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Goldbug Hot Springs is a beautiful natural hot spring in Idaho. After a short and moderate hike of 2 miles, you’ll reach cascading waterfalls and multiple natural hot spring pools where you can have a soak and relax!
This post we’ll cover:
- trailhead info
- details about the hike
- camping options
- the best time of year to go
- what to pack on the hike
Goldbug Hot Springs Trailhead
The Goldbug Hot Spring trailhead is located South of Salmon, Idaho near mile marker 282 on Highway 93.
You’ll turn onto a short dead-end dirt road and drive about 0.3 miles to the trailhead at the end of the road. There are private homes along the dirt road. At the trailhead, you’ll see a few parking spots.
Goldbug Hot Springs Hike Trail Details
- Length: 4 miles round trip
- Elevation Gain: 928 feet
- Difficulty: easy to moderate
- Permits Needed: No
This is a short well-traveled hike to beautiful natural hot springs in the mountains in Idaho.
When you get to the dead-end road and park your car, you’ll see the trail starting on your right. There’s a pit toilet at the trailhead.
The first 1/4 mile of the Goldbug hot spring hike is on private property.
You’ll start the hike with a short climb up the side of a hill and then the trail is pretty easy and mostly flat until you get closer to the end.
The hike has 928 ft of elevation gain, most of which is on the last 1/2 mile of the hike.
As you get close to the hot springs you’ll start to see small waterfalls on your left. It’s so beautiful even though this section of the trail is rocky and steep.
Keep hiking up a few built-in wooded stairs on the trail until you see a bridge.
From the bridge, you can look down towards the way you came and you’ll see the main hot spring pool right below.
Once you cross the bridge and hike down to the main hot spring pool you’ll see a little bench to put your backpack and towel on.
The hike took us about 1 hour to get to the hot spring.
I saw at least 3 hot spring pools that you could swim in, but I think there’s more. It might be worth exploring and hiking up even higher to check it out.
Different hot spring pools have different temperatures too!
Generally, the lower the pool, the cooler the water.
This area is beautiful and the water is surprisingly clean and clear. I’ve been to some hot springs where the water isn’t nearly as clear. This one was lovely!
Despite what the photos might lead you to believe, this is not a secluded area. Expect a lot of other people to be around the hot spring. This is a very popular spot.
According to Nick’s watch, the water was about 100°F, but of course, this temperature will probably fluctuate throughout the year.
There’s camping along the trail, and we saw quite a few backpackers heading up the trail for the night when we were coming down.
Campsites must be at least 500 feet from the hot spring.
There are also campgrounds nearby on Highway 93. The Salmon River Campground and the Elk Bend RV Park are closeby options.
Best Time of Year to Go
In the Summer months, the air is hot and dry. Sitting in a hot spring isn’t as appealing if you’re hot and sweaty from the hike in.
The Fall is one of the best times to go because the temperature outside is moderate and the snow hasn’t arrived yet!
In the Winter, while the hike in through deep snow will be more difficult and require additional gear, the reward of sitting in a hot spring surrounded by snow is hard to beat!
In the Spring, temperatures are going to be moderate again, but the trail will likely be snowy and muddy as things thaw out from the winter months.
This hike can be done year-round, it just depends on the conditions you’re willing to deal with along the way.
I went in the late summer, and while I was hot hiking in, I still found the springs to be comfortable to soak in and relax!
What to Pack on the Hike
The following packing list is for a day hike in the Summer or Fall. If hiking in other seasons, or camping along the way, you’ll need additional gear.
- backpack – I use the Osprey Sirrus
- water and water reservoir
- Sawyer Squeeze water filter – I highly recommend this as a way to get more drinking water along the hike
- hiking clothing appropriate for the weather
- additional clothing layers in case the weather changes
- bathing suit
- towel – like this packable microfiber towel
- hiking shoes
- the 10 essentials
- GPS and a backup map and compass
Hiking to Goldbug Hot Springs is a beautiful and fun outdoor adventure!
There’s nothing like getting to relax and soak in a natural hot spring surrounded by mountains and waterfalls.
If you have any questions as you’re planning your hike, just ask me in the comments below.