• Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs is a series of hot springs on the river bank
• This spot has a great potential to make the soaking experience safe and enjoyable
Breitenbush Hot Springs is a series of geothermal springs emerging along the bank of the Breitenbush River in the Willamette National Forest, 9 miles northwest of the town of Detroit and 600 feet downstream of the Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center.
Breitenbush geotrhermal water is revered for its curative and rejuvenating properties and has been used by local residents and travelers since the 1840s, the time this site was discovered.
In the 1910s, Mark Skiff from Salem received a permit from the Forest Service to use this site to build a resort. The resort, named Skiff's camp, was built on both sides of the river and included 30 cabins, a lodge, restaurant, shop, bathhouse, and a footbridge across the river. Unfortunately, large floods in the 1970s destroyed this area as well as upper hot springs properties. The upper hot springs was rebuilt in 1977 and, finally, became a popular retreat and conference center.
The lower hot springs were never restored. The concrete remnants of buildings, footbridge, and pools are a vivid reminder of the past prosperity and current decline. This spot has the great potential to make a soaking experience safe and enjoyable. Hopefully, the Forest Service that manages this site will find a way to restore the beautiful Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs.
The lower hot springs are accessible by the 0.5-mile trail from the parking area. The excellent hiking trail winds through old-growth Douglas-fir and Western Hemlock forest leading to the scenic wild river. When you reach the river, hike along the trail upstream to the hot springs. Also, you can drive to the parking across the river and ford it when the water level is low. It is dangerous to cross the river during high water and spring runoff!
Currently, Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs contains two big concrete pools, a few small tubs, and a couple of corroded bathtubs near the river. The water emerges at temperature up to 150°F. A few hoses are used to pipe the hot water from the source into the tubs and pools. The temperature in the tubs varies from very hot to cool and can be adjusted by diverting hoses. Due to a lack of maintenance, the water in pools looks cloudy. You can brush walls of the small tubs, but walls and floors of two big pools stay slippery and slimy that indicates algae and bacteria growth.
Though Oregon has a lot of hot springs, thanks to its volcanic activities, but there aren't many of them available for public use in close proximity to the most populous cities of the state such as Portland, Eugene, and Salem. Since Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs is located one hour drive away from Salem and Portland, this site is overused and abused. Some visitors leave glass and plastic bottles, cans, papers, and dirty towels. Please Leave No Trace behind! Pack out all trash. If you have an extra bag and see trash that someone has left, please pick it up and get it out. It would help to keep this amazing site safe and clean.
May 2023 Update. After devastating wildfire of 2020 which burned the forest around Breitenbush Hot Springs, access to the lower part of the springs became difficult and dangerous. There is still risk of falling trees and debris along the trail. However, the good news is all pools and tubs are retained.
Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs | General Description
Managed by: US Forest Service
Location: Willamette National Forest
Activities: Soaking & hiking
Accommodations: No posted restrictions for overnight camping, do not camp within 100 feet of the hot springs
Distance from the parking: 0.5 mile
Road Access: Any vehicle, chains are required from November 1st to April 1st
Day-use fees: None
Popularity: Moderate to High
Elevation: 2,160 ft (658 m)
Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs is located:
- 10 miles northeast of Detroit
- 62 miles east of Salem
- 107 miles southeast of Portland.
Directions to Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs
From I-5 in Salem,
- Take exit 253 and travel 48 miles east on Highway 22 toward Detroit
- Turn left onto Highway 46 (Breitenbush Road) and drive for about 9 miles to NF-2231
- Turn right, cross the bridge, then turn left
- Continue 1 mile on NF-890 to the trailhead on the left.
Friends of the Breitenbush Cascades partners with the United States Forest Service and SOLVE for cleanups at Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs and is working on a proposal to rejuvenate Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs.
Friends of the Breitenbush Cascades is a state nonprofit formed in 1988. It's mission:
a. To increase the public's understanding of the natural resources, scenic beauty, plant and animal diversity, and ecological integrity of the Breitenbush River and surrounding public lands;
b. To promote its sound management and conservation of its resources by government agencies;
c. To increase the government's responsiveness to the interests and needs of the public.
Friends of the Breitenbush Cascades https://www.facebook.com/
Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs https://www.facebook.com/