Well, the springs are still there . . . and so is the original Monster Tub, now subdivided down the center into two soaking polls. The question I hear most often is ‘I’d like to go back to the springs but can I?’
The answer is a conditional ‘yes’. The property is posted . . . why? Because the owner must limit his liability. But you need to read between the lines here. I’ve known Mike for some time and I know that his greatest joy is seeing people enjoy the hot springs. But Mike is the owner and that legally constrains him. There are still legal and practical issues that prevent him from publicly stating an open invitation to the springs. So a visit really is on the ‘sly’. As long as you are respectful of the property and the nearby Forest Service property, there is unlikely anyone who will chalenge your visit to the springs. A few regulars (like myself who are helping Mike) may remind you of the No Trespassing signs with a wink of the eye, but all in all, a visit to Scenic Hot Spring should not be a paranoid, cast an eye over your shoulder type visit.
The Sheriff’s Department and FS Rangers have gone onto the property at least once since the beginning of this year but that was to investigate a potential fire. The Deputy merely noted the few people busy hiking their way up the BPA road but didn’t forbid or warn anyone. Part of this is because the FS road and the BPA Access Road are for most parts on Forest Service Land and it is legal to be there. The deputy doesn’t have the time or resources to go all the way to the top and catch people physically on the spring’s private property.
The other reason is that there is a sort of unwritten understanding that as long as there are no more major problems up at Scenic, the KC Sheriff’s department really doesn’t want to butt in. They know a transformation is taking place and that the wilder elements are gone. So whether the deputy gets involved and has to make all that effort to get up to the springs is highly contiguent on there being no problems up there. A wait and see attitude.
Which brings us to the conditions. The FS road is gated and will remain so until development of a parking lot is done. DO NOT slip a motorbike around the gate. They are not allowed. There is limited parking just before that gate . . . perhaps six or seven cars. Don’t even think about parking in front of the gate and blocking it . . . you will be towed if the owner or myself are blocked in.
Don’t even think of parking along Highway 2 (either on the shoulders or in the chain-up areas). Likewise, you will be towed and in the process, bring undue attention on Scenic. There is limited parking down near the RR tracks (the SnoPark and Surprise Lake Trailheads) from where you can hike up. Note, you need either a SnoPark pass or a NW Forest pass to park in these areas.
Be aware that acts of vandalism are way down on the parked cars. Perhaps that is because of the lesser use of the area and perhaps because the vandals have gone on to easier pickings. In any case, secure your vehicle and DO NOT LEAVE ANYTHING VALUABLE sitting in plain view.
The hike is a mile or so up the FS road past the gate to the open BPA corridor. there is a bypass trail but hard to find unless you know specifically what to look for (hint: look for the footprints).
Once in the BPA corridor under the power lines, hike the gravel road on off to the left and up. Again, there is another bypass and footprints give it away . . . if you are looping back down, you have already passed the bypass. Continue hiking up the BPA road through the loops and switchbacks and up along the towers. Just short of the end there is a widened trail/road to the right going up into the trees. This is the trailhead and trail up to the springs, themselves. This trail has been widened for about a third of the way up. You should be crossing several log water barriers that we emplaced last year to control erosion. The first stream you step over is the Honeymoon Stream and if you look up the slope about 80 ft to your left, you will see the Honeymoon Pool fed by a spring averaging 80-90degF. The trail becomes wet and muddy, the resulting runoff from the Meadows creek area where again to the left is a clear area with lots of hot spring seepages. Soon after this, the trail narrows and the difficult part of the hike begins.
You cross another creek. This one is the runoff from the main hot springs far above. Right up ahead, the trail continues to the left and upslope while an old logging road Y’s to the right. Stay on the narrow trail, always heading uphill.
There was a lot of erosion because of the early meltoff and this section is rough on the footing . . . so step carefully. It is also steep in parts. Eventually you reach the one and only switchback . . . it obvious, to the left and uphill, but not as steep now. You are close.
Follow through this canopied bench area. In another hundred feet or so you will find yourself looking down on the springs and pools. make your way down the granite boulders (there are steps cut into the hardpan). You are there.
Please respect the place and show the springs reverence. Read my article on Hot Springs Etiquette here
No DOGS! or any pets!
No boomboxes or loud partying. No rough-housing. No sexually-aggressive actions.
Keep the alcohol really low key . . . keep the damn glass bottles away from the tubs. Keep the drugs off this property, period. Several of us who work with Mike have the legal authority to throw you off the property and the Sheriff’s Deputy will be there to meet you halfway back down if necessary (cell phone’s do work up at the springs).
Keep the place clean . . . take out your trash with you . . . in fact, take out more.
There are a lot of ‘no’s’ but one big ‘yes’. Enjoy the springs.