I was excited to finally visit the hot springs after years of thinking about it.
According to the sign at the parking area where the road is gated, the distance to the hot springs is 10.3 miles one way.
According to the sign at the gate, dogs and bikes are allowed on the bypass trail and the road -- but not anywhere else. (Your dog couldn't go to the hot springs with you, but you could enjoy a nice long walk along the road if you're interested.)
The bypass trail was well marked and very easy to follow. The road and trail were easy walking. There were a few trees down across both the road and the trail. Only one, on the trail, was a bit hard for me to get over. I have short legs, but I made it.
The site of the former dam would be a nice day trip. The have some great interpretive signs and the view is lovely. There is apparently a trail into the former reservoir bed which I'd like to go back to see someday.
When I arrived on a Friday, there was one other group at the camp. They mentioned seeing a bear on the west side of the camp, but I never saw it. Be sure to use the bear wires and hang anything scented. One of the bear wires is near the privy.
I heard barred owls calling loudly for awhile overnight, which was fun. There was a pair calling back and forth.
I enjoyed a long soak in the pool nearest the river on the left, which was warm but not too warm, and not too covered in algae. I also enjoyed exploring all the hot springs and noting the different temperatures. The last one requires a somewhat steep climb and crawling under a downed log, but it's a gorgeous spot.
That's it for trip report! I'm keeping track of my goal this year to backpack every month in my own county. That goal was immediately derailed in February when my father was diagnosed with cancer. He passed away after a shockingly short time. I hope, however, that I'll keep up with the goal for the rest of the year. Being outside was one of the things he loved, and I'm glad that he and my mom passed that love on to me.
This trip was a little easier than the last one in March. I definitely miss him every day. I realized that I'm not sure if he ever hiked this trail. He likely did — but I can't ask him now. That's a realization that feels hard every time.
One of the ways I've been entertaining and comforting myself since the pandemic first started is playing with watercolors. I'm not good. I'm very much still a beginner. But I do truly love it. I brought my watercolors with me on my trip, and it was pretty magical to sit with my feet in a hot spring and attempt to capture a bit of what I saw in paper. The tree near the hot spring was blooming with gorgeous white flowers. And I realized I have NO IDEA how to paint white flowers. Something new to work on.
This was my third backpack this year in my county. I'm hoping to add a fourth later this month.