Paulina Lake Hot Springs consists of numerous thermal springs emerging from the bottom of the Paulina Lake. Most of the hot springs are secured by the lake and mixed with its cold water. Fortunately, there are a few hot springs on the north shoreline of Paulina Lake, accessible by foot or boat.
Paulina Lake is one of two alpine lakes nestled in Newberry Caldera. A large volcanic Newberry crater is one of the most active geothermal areas in the United States. As a result of past volcano activities, the caldera was created hundreds of thousands years ago, when overlying volcano's rocks collapsed. The second lake of the Newberry Caldera, East Lake is located 2 miles east of Paulina. East Lake also has hot springs on its shore, known as East Lake Hot Springs.
On the shore, you can find five or more man-made pools along the quarter-mile length gravel Hot Springs Beach. Some of the pools are reinforced by logs. The hot springs bubble up from the depth through the black and red volcanic gravel.
In early spring, when water has the highest level, the hot springs on the beach are submerged with the lake and become exposed only when the water level drops. The best time to visit Paulina Lake Hot Springs is May through July when the soaking pools have enough water to cover a bather. When the water level in the lake is the lowest, the hot spring pools don't have enough water even for feet soaking.
The actual temperature of the water depends on the time of year and varies between 90 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature of the source located directly out of the ground has been reported as high as 176 degrees Fahrenheit. The geothermal water has no smell of sulfur.
According to USDA Forest Service, because this is a riparian zone, you should use existing soaking pools, new pools digging is not allowed.
Camping and fires are prohibited on the Hot Springs Beach.
Hiking to Paulina Lake Hot Springs
Hot Springs Spur Trail
A part of the Paulina Lake Trail and the shortest way to access the hot springs is a two-mile stroll along the east shore of the Paulina Lake from the trailhead at the farthest end of Little Crater Campground.
Paulina Lake Trail
The 7.5-mile loop trail from Paulina Lake Campground around the Paulina Lake offers a truly unique hike. You will enjoy picturesque views, green water of the lake, the Big Obsidian lava flow, exotic plants, and bubbling hot springs.
Paulina Lake Hot Springs | General Description
Open: May - mid-October from sunrise to sunset
Managed: US Forest Service
Location: Newberry Caldera
Services: No services are available
Activities: Soaking, hiking, boating, fishing
Clothing: Swimsuits would be handy
No camping near the hot springs
Little Crater Campground, Paulina Lake Campground, Paulina Lake Lodge
Distance from the parking: 2 miles
Road Access: Any vehicle to the trailhead
Day-use fees: Yes or Recreation Passes
Elevation: 6,350 ft (1,935 m)
Paulina Lake Hot Springs is located:
- 19 miles east of La Pine
- 39 miles southeast of Bend
- 131 miles east of Eugene
- 200 miles southeast of Portland.
Directions to Paulina Lake Hot Springs
- Travel approximately 23 miles south onto US 97 to Paulina East Lake Road
- Turn left onto Paulina East Road and drive 14 miles east to the sign Little Crater Campground
- Turn left onto Little Crater Campground Road and travel to the end of the road (the Paulina Lake Hot Springs Trailhead).
From the trailhead at Little Crater Campground, hike 2.3-mile the Paulina Lakeshore Loop Trail.
GPS (Hot Springs): N 43°43.920' W 121°15.102' | 43.732, -121.2517
GPS (Trailhead): N 43°43.084' W 121°14.485' | 43.7181, -121.2414
Points of Interest Nearby
Paulina Lake is one of two deep mountain lakes inside Newberry Caldera, within the boundaries of Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
There are over 100 miles of trails within the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. The trail can be used for horseback riding, mountain biking, and in winter for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.