American Long Distance Hiking Association - West

Best Soaks on The Hot Springs Trail

13 Dec 2016 8:44 AM | Kate Hoch (Administrator)

by Aria Zoner

If you're like me, you can never get your fill when it comes to soaking in hot springs. Why is that? What it is about hot springs that is so appealing? Some say it's a mystery, others say "It's just cause they feel good"!

In designing The Hot Springs Trail, I realized that not all hot springs are created equal and that you don't always need a big pool to have an amazing experience. I also realized that beyond the quality, quantity, and temperature of the water – the environment around the spring must also be considered. Is there a nice view from the water? Is there pleasant camping, friendly locals, and abundant wildlife nearby? Can I get NAKED? I consider all of this when selecting my best soaks.

Diving in, it's important to point out that there are 3 main types of hot springs on The Hot Springs Trail.

1. Hikers on this 2,421-mile adventure will have a chance to visit 7 commercial hot spring resorts. These aren't the fancy Palm Springs style resorts; but rather, are backcountry lodges that serve meals and accept resupply packages. Among the best of these is the Red River Hot Springs Resort, located in Idaho on the edge of the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness area.

Red River Hot Springs Resort - IdahoRed River Hot Springs Resort - Idaho

2. On the other end of the hot springs spectrum are wild hot springs. Although not as reliable as resorts, wild hot springs still offer a nice opportunity to soak. Sheepeater Hot Springs, deep in the Frank Church Wilderness, is about as wild as it to Marten Hot Spring that is. Just to the north of Sheepeater, and 22 miles from the nearest road, Marten Hot Spring may be the most remote hot spring in the US. *Important update for The Hot Springs Trail Official Guidebook - The Marten Creek Trail, approaching Marten Hot Spring, was cleared this year and has been re-opened. This improvement eliminated the need to approach it from above by going XC.

Wild soaking on The Hot Springs Trail - Sheepeater Hot Springs, IdahoWild soaking on The Hot Springs Trail - Sheepeater Hot Springs, Idaho

3. The third type of hot springs on this trail are semi-developed wild hot springs. With headrests, drains, and temperature controls. In my opinion, these are some of the best soaks.

Semi-developed Wild Hot Spring - Big Caliente Hot Springs, CaliforniaSemi-developed Wild Hot Spring - Big Caliente Hot Springs, California

The Hot Springs Trail ends as any hot spring soak should, with a cold plunge! This final dip is enjoyed when you get to the border of Canada, at the lovely Priest Falls.

Interested in becoming a thru-soaker? Learn more about this trail by visiting


  • 13 Jan 2017 4:53 PM | Bob Turner (Administrator)
    A good chunk of this trail runs right thru Idaho. Should do some serious thinking about hiking this one.
    Link  •  Reply

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