Deer, Fox and Moose
The lower pool submerges during spring runoff, but the upper pool
evades because of tall mortar
reinforced walls, which are high enough to resist the seasonally rampant
creek. Sometimes during winter a 4x4 vehicle is required to traverse the
last leg of the Warm Lake Highway... especially for
accessing the pullout area. The Warm Lake HWY on occasion is subject to
closure during severe winter weather.
There is ample, level campsites
with fire rings slightly above the springs and below the pullout. Be
prepared to share if it's even the slightest bit warm outside. Other
Boise National Forest camping areas and campground are nearby, as is
Warm Lake and a variety of other hot springs.
Mid September 2012 -
Superb! No trash, amazing soaks, friendly people. Couldn't ask for
06.22.11 & 06.23.11
The upper pool was in great shape while the lower pool was submerged
by Trail Creek's spring runoff.
On the 22nd, we ran into a
local Church Camp with 10-15 younger girls and 3-4 staff that were
allowing the girls to wash their hair with shampoo directly in the
pool!! You could see the murky water emanate from the pool and go
straight into the river. *sigh* My soaking partner dropped some kind
knowledge on the girls while a couple of the adult staff looked on.
After hearing about how any kind of shampoo (yes, even
biodegradable) doesn't breakdown in the river and creates a fungus
that is harmful for the fish and subsequent humans and animals that
eat the fish - true story - the girls seemed resigned to not use
shampoo in a stream or hot springs again.
To be honest, when I
started out years ago I thought that bio-soap must be AOK. Until a
favorite former Payette National Forest Ranger (thanks Jeff! the
Payette misses you!) schooled me. All in all, this situation was a
win win. Hopefully, that church camp, which has been visiting Trail
Creek multiple times each year for years, will treat nature with a
little more respect. On another note, I sincerely doubt that the
parents of the young ladies would appreciate their children being
shuttled around in the back of a pickup truck, completely unsecured,
while traveling along a notorious dangerous mountain highway.
We shared TC with Aaron on
a separate visit, a friendly avid hot springer that was a lot of fun
to swap stories with and meet. We all bolted once a huge family with
many children came down and pushed us along. Three people was just
about right for Trail Creek's only usable pool, but 6-8 more mostly
wild young children was a bust for us old school soakers. There
should be some measure of etiquette when there is only one pool to
soak in instead of hoping to get the others to leave because of the
'our group is larger than yours' type of mentality. Regardless, the
people were friendly and we had already enjoyed a nice long soak. I
was very happy about the general lack of trash around the pools,
surrounding area and parking pullout. Well done fellow soakers, well
What a mess!
See the video... sadly, this was the worst condition I've ever
seen this area in.
I can't believe it has been almost 1 year since I was last here.
Both of Trail Creek's pools are in excellent condition; deeper, new
siphon hoses, wood palette and adjustable temperatures. I was
actually shocked to arrive and find the pullout empty. That could be
because the Warm Lake Highway is under construction and the number
of pullouts has vastly multiplied.
soak was enjoyed until a bunch of hunters pulled-in. They left their
rig running, climbed down the trail, after their attempt at hiding
behind trees and spying failed, and made their way down the trail to
the pools. After milling about for a spell, walking past trash that
I later would dispose of, they finally left. They probably spent a
few bucks in gas on their little adventure.
after the hunters left a couple from Minnesota arrived, followed by
yet another couple from Boise and finally a guy who just hung out in
his truck. The brief, uninterrupted soak was stellar, but too much
traffic for my liking.
If I could put a title on this visit it would be "The Best of One
World and the Worst of Another". The 2 pools are in the best
condition I've ever seen them in, and I've never seen more trash
here before. Both pools feature plumbing upgrades with the uppermost
pool sporting a shiny valve; allowing for cold water intake control
I.E. temperature control. The top pool clocked in between 105 and
107, the lower pool 109 to 112. Both pools have been dug further
out, have had mortar reinforcement/repairs and have new/upgraded
plumbing. I would have rated this soak A+ all the way but the surge
in trash alarmed me; glass and can beer containers were sticking out
of Trail Creek, beer and pop cans were smashed and tucked under
rocks in the creek, little tea candles were all over the place, cig
buts everywhere and even trash in the pool... nice. I know this
place sees a lot of traffic, but the usual soaker around here is
fairly environmentally conscience. These places are so rare,
polluting them with trash is disrespectful to the environment,
wildlife and other hot springers. Please pick up all trash you come
across wherever you go.
The lower pool was submerged upon arrival and the creek overrun with
fast moving water, which made it difficult to find a way across to
the intact upper pool. Be careful during spring runoff, the water is
freezing and is moving fast. The upper pool was a stellar soak as
usual, my biggest beef was all of the trash. All in all not a bad
trip, wait until the creek calms a bit before fording - dangerous
The roads were in pretty good condition save for the last few snow covered
miles before the hot springs pullout. We arrived to find a Nissan
Pathfinder and an older Alaskan Malamute in the pullout. Hmmm.
Friend or foe? When we advanced toward the trail he started growling
at us. I didn't figure out what was going on until moving closer to
the trail... he was protecting his master and his master's lady
friend. Both of which were in a snow cave shelter. Great idea to
camp right next to the trail at a popular roadside hot springs when
you have a protective dog... I mean, really! They could have at
least called him in. I don't know if they heard him growling or not
(he was near the cave when doing so), but I know for sure they heard
the truck pull up and doors shut. I was glad I didn't have my dog
with me; it would have been fun trying to hike to the hot springs
with her while we may or may have not gotten hassled by the other
The soaking was killer!
And, the icing on the cake was the lack of trash. Both pools were in
great shape, and a smart soaker(s) had put up a guide rope to ease
the slippery decent to the hot springs from the pullout above. There
is a new man-made bridge over Trail Creek, and the 1st pools has
received additional improvements since my last visit. Here's a tip:
check the temperature before you soak. Before we
left I checked out the cave shelter - despite being too
close to the trail it was well-designed, textbook all the way. They
picked up all of their trash except for a burnt-down tea candle.
It was a slow drive in
thanks to thick fog and semi-slick roads, but well worth it. The
Warm Lake Highway was in pretty good shape save for a few sections
of road coated in crusty snow and slick ice. After parking, we slid
down the icy path from the pullout to the hot springs - I nearly
forgot to stop before the creek because of what caught my eye. The
old rock pool (#1) had been upgraded... it is now much larger; width
and pool depth have substantially increased along with the water
temperature. Cold water intake and outtake valves and plumbing allow
for a controllable, variable soaking temperature much like the
design of the 2nd pool. Both pools were HOT upon arrival, between
114º and 116º respectively. We adjusted a couple valves and
eventually tempered the tepid water to a perfect 104º. After that it
was relax time. The only trash found was someone's discarded thermal
Whew! The highest point on the Warm Lake Highway between Cascade and
Trail Creek nearly did us in! There was roughly 30 miles of so of
snow covered road with at least 6in on the ground and counting - no
plows either thanks to it being Easter today. This was also one of
the few times I neglected to bring tire chains. Obviously, we made
it through, but it was a bit sketchy. Once in the pullout, we
literally slid down the hill to the hot springs. The 1st pool we
came across was in disrepair; the water cold, walls leaky and
goobers aplenty. The 2nd, larger pool was also in disrepair. It was
only half full of approximately 95º water with all of the
intake/outtake pipes plugged. It seemed the mortar reinforced pool
was leaking. I truly hope this is a result of it not being used for
awhile and not the opposite as this hot springs sees more than its
fair share of visitors. For the first time at Trail Creek a soak was
not to be had.
Great road and pullout conditions along with no other soakers. We
did see a car in the pullout on our way out of the area at dusk. The
trial from the pullout down to the pools was quite slick, be very
careful! The 1st pool looked like it has received little attention
since the summer months and the 2nd pool looked and felt great.
We enjoyed a brief afternoon soak on our way out of the area after a
backpacking trip. The pools and surrounding area looked well-kept
despite showing signs of heavy use. The nearby campsites had recent
fires but were clean save for the occasional beer can/cig butt. It
was getting hot out so we kept our soak short before continuing on
to Cascade. Excellent!
We arrived in the evening well after dusk to enjoy a soak in the
rarely unoccupied Trail Creek Hot Springs. It only lasted for about
a half-hour before a group of drunk teenagers from Boise showed up.
They, at least, were friendly. I was angered to find out that they
were here because Skinnydipper was now closed at night - they needed
a new hot springs to party at. After a few minutes we cut our soak
short and headed off. I really doubt that any of them will be sober
enough to pick up all of the beer cans/bottles they hauled down.
Just when I thought TC couldn't get any better... the 1st pool is now
larger and deeper and the 2nd pool is deeper. Someone has been busy!
Excellent soak as usual.
Another fantastic trip to TC! The road was a tad icy, and made me wonder
if Warm Springs Highway is even drivable as the winter months progress.
This is the only time of the year you can visit TC and enjoy the pool by
yourself. The only abnormality about this trip was that a couple live
bullets were found on a ledge right next to the pool.
Now this is the way to enjoy November! The pullout showed tracks of
other fellow hot springers although none were sighted this trip. 1 cig
butt and 1 beer can were found and removed... which is great considering
the amount of trash found last time.
This stop wasn't in the game plan, but we changed our mind after driving
by Trail Creek's empty pullout off the Warm Lake Highway out of Cascade,
ID. It was an awesome, stellar soak. The larger of the two pools is
equipped with 2 cold water intake plugs, 1 drain plug, 1 moveable
plastic pipe that feeds the pool with hot water (naturally siphoned from
the source above the 1st pool) and more hot water is fed through the
pool's sandy bottom. You are in full control of your ideal soaking
temperature here folks, and changing the temperature only takes a matter
of minutes. TC is large, clean and typically sees a lot of action. We
awoke in the morning to a steady (but low) amount of traffic to and from
the pools starting at 7am.
Way-cool pools located just below a highway. Be prepared to share with
others as this HS is frequented often during all times of the year. It's
quite rare to see the pullout empty. Regardless, you at least should sit
in this once in your lifetime... then continue on down the road and take
your pick from many other scenic HS that are much less used than TC HS
is. We lucked out (again!) and had this to ourselves (it was early in
the am). But, as we were leaving, an RV with a few campers was setting
up stake on the plateau just below the pullout and above the pools.
Lots of visitors day and night... less trash than my last visit
No vehicles in the pullout around noon on the way in, 3 large trucks
in the pullout on the way out.
Slamma-Jamma! The pullout was almost full!
08.03.06 (PM) & 08.06.06 (AM)
On the 3rd, there was 5 vehicles in the pullout, and on the 6th,
there was one camper in the pullout.
On our way back from hiking and soaking in and around Buckhorn Hot
Springs we noticed 8 vehicles (!!) in the pullout... plus there
looked to be a bunch of people playing volleyball in the pullout as
well.... wow! I've never seen that many people here before!
On our way to Buckhorn Trailhead we noticed a car and a truck in the
pullout, however the truck was leaving.
On our way out of the area in the mid afternoon there were 5 vehicles in
There were 7 vehicles in TC's pullout when driving by in the late
afternoon. TC usually sees a steady flow of summer visitors, but this was
more than expected. It was primarily due to the salmon running on the
South Fork Salmon River.
No visitors on our way to
Mile 16 HS, 1 couple leaving TC on our way back.