The Hot Spring:
Bagby Hot Springs are one of the most popular hot springs in Oregon. This is because of the wonderfully constructed bath houses and tubs in a picture perfect natural setting. However their popularity has brought a very unwelcome party vibe to the springs that has caused many avid soakers to avoid these springs. The close proximity to Portland and relatively easy access has made this a prime destination for partiers from the city. Because of this rules have been posted about only soaking for one hour to let others soak (we consider these recommendations because we always soak over one hour). Some people take these rules seriously and this can cause some conflicts during busy times. Basically if you visit on a weekend anytime expect there to be many people and probably some very drunk people.
Despite the negative party vibe that has changed the energy of the area the tubs and bath houses are very well designed and offer a very good soak. There are two springs emerging at about 135 degrees Fahrenheit that are both surrounded by concrete to concentrate the flow into wooden flumes that take the water to the tubs. The upper spring is fed into one 6 foot diameter private wooden tub. There is also cold water gravity fed to a faucet at the pool to mix the hot and cold water creating an almost perfect water temperature. This pool is on a deck with one wall providing privacy and a changing area that is covered from the rain.
The other spring is channeled to two bath houses that are adjacent to each other. One consists of 5 private soaking rooms with single cedar log tubs. This bath house is a replica of the old bath house that burned down in 1979. The communal soaking area below the private tubs have the three old cedar log tubs that are left from the old bath house. There is also a 6 foot diameter circular tub in the communal area. All of these tubs are filled from one flume from the spring, so if many people are filling tubs at one time the flow can be very low (this also causes conflicts). There is also a cold water tub with a bucket next to it to bring cold water to the tubs and cool them off to whatever temperature is desired.
The Hot Springs were originally found by a prospector named Robert W. Bagby in 1981. In 1913 he built a cabin that became the ranger station that is still on the property. The first bath house was built in 1939 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (which was later burned down in 1979). In the early years there were very few visitors because of the long journey but a logging road was built in 1960 and that all changed. All of the current bath houses were built by a volunteer group called Friends of Bagby Hot Springs that formed in the early 1980's after the original bath house burned from what was thought to be a candle left by a soaker. The final bath house which was a replica of the old bath house was completed in 1985. The Friends of Bagby Hot Springs managed the property until 2001 when there were disputes with the Forest Service. Today the springs are managed and maintained by the Forest Service in conjunction with the Northwest Forest Conservancy. They have plans to restore the old ranger station and turn it into an Interpretive Center which will be staffed. For more information contact Michael Rysavy through www.nwforests.com