Scout: Matt Pierce
Took a rare couple days off recently and decided to check out Bagby Hot Springs in the Mt. Hood National Forest. Even though Bagby has earned decidedly rowdy reputation, I hoped it would be sleepy on a weekday. Upon arrival, thankfully it was. Only a few cars in the parking lot when we arrived, and on the short hike in, we passed all the hung-over campers as they were leaving.
The simple hike follows along the Collawash River and is lined with huge trees – Especially helpful as it was lightly raining most of the day. Walking up to the facilities, we were greeted with a fenced path and a few buildings. There's a historic cabin, Forestry Service guard house, couple outhouses and the bathhouse. We sheepishly explored the grounds to understand the layout and since there was no one soaking when we arrived, it was easy to claim a tub and start filling it.
After about an hour, a couple other parties showed up. Everyone was friendly and there was plenty of space to enjoy the soak. While we were there, the Ranger stopped in for a cleanup and to make sure fees were paid. The previous nights' party had left a lot of cans stacked in corners (alcohol is prohibited) and the Ranger was friendly about it, though obviously disappointed that daily cleanups are necessary. It could be an amazingly beautiful facility if everyone would pack out what they brought in, stop setting fires to the benches, carving graffiti on every surface... Regardless, the area is pretty magical when it's not over crowded and littered.