Breitenbush Hot Springs is a series of geothermal springs along the Breitenbush River in the Willamette National Forest. Managed by the USDA Forest Service, Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs is located 600 feet downstream of the Breitenbush Hot Springs Retreat and Conference Center.
The hot mineral-rich water on the banks of the Breitenbush River is revered for its curative and rejuvenating properties. The hot springs have been used by local residents and travelers since the time this site was discovered in the 1840s.
In the 1910s, Mark Skiff from Salem received a permit from the Forest Service to use the lower hot springs 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 the upper and the lower hot springs properties. The upper hot springs were 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 the 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 and leads to the 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. Do not 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 source water is up to 150°F (65°C). 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, generally, the mineral water is 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, 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.
Lower Breitenbush Hot Springs | General Description
Managed: US Forest Service
Location: Willamette National Forest
Service: No services are available
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
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
- 110 miles northeast of Eugene
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/