Hike & Soak in Goldbug Hot Springs

Hike & Soak in Goldbug Hot Springs

Goldbug Hot Springs Trailhead

Distance

4 Miles

Elevation Gain

1350 Feet

Activities

Chillin, Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

Skill

Intermediate

Season

Year Round

Type

Out-and-Back

Added by

Ross Perkins

Forest
Hot Springs
River
Scenic
Waterfall

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.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations.

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Grumpy Man at trail head

Before you drive to the trail head you’ll pass a house. The man who lives here is often waiting outside his home to jump in front of your car and say a few choice words about how fast you are driving I even if you are going the speed limit. Just be careful around him. Once you get past this the rest of the hike is as amazing as was stated in every other review.

Great Experience

Went here for the first time and was very pleasantly surprised. Drove up through Stanley and got worried that there would be too much snow! However, there was only an inch or so and it was lovely. The first mile and a half of the hike is very easy with a slight uphill rise to the trail. The last 1/2 miles or so is very steep so be prepared, but it shouldn't be too hard for anyone. It was about 20 degrees outside when we went and the pool I chose was the second highest one (as the top pool was occupied) The water was a comfortable 103ish degrees by my estimate. I highly recommend this trip (though maybe camp near by if you are coming from Boise as its a long day trip).

Magical hot spring

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.

Distance

4 Miles

Elevation Gain

1350 Feet

Activities

Chillin, Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

Skill

Intermediate

Season

Year Round

Type

Out-and-Back

Added by

Ross Perkins

Nearby Adventures

Adventure

Backpack the Bighorn Crags

Adventure

Whitewater Raft the Main Salmon River

Adventure

Climb Mount Borah

Adventure

Climb Mt. Breitenbach

More Nearby Adventures

Tours

More Tours

Related Stories

destinations

WATCH: A Way of Life Under Attack - 'Welcome to Gwichyaa Zhee'

All over this country, indigenous people are literally just fighting for their identity.

gear

Patagonia's First Ever Product Collaboration: Danner & Patagonia Wading Boots

Debuted at Summer Outdoor Retailer 2018, Patagonia's newest fly fishing products are now available.

activities

The World's Gnarliest Bike Race: 1000+ Miles on the Silk Road

"How tough it will be cannot be understated, but as Mike Hall once said, 'Nothing that’s worth an...

photography

How Landscape Photographers Can Improve at Leave No Trace

We often talk about “leaving no trace” in the outdoors. You don't take anything from the wilderne...

More Stories