Nestled between Portland and Salem, Oregon, lies the Mount Hood National Forest. This amazing forest spans over 1 million acres and includes a number of hot springs, including Bagby Hot Springs. A hot spring is a natural body or spring of water that has an elevated temperature, usually warmer than body temperature. There are quite a few hot springs across the world, but Bagby Hot Springs, nestled in the depths of the Mount Hood National Forest, is quite the sight to behold.

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History

The Mount Hood National Forest is divided into four different sections and eight official wilderness areas, including Bull of the Woods Wilderness. Bagby Hot Springs are located just outside this wilderness at an elevation of 2,280 feet. Although the Mount Hood National Forest was first established in 1892, Bagby Hot Springs didn’t officially become part of the forest until 1908. Historians believe that it was first settled for hundreds of years by Native American people, who revered the springs. The main bathhouses of Bagby Hot Springs were built in 1913 and, due to the increase of forest fires, fire control crews built the Bagby Guard Station, which remained in use until 1974. After it was closed to the public, it was placed on the list of National Register of Historic Places. The bathhouses and Bagby Hot Springs are very popular places for tourists to visit all year round. Bagby Hot Springs and its surrounding areas are serviced by the United States Forest Service and are kept up to date on regulations.

Hot Springs and Bathhouses

Bagby Hot Springs are made up of three large springs and a number of smaller springs. The water that springs from them is full of minerals that have no harmful effect on the body, and include sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. At least 42 gallons per minute of this natural spring water flows through Bagby Hot Springs from the three major springs, with temperatures that can reach between 49°C and 59°C.

The original bathhouse at Bagby Hot Springs was constructed in 1920. Bathing was all the rage at the time, and people loved to visit the bathhouse at Bagby. Unfortunately, due to carelessness the original bathhouse succumbed to a fire in 1979, when forgotten candles caused a fast-burning fire that ripped through the old wood of the bathhouse. Fortunately, no one was hurt, but the bathhouse was destroyed; three new bathhouses were added between 1983 and 1986.

The main bathhouse was the last to be built, and consists of five tubs, allowing visitors to soak in the spring water in complete privacy. This bathhouse is nicknamed the “Private Deck” because it is the most secluded and private, situated between the three decks, which can cause long queues. The second bathhouse, the “Lower Deck,” is open to the public and includes three long tubs through which the spring water flows. The last bathhouse is the “Upper Deck,” which was the first bathhouse built after the fire. This deck is open to the public and is a communal area, however it is located 100 yards away from the other bathhouses. This deck has a large round tub for visitors to enjoy the warm waters of Bagby.

Facility and Access

Bagby Hot Springs is open to the public all day every day of the year. Since the springs are open all the time, there are US Forest Service officials and volunteers on hand to keep a look out for unwanted guests or other mischief. Bagby Hot Springs is a no-camping zone and that policy is strictly enforced. Throughout the open areas, nudity is not allowed, although it is allowed within the bathhouses themselves. Bagby Hot Springs is located 1.5 miles off the beaten path from the closest forest area parking site. Since it is quite the hike up to the springs, visitors are advised to dress appropriately for walking. The spring and summer months are the most popular times to visit, especially since the cold and snowy winter months tend to leave the roads blocked, with little access to the springs. Repair works are currently taking up most of the area at Bagby Hot Springs, but the communal and private bathhouses are still available for use.

Clackamas County, Oregon, United States

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