Deer, Elk, Monarch Butterflies (tons) & Bats (tons)
Accessible all year - note Warm Lake HWY traveling during winter
will require a 4x4 to get though safely. Winter trail travel will
There's 2 large campsites, more
than likely setup by hunters, that are located next to the main
trail (the trail leading down to the hot springs emanates from the 2
campsites). Plus, there is a smaller, but very plush campsite on the
border of the meadow roughly 50 yards from the pool on an island cut
by Buckhorn Creek. There is also plenty of Boise and Payette National
Forest camping nearby.
Trip Reports, Accessibility and Usage
Buckhorn was tough to reach on this trip because of the last blast
of spring runoff. The hike up was beautiful, chock full of vibrant
butterflies. The trail was rutted out near stream crossings and
sharp inclines thanks to trail bike and mountain bike enthusiasts.
The outfitter/hunter camps were a nightmare. Someone was just up
here and left quite a mess indeed... I was furious. There was crap
everywhere! Almost all of it was primarily concentrated at the main
outfitter camp. I notified the National Forest Law Enforcement, Jeff
Higgley, of the situation upon returning. I found out that he'd
already been working on it. That's why I like Jeff, he's a good
steward of the land and a great example of how you would hope all
public land personnel would be.
I also found out that
they have been having an increasing problem with the majority of
hunters and anglers. It was about the same kind of thing I run into
all of the time - most impact the environment in irreversible ways -
like trying to drive their 'rig' in as far as possible. God forbid
they leave a light footprint and actually hike in without motorized
assistance. We agreed that his father and my grandfather would be
rolling in their graves (as both were hunters and anglers that
respected the land) in regard to hunters and anglers of this day.
I've seen coked-up hunting parties, drunk hunters driving around on
ORVs at 3am shooting off their shotguns in the air, backpacking
campsites trashed with angler garbage, signs/doors/fee boxes shot up
by hunters and more. Respect the land or leave.
After dropping down to
Buckhorn Creek and fording on a fallen tree to the meadow campsite I
was greeted by views of a submerged meadow. Runoff was raging, and
as such was covering the majority of the meadow in fast moving
water. After much exploration another fallen tree was found upstream
that provided passage across to the hot springs. Note: after making
the crossing, I decided that it wasn't such a great idea to go after
Bucky during runoff - too risky, one slip off the tree and the
chances surviving the frigid, strong currents would be slim.
The pool was
loaded up with algae, although I didn't recognize any horse fly
larva that I've heard rumors about. The stand-up shower was better
than I remembered... hotter too. Nothing like a hot geo-shower
overlooking a sunken meadow and raging creek during a warm spring
Not much new to report since we were here just 2 days ago (see below
briefing). The shower was great after miles of hiking
and nightly rain and thunder storms. A curious deer spent some time observing us between
storms in the meadow bordering the hot springs. This time we camped in one of the hunter camps near the
trail. Plenty of biting horse and deer flies during the breaks
between the rain.
My friend and I stopped here on our first night of a 4-day
backpacking trip to Buckhorn Lake. It looked like my other friend
and I might have been the last ones here back in June (see briefing
below) judging by how the area looked (sweet!). On our way up we came across
a couple of mountain bikers ISO Buckhorn Hot Springs. They actually
passed us, waited near junctions and then followed and past us again until we caught up with them on their
way back down. He had given up and she wanted to continue
with us, in the end they both gave up despite help offered by my
friend and I. The pool had not been used for some time, probably
because the cold creek nearby was dry that split off of the West
Fork Buckhorn Creek. That cold water is
desperately needed to
temper the hot pool. The shower however, was in
excellent shape. It was a nice reprieve from all the cold rain.
06.12.04 & 06.13.04
We were worried when arrived at the trailhead parking lot Friday
night, it was packed! 5 out of 7 vehicles were from Canada, and
nearly everyone was fishing over the bridge save for the people from
the 2 other vehicles. We camped .25 miles south of the bridge in a
campsite slightly off the main FSR. We actually found a rusty animal
snare that looked like it was from the 20s. My friend almost
stepped in it when he was exploring the area. Oh yes, the snare was
set and probably would have broken his foot or ankle.
We parked at the
trailhead in the morning and found only 1 vehicle left from the
night before. Just before leaving our campsite we talked with a
couple rangers about the hot springs and hike. They told us that not
too many people hike the trail, and that the majority use trail
bikes as transportation to and from Buckhorn Lake and do not know of
or how to find the hot springs. Naturally, we were stoked to hear
It was a brutal hike,
especially with air temps in the high 80s. It didn't help that we
took a wrong turn at the second trail junction just under a mile
from the trailhead. 3 miles later, after climbing shortly under 1000
feet, we finally realized our error and subsequently backtracked to
our junction. We then took the correct trail up the mountain another
1000 feet for just over 5 miles to some outfitter campsites. The
campsites contained shelves built into tress, large fire pits, log
seats with backs, horse ties, a cooler full of propane bottles and
other crap, a couple tarps, a large plastic bucket and some other
From the campsites we
took a tiny trail down to Buckhorn Creek and crossed on fallen
timber to another campsite situated on an island cut by the same
creek. Just 50 yards or so upstream were the 4 hot springs sources,
a stand-up shower and a 12x8x2.5 ft pool... loaded with algae
goobers (that were easily removed via bucket).
Navigation was tricky.
The GPS coordinates I picked up online were all off, USGS had
miss-marked the hot springs and one of the guide books I had also
listed incorrect directions. They all seemed to lead to
something .5 miles past the real deal.
It should be noted that
the trail to Buckhorn Lake used to be a Forest Service Road.
However, the aftermath of the Clear Creek Fire left the road buried
under tons of rocks and mud. The Forest Service has since replaced the road with a trail.
The pool was hot!
Luckily I brought my trusty collapsible bucket and there was another
bucket in one of the outfitter campsites that helped cool off the
pool enough for some serious soaking. Ironically, the whole time we
were there we
wished we had brought some plastic hoses/tubes/pipe to bring in cold water from the
creek, moments before we left my friend found a pile of hoses behind
a tree near the pool.
My favorite buddies, the
Red Spider Mites, were sadly present at this hot springs. Although
in much lower numbers than the other afflicted hot springs like
Bear Valley. I left with only
3 or 4 bites, not too bad.
We passed a few trail
bikes to and from Buckhorn, and while we were camped we could hear
the bikes buzzing to and from the nearby lake. All things
considered, Buckhorn was still pretty dang awesome.