Umpqua Hot Springs: A Guide to Hiking and Exploring

Umpqua Hot Springs: A Guide to Hiking and Exploring

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The world is a beautiful place, and with so many stunning locations to visit, how do you know how to pick the right one? Whether it is a beach, a mountain, or the forest, one thing is for certain, doing the right planning beforehand and understanding what it is that you are getting into is the difference between having a great adventure and a not so great one.

One of the most popular locations to explore this season is the stunning Umpqua Hot Springs. The Umpqua Hot Springs is easily one of the most stunning locations as there is so much beauty that is just waiting to be explored. However, part of the experience that not many people are always ready for is hiking the accompanying trail to get to the hot springs. Luckily for your travel group, we have put together this handy list that will allow you to prepare yourself in all the ways necessary. Let’s get started with our overview with everything you need to know before you head out on your adventure to the Umpqua Hot Springs.

How Hard Is It To Hike?

The Umpqua Hot Springs Trail is a 0.5-mile out-and-back trail that leads to 3 hot springs, 2 of which are available to the public.

These hot springs are above the Wild and Scenic part of the North Umpqua River in Umpqua National Forest, which covers 980,000 acres and lies in the South Oregon Cascades.

This is a short, moderate trail. However, many hikers claim it’s strenuous. Even though there is only a 125-foot elevation gain, the trail entails a steep ascent for about 0.3 miles before offering hikers access to the steaming hot springs.

Some hikers claim the trail is not well marked or maintained in some parts. This could lead to confusion for some hikers. Luckily, since this is a relatively busy and short trail, getting lost is unlikely. The main difficulty lies in the steady uphill climb, which could be taxing if you are out of shape.

umpqua hot springs

What Are the Features of Umpqua Hot Springs?

The Umpqua Hot Springs and the associated trail is open dawn to dusk year-round. Parking at the trailhead is limited; only about 10 vehicles can fit. There is a $5 fee for parking vehicles. There is a restroom at the initial trailhead but no water throughout the trail.

Swimming In The Springs

The actual hot springs range in temperature from 100 degrees Fahrenheit to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Most commonly, it’s about 108 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat stems from water which seeps through an active fault.

The largest pool hikers can bathe in measures 5 feet by 8 feet and about 2.5 feet deep, featuring a solid rock bottom. Hikers can bathe in another pool situated above the largest one. This pool is smaller but warmer, measuring about 4 feet by 5 feet. It’s also 2.5 feet deep and features a coarse sand bottom.

These hot springs are located about 2,650 feet above sea level and were naturally carved out of the travertine deposits surrounding the area. The largest pool is situated under a wooden enclosure.

From the pools, hikers can view the waterfall Surprise Falls. This lies across the North Umpqua River which is about several hundred feet below the springs. This river offers visitors access to many activities, including white water rafting and angling.

Outdoor Activities

Since the trail snakes through Umpqua National Forest, there are many outdoor activities to do in the area. Although the Umpqua Hot Springs Trail is only half a mile long, hikers can use it to access the North Umpqua Trail. This is an 80-mile trail open for hiking, mountain biking, and horse-back riding. The elevation gain on this longer trail ranges from 800 feet to 6,000 feet, spanning diverse terrain and environments.

This area of the Cascades is home to more than 250 species of wildlife, including black bears, cougars, eagles, salmon, and foxes. Also, about half of the Umpqua National Forest consists of old growth, which is an indication of the biodiversity of the region.

The closest campsite is Toketee Lake Campground

hot spring

What Is the History of Umpqua National Forest?

This area of the Cascades is notable for having a long history of usage. Even though Umpqua National Forest was officially created in 1907, Native Americans used these lands for thousands of years.

By the mid-1800s, many of these Native American tribes fragmented due to the creation of reservations, eventually pushing to the Umpqua Valley to farm and ranch.

Two translations of the word “Umpqua” are “thundering waters” and “across the waters.” Both meanings refer to the dramatic fragmentation of local Native Americans after European and American explorers forced them off their lands.

Benefits of Visiting Umpqua Hot Springs

Many people travel far and wide to reach Umpqua Hot Springs, and with good reason.

Refreshing Experience

Since the springs were naturally formed, many visitors claim their warm temperatures are curative. As such, bathing in the two pools can be medicinal. Many visitors feel restored and refreshed afterward. There is certainly something magical about submerging yourself in steaming water in the middle of a national forest.

The magic and energy of the springs are palpable when you are there. The area is a picturesque location great for a photograph.

Clothing is optional at the springs. Many bathe in the pools nude. This can be a liberating experience, as many visitors like to expose their flesh to the therapeutic properties of the water.

Short, Scenic Trail

The hike to the springs is short, taking no more than 30 minutes. This means the springs are very accessible, even in spite of the strenuous hike to get there. Many natural wonders of the world require an arm and leg in order to access. You don’t have to sacrifice that much to see Umpqua Hot Springs.

This area is generally a hotbed for outdoor activities. Due to the proximity of the North Umpqua River, water activities are common such as white water rafting. This makes the area appealing for adventure seekers craving a thrilling experience.

The idyllic setting makes Umpqua National Forest an ideal location for anyone wanting to appreciate the beauty of nature and disconnect from the chaos of modern life. Many people have quiet picnics in the area or spend several hours meditating in a delightful glade.

hot spring

What Are the Drawbacks?

Some visitors noted that the springs attract a certain kind of crowd of hippies and bohemians. People offended by nudity may not enjoy the springs. Some families, for example, might not want their children to view nudity.

Some visitors notice drinking and smoking are common at the springs. This can disrupt the solitude of the location and result in littering, which threatens the local ecosystem.

Additionally, some people added that the strenuous nature of the hike makes it inappropriate for younger children or anyone severely out of shape. 

Tips for Visiting Umpqua Hot Springs

We recommend hiking to Umpqua Hot Springs as early or late as possible to avoid crowds. This is especially important during the peak summer months when a crowded trail could mean no available parking.

It’s a good idea to bring plenty of water and food with you even though this is a short trail. You never know how long you’ll stay at the springs and you want to be prepared. 

We suggest dried fruit and nuts, as these are filling yet portable foods. We also recommend bringing some kind of hydration pack. This will come in handy during the steep ascent if you get thirsty.

hot spring

Our Final Thoughts on Umpqua Hot Springs

We think Umpqua Hot Springs is a must-see location for any outdoor enthusiast.

Since Umpqua National Forest is such a dense, beautiful region, we recommend spending at least several days exploring its varied terrain. You could either camp at one of the nearby campsites or stay in a more luxurious bed-and-breakfast in the nearby city of Roseburg, Oregon.

Regardless of how you plan your trip, we think you’ll be deeply satisfied by your experience of the Hot Springs.

Have you had a chance to visit the beautiful Umpqua Hot Springs? If so, let us know what your experience was like below. Feel free to share with us your thoughts and feelings about your highlights of the trip as well as what you did not enjoy so much. If you know someone who is looking to get away on a great adventure, don’t forget to share this article with them as well!

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