Cougar Hot Springs

• Cougar Hot Springs is a scenic geothermal destination hidden in the dense forest
• The site features five-tiered cascading pools lined with lithified rocks

Hot Springs SoakingHiking Oregon

There are some places in this world that once you have visited you would wish to keep it a secret. One travel destination that guarantees to give you this special kind of feeling is Cougar Hot Springs also known as Terwilliger Hot Springs.

Cougar Hot Springs is located 55 miles away from Eugene in the elegant Willamette National Forest, near the Cougar Reservoir. While you enjoy the scenic view of the reservoir, focus on your right and you will see a small kiosk.  There is a parking area on your left. Park your car and walk to the kiosk where you will pay a fee.

After that, you will be free to walk through the fantastic forest for approximately a quarter mile. The walk is easy and enjoyable as the path is clear and straightforward to follow.

The area is a magical place of its own that is deeply hidden in the beautiful forest. This means that apart from just enjoying the benefits that come from mineral-rich hot water, you will also be able to experience the serenity of a lush and dense forest. You will have the rare moments to wash away all your stress and anxiety. After soaking, these feelings will be replaced with an active relaxed state of your mind, body, and emotions.

There are five-tiered pools whose sizes range between 3 and 12 feet across and their depth ranges from 2 to 3 feet deep. The pools are lined with lithified rocks, though sometimes small gravel is used.

October 2016

Cougar Hot Springs

Cougar Hot Springs

Cougar Hot Springs

Cougar Hot Springs

Clothing is optional at the hot springs. Glass containers are not allowed here. Alcohol and beverages are also prohibited. Another etiquette that you are encouraged to adhere is not to smoke; this is solely done to make the non-smokers more comfortable.

If you bring your dog with you, leave him or her in a special area for dogs a few yards away from the hot springs.

You can visit this site any time of the year so long as it is during the daytime.


  • Every Thursday from 8 am till 12 pm pools are closed for cleaning and maintenance
  • It is crowded on weekends and holidays

July 2019

Cougar Hot Springs - trail

Cougar Hot Springs - Pools

Terwilliger Hot Springs

Terwilliger Hot Springs

Brief History

Like other Oregon hot springs, Cougar Hot Springs was used by Native Americans for centuries. One of the first European settlers, who discovered and started using the hot springs in the 1860s, was Hiram Terwilliger. Almost 40 years later, in 1906, he filed a mineral-rights claim but it was denied by the Forest Service.

The official name of the hot springs is Terwilliger but the springs are mostly known as Cougar because of their proximity to Cougar Reservoir where it is drained through the Rider Creek.

The hot springs were an isolated remote destination until 1960 when the Cougar Dam and paved roads were built by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

After the 1960s, this destination became extremely popular. People began living in the area for weeks and months. From the 1970s to the 1990s, there were hundreds of people camping near the source of the springs. In the summer months, at the same time, it could be over 1,000 people in this area at the same time.

The growth of crowds caused violence, loud night parties, littering, drugs dealing, and alcohol consumption, loitering and panhandling by hippies, and, finally, a murder that occurred in 1996.

In 1998, the Forest Service decided to charge a fee to use hot springs and prohibited camping near the site. The fee system helped to clean and rebuild pools, the restrictions such as a night-closure policy and alcohol ban made this place safer and more attractive for hot springs lovers.


Camping & Lodging

Camping is not allowed at the hot springs. Slide Creek campground is located 3.4 miles south and Delta Campground is 7.9 miles north.

Accommodation is available in Eugene.

Lodging in Eugene

Affordable vacation rentals for short and long term stay at Eugene

Cougar Hot (Terwilliger) Hot Springs | Facts

Open: Year-round from sunrise to sunset
Managed by: US Forest Service

Development: Primitive
Amenities: Compost toilets at the hot springs, vault toilet on the parking area
Activities: Soaking & hiking
Clothing: Optional

Distance from parking: 0.25 miles
Road Access: Any vehicle
Day-use fees: Yes

Elevation: 1,700 ft (518 m)

Cougar Hot Springs is located:

  • 55 miles east of Eugene
  • 117 miles southeast of Salem
  • 162 miles southeast of Portland.

Water temperature: 95°F (35°C) to 110°F (43°C)
Water acidity level: Neutral (pH=7.76)
Type of the springs: Sodium Chloride
Chemical used: None

Average dissolved solids: 1,800 Mg/L

Chloride - 788 Mg/L
Sodium - 392 Mg/L
Sulfate - 260 Mg/L
Calcium - 225 Mg/L
Silica - 50 Mg/L
Carbonate - 21 Mg/L
Potassium - 6.3 Mg/L
Boron - 5.1 Mg/L
Fluoride - 0.8 Mg/L
Lithium - 0.52 Mg/L
Magnesium - 0.1 Mg/L

Adventures Nearby

Directions to Cougar Hot Springs

From I-5 in Eugene,

  • Take exit 194A for Highway OR-126
  • Travel 47 miles east on  Highway 126 to Cougar Dam Road
  • Turn right onto Cougar Dam Road and continue to Aufderheide Drive
  • Turn right and then stay on the Aufderheide Drive
  • Drive 7 miles to the Terwilliger Hot Springs Trailhead on the right, the parking area is on the left.

Address: Terwilliger Hot Springs Trailhead, Cougar Dam Road, Lane County

GPS (Hot Springs): N 44°4.986' W 122°14.336' | 44.0831,-122.2389

GPS (Trailhead): N 44°4.860' W 122°13.794' | 44.082, -122.232


1. Lauren S. Forcella. "Geochemistry of Thermal and Mineral Waters in the Cascade Mountains of Western North America". 1981
2. "Geothermal Information Layer for Oregon".


  1. The road to Cougar hot springs is closed due to landslides. It is not clear when it will open.

    1. The hot springs is open in July. Still the nice place to soak in spite the burned woods around.

    2. Author

      The Cougar Hot Springs is open

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