than other times during the year because the snow melt water will effect the temperature of the hot springs. Summertime is good, I would recommend hiking early morning and soaking during the sunrise before the outside temperature get too warm for maximum enjoyment. If you can, I would recommend going in the dead of winter. The weather may be freezing cold temperatures, but the water feels twice as good! Don't miss the turn off from the highway! :) Good luck!

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Ross Perkins

Creative Wanderlusting Mechanic. • Based out of Missoula, Montana– I am fortunate enough to have an expansive playground of wilderness right in my backyard. • A curious mind and anxious feet inspire me to continuously seek out new sights.

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