Many people love to hike but are fearful of the difficulty of the anticipated trail.
These kinds of people want some kind of assurance ahead of time that the trail they are traversing is appropriate for their hiking skill level.
In this article, we start off by discussing the difficulty of the Umpqua Hot Springs Trail. After discussing its difficulty, we pose some other trail questions that hikers might want answered. Finally, we offer our thoughts on the future of Umpqua Hot Springs.
How Hard Is Umpqua Hot Springs Hike?
First of all, 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 located above the Wild and Scenic part of the North Umpqua River. This lies in Umpqua National Forest, which covers 980,000 acres and lies in the South Oregon Cascades.
This is a very short trail that is rated as moderate. However, many hikers claim that this trail should be labeled as 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 that 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 on it is unlikely. The main difficulty lies in the steady uphill climb that could be taxing if you are out of shape.
What Are the Features of Umpqua Hot Springs?
The Umpqua Hot Springs and associated trail is only open dawn to dusk. Parking at the trailhead is very limited, as only about 10 vehicles can be supported. Furthermore, there is a $5 fee for parking vehicles.
This trail to the hot springs is open year-round. There is a restroom at the initial trailhead but no water throughout the trail.
The actual hot springs range in temperature from 100 degrees Fahrenheit to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Most commonly, its temperature is about 108-110 degrees Fahrenheit. This heat stems from water which seeps through an active fault.
The largest pool that hikers can bathe in measures 5 feet by 8 feet and is about 2.5 feet deep, featuring a solid rock bottom. Hikers can also bathe in another pool that is situated above the largest one. This pool is slightly 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 2650 feet above sea level and have been naturally carved out of the travertine deposits which surround 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, like white water rafting and angling most popularly.
Since the Umpqua Hot Springs Trail snakes through Umpqua National Forest, there are many outdoor activities to do in the area. Even though the Umpqua Hot Springs Trail is only 0.5 miles long, hikers can use it to access the North Umpqua Trail. This is an 80-mile trail that is open for hiking, mountain biking, and horse-back riding. The elevation gain on this longer trail ranges from 800 feet to 6000 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 Umpqua National Forest consists of old growth, which is an indication of the biodiversity of the region.
Camping is another popular activity, though there are no campsites at Umpqua Hot Springs. The closest campsite is Toketee Lake Campground.
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, these lands have been used by indigenous Native Americans for thousands of years.
By the mid-1800’s, many of these Native American tribes were fragmented due to the creation of reservations, eventually being pushed 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.
What Are the Benefits of Umpqua Hot Springs?
Many people travel far and wide to reach Umpqua Hot Springs. This is due to its hot temperatures, as the springs resemble a natural jacuzzi.
Since the springs have been naturally formed, many visitors claim their warm temperatures are curative. As such, bathing in the two pools that form the springs can be medicinal, leading to many visitors feeling restored and refreshed afterwards. 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 that would be a great site for a photograph.
Clothing is optional at the springs, and many bathe in the pools nude. This can be a liberating experience, as many visitors like to expose every bit of their flesh to the therapeutic properties of the water.
Furthermore, the hike to the springs is very short, taking no more than 30 minutes at most. This means that 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, as the 0.5-mile hike from the trailhead can be completed without significant loss or injury.
This area is generally a hotbed for outdoor activities due to the biodiversity in Umpqua National Forest. Due to the proximity of the North Umpqua River, water activities are common like white water rafting. This makes the area appealing for adventure seekers craving a thrilling experience.
Yet, at the same time, 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 love to have quiet picnics in the area or spend several hours meditating in a delightful glade.
What Are the Drawbacks of Umpqua Hot Springs?
Some visitors have noted that Umpqua Hot Springs attracts a certain kind of crowd of hippies and bohemians. Many of these people like to be naked in the springs, which could be disturbing for some visitors. Some families, for example, might not want their children to view nudity.
In addition, some visitors have noted that 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 have noted that the strenuous nature of the hike makes it inappropriate for younger children or anyone that is severely out of shape. In this sense, the beauty of the hot springs might be unreachable to some visitors, which is a shame.
What Are Some Tips for Visiting Umpqua Hot Springs?
We recommend hiking to Umpqua Hot Springs as early or late as possible in order to avoid the crowds. This is especially important during the peak summer months when a crowded trail could translate to no parking available.
We also recommend bringing plenty of water and food with you even though this is a 0.5-mile trail. You never know how long you’ll stay at the springs and you want to be prepared in case you decide to relax there for the day. Having a light yet nutritious meal on hand would be ideal in these settings for preventing a premature exit due to hunger.
We recommend dried fruit and nuts, as these are filling foods that are also extremely portable. We also recommend bringing some kind of hydration pack, as this will allow you to carry lots of water as well as access that water conveniently through a nozzle. This will come in handy during the steep ascent if you get thirsty.
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 you could 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.