To protect raccoons, bears and
other wildlife, all food, garbage and scented items must be secured
from all wildlife 24 hours a day. If staying overnight; all food,
garbage and scented items must be hoisted to keep it from Bears and
Dogs are not allowed on any trails in the Olympic National Park,
they are only allowed in select campgrounds while on-leash (strictly
Nearest campground: Altaire/Elwha (5
miles from trail head). There are 2 camping sites near the
hot springs for backpackers, one even features a pit toilet.
My first time in the Olympic National Park proved to be an excellent
experience. The goal was to visit Olympic Hot Springs just after the
8 feet of snow melted and road barriers were pushed back, and before
the continuous wave of geo-soakers hit the NP and hot springs for
the warmer season. The timing of my soaking party's arrival couldn't
have been any better.
As we hiked toward the hot springs
through the lush and vibrant green forest we passed a group of
5 on their way out. They had spent a couple nights at the hot
springs and had the whole place to themselves. The hike along the
slightly elevated old, paved forest service road was fairly easy.
The only problem is that the trail was washed out in 3 places. The
first required a slight walk-around to a fallen tree and a dip-route
through a huge broken stump. The 2nd had a semi-narrow earth bridge,
and 3rd a single log bridge with handrail.
Snow only slightly came into play on the
hike in. We encountered about a foot within the last quarter mile of
the hot springs. At most, there was about 2 feet on the ground at
the backpacker campsites, which are located just before the bridge
that leads to the hot springs. The trail itself was worn enough for
easy passage without the need for snowshoes, albeit a bit icy.
The hot springs, ahh yes... the hot
springs. They were awesome. I tracked down 6 total pools, 4 soakable
(the others too hot and goober laden). The water felt great, and
having the whole place to ourselves was amazing. Full-qualification
of all 4 pools could be had. It's muddy around the pools, and to
combat this there are many mats nearby. Although, the mats are
fairly gross after heavy use. Here's a tip: stand on a trash bag.
When you're done (changing/soaking) put trash in the bag and haul it
off utilitarian style.
There was a slight sulfur odor at each
of the pools, along with some algae stemming from lack of use over
the winter break. The water was near clear, and the pool
temperatures ranged from 98º to 104º. On the hike back out we passed
17 soakers! Once back at the car 3 additional vehicles arrived while
we ate a late lunch. Good timing indeed.