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Guide to Hot Springs in the Cascades

Published: September 27, 2019

 

Oregon's hot springs are all unique. If you are planning a dip into nature's warm waters just outside of Eugene, use this hot springs guide to select the right pool for your adventure. Dedicated hot spring hoppers will find it easy to visit all of these in a weekend. 

McCredie Hot Springs

McCredie Hot Springs by Melanie Griffin
Soaking in McCredie Hot Springs smaller river pools by Melanie Griffin
 

This is a wild hot spring. The pools at McCredie are constantly changing shapes, the temperatures are unpredictable compared to others and the pools are murky with silty bottoms. Still, these springs are rewarding for the daring.

Just off Highway 58, about 8 miles east of Oakridge is the signed parking lot for the springs. There are restrooms next to the lot. The pools here are shallow but very easy to access. To get to the larger pool, you can cross the river when it is low (but do so very carefully as the flow can be fast during certain times of the year) or just drive further down Highway 58 and turn right at the next opportunity. You will cross a bridge over Salt Creek and wind through the forest for a bit before finding a very small, unmarked pullout on the right-hand side. The hiking trail down to the springs is just shy of a mile and very peaceful. Clothing is optional here and the crowds are usually pretty minimal. 

 

Belknap Hot Springs Resort

Belknap Hot Springs Resort by Melanie Griffin
Belknap Hot Springs Resort's day-use hot springs-fed pool by Melanie Griffin
 

Right on the edge of the McKenzie River, Belknap is the perfect place to soak if you want the healing benefits of the mineral-rich waters without the mud or skinny dippers. The water from the springs across the river is pumped into a large, clean swimming pool with restrooms, showers and deck chairs. Inside the lodge, there is also a small market for snacks. Pay $8 for an hour or $15 for a whole day. Access to the day-use pool is included for overnight guests staying in the lodge, cabins or tent sites. Additionally, lodging guests get exclusive access to a second upper pool. If you forget to bring a towel, you can borrow one from the lodge for a small fee. 

After a relaxing experience in the pool, cross the bridge for a stroll through the beautiful gardens. If you are lucky, you'll find the "Secret Garden" - an Instagram favorite. Belknap is wonderful year-round but most enjoyable on a foggy fall day when the leaves are changing and the warm waters feel perfect with a little chill in the air. 

Terwilliger (Cougar) Hot Springs

Terwilliger Hot Springs by Melanie Griffin
Terwilliger Hot Springs by Melanie Griffin
 

Terwilliger (called "Cougar" by locals) is one of the most popular hot springs in Oregon. As such, you can expect to see quite a few people on a visit to these four cascading pools. The source of the spring is at the top and each pool gets gradually cooler as you go down. There is a cash fee of $7 per day for use of the hot springs. The water here is clear and the setting is incredibly beautiful. Look for the rock with a cougar carved into it while soaking in the top pool. Clothing is optional at Cougar but you might see folks covering themselves in mud or clay from the springs which is said to be great for the skin. There is a small covered area for your belongings and new restrooms near the springs. There is also a restroom at the parking lot which is a short 1/4 mile hike through lush forest from the springs. 

Deer Creek (Bigelow) Hot Springs

Deer Creek Hot Springs by Melanie Griffin
Deer Creek Hot Springs by Melanie Griffin
 

Deer Creek, also known as Bigelow Hot Springs, is actually more like a "warm" springs. This single pool sits so close to the river that it disappears completely during the months when the river runs high. There is a fairly short window when this spring is worth visiting: at the end of summer when the river is low but temperatures haven't dipped. Even though the waters don't get as hot as some of the others on this list, the site itself is special. The warmest spot in the pool is near the back of the cave which covers about half the pool. From there, you get a great view of the river and the forest. There is no cost for a soak here and clothing is optional. Luckily, Deer Creek is located just off the McKenzie River highway near Cougar and Belknap so if you happen to visit during the season when Deer Creek disappears, you can find another hot spring to enjoy. 

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Author: Melanie Ryan Griffin

Melanie is a University of Oregon graduate who studied Cultural Anthropology and Cinema. After finishing school, she worked as a touring concert photographer for many years before expanding into writing concert and album reviews for online publications. Melanie is now the Tourism Marketing Coordinator for Travel Lane County. She has lived in Eugene for more than a decade. She has also lived in California, New Mexico, Florida, Spain and Slovakia. 

Melanie enjoys exploring the vibrant arts and culture scene in Eugene.  She also loves painting, cooking for friends, dancing, hiking and buying too many house plants. Follow her Instagram for Lane County's best kept secrets.