The Hot Spring:
Hot water over 180 degrees F is abundant at Panther Hot Springs but cold water is not. Big Creek only has a significant amount of water during spring runoff and the rest of year it is just a trickle. Several Hot spring emerge an the bank of the creek and make it a hot creek after the first spring. At the first spring there is a sand and gravel pool where the cold and hot water mix and a good soakable temperature is attainable. Unfortunately when we were cleaning this pool (it was filled with silt and needed to be dug out) the largest black widow we have ever seen had made its home in the rocks along the wall of the pool, so we decided not to soak. All of the pools below this are quite large and nice in a small canyon but way too hot to soak in. If the cold water was harnessed better these pools might be soakable year round.
Instead of pools the hot water is used for a really cool rock and mud sauna. Several mineral springs created a calcite rock mound next Big Creek, and flow down the mound to the creek and all the pools. Up on the mound near the springs the boiling water flows under the sauna. The sauna has rock walls with mud in the cracks and the roof is made of logs and tarps. The floor is made of wooden palates to protect you from the hot water and the abundant steam makes for a good sweat.
In the past a very nice rock and cement pool built by the Sterlings in 1987 was located in the creek. The pool was large enough for a dozen people and the hot water was piped in and controlled with a valve. The cold water was channeled into a concrete trough on the opposite side of the creek as the hot springs and could be utilized in all the pools down the creek. Unfortunately in 2003 a forest fire in the valley followed by a large flood destroyed all the pools and concrete trough. An ash and mud flow went down Big Creek Valley all the way to Panther Creek destroying everything in its path. The area is still not re-built to its old glory but the sauna survived the chaos and is worth the journey.