Olympic Hot Springs Trail

Olympic National Park

Wilderness hot springs deep in the forest, near a tumbling creek, and with backcountry camping nearby.

Hiking Easy

Distance
27 km
Ascent
1.1 km
Descent
1.1 km
Duration
7-8 hrs
Low Point
121 m
High Point
666 m
Gradient
11˚
Olympic Hot Springs Trail Map

These natural hot springs are tucked in the fragrant evergreen forest of the Elwha River Valley. They require only a little bit of work to reach, in the form of a drive into Olympic National Park and a hike into a wilderness area. They are quite popular and space in the pools is limited, so try to go early in the morning or on a weekday if you want the best choice of a spot to soak. Note also that these springs are clothing optional. There is a backcountry campground nearby, available to backpackers with a wilderness permit.

Description

The hike begins from Boulder Creek trailhead on Olympic Hot Springs Road. The trail is actually an old road, with the pavement removed and replaced with mulch and dirt. So it’s quite wide and not steep, making an easy and quick hike to the destination. Go at a leisurely pace to enjoy the varieties of trees, ferns, and mosses that coat the hillsides along the way.

Nearing the pools, the trail narrows a bit and crosses two footbridges, both over creeks with small waterfalls. Across the second bridge the hot spring pools appear, and a faint smell of sulfur fills the forest. There are several pools scattered around, some are obvious from the trail and others are more tucked away. All are rather small and shallow, with room for just a few people to sit comfortably. The temperatures vary, so you may want to test a few pools to find the perfect one.

These pools are maintained only by users, not by the national park, so it’s important to do your part to keep them nice. Do not move rocks that hold the sides of the pools in place, and be gentle with the surrounding vegetation so that you don’t worsen erosion. And of course, always pack out your trash and try to leave the place better than you found it. Hot springs are a fragile, limited resource that need care from everyone who uses them.

Note: As of April 2021, Olympic Hot Springs Road is closed at Madison Falls parking lot, about 8 miles from the Boulder Creek trailhead. Part of the road washed out, so it’s closed to vehicles but bicycles and walking are still allowed.

Sources: https://www.nps.gov/olym/hot-springs.htm https://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/olympic-hot-springs

Difficulty

Easy

Walking along a well-kept trail that’s mostly flat. No obstacles are present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Features

  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Guidebooks in this area