Wildlife Sighted: Deer,
Accessible all year - dirt
forest access road is not plowed during winter; access on horseback or
There is plenty of Boise National
Forest camping nearby along with some great primitive sites near
the trailhead. Trailhead camping features a pit toilet, around 5 to
10 nice primitive sites, tons of trash, legions of ATVs and is
extremely popular. Avoiding the crowds here means coming during the
off season. I.E. not summer. Note: the entire surrounding area and
all along FSR 474 South have been closed to public use in 2008 and
2009 due to wildfire restoration. Check with the Boise National
Forest before heading into the area.
As of June 2010, the pit
toilet and primitive campground have been removed by the forest
service due to wildfire restoration efforts. A new pit toilet is
in-place on the opposite side of the road from the old toilet and
trailhead to Vulcan. There are currently only a couple small
pullouts available for parking. The trailhead sign to Vulcan is not
visible from the road.
Trip Reports, Accessibility and Usage
*sigh* I still love visiting this area (I loved soaking in Vulcan
more). Sadly, the days of enjoying a long hot soak in one of Idaho's
largest hot springs pools are gone. All of the primitive camping
sites near the trailhead are gone, replaced by RV and toy-hauler
parking spots next to the newish outhouse across the road from the
trailhead. There are no longer options for tent camping as the FS
has clearly tailored this area for toy-haulers and RVs. The closest
primitive camping sites are further down 474 south (1-2 miles).
Nothing new to report in regard to a soakable pool. Clearly,
attempts (emphasis on attempts) have been made. It is hard to
believe that one of Idaho's largest natural pools once existed here.
The main pool is currently caved-in, and filled to the brim with
sludge and slit due to a wildfire that ripped through this area a
couple years ago. I suspect greedy soakers making attempts at
enlarging the pool also had an affect. The log damn is still in
place, and with some serious elbow grease this pool could be back in
No more trailhead primitive camping and a new pit toilet! Due to
wildfire restoration efforts, the forest service has constructed a
new pit toilet on the opposite side of the road from the trailhead
to Vulcan. Primitive camping and spacious parking - all gone.
of mines accessible from the same access road have re-opened, where
miner campgrounds are less than a mile from the Vulcan trailhead.
Extra vehicle traffic coupled with moderate road construction made
for a long, dusty journey.
One of the
three bridges en-route on the hike to Vulcan was recently replaced
along with new trailhead and trail junction signage. The stark
contrast of the blackened forest verses the crisp, fresh green
undergrowth was a sight to behold.
of the trail between bridge one and two was completely submerged (see
and made for a tricky crossing to reach the second bridge. On the
hike to Vulcan I encountered a large family of horseback riders and
two groups of couples. It got me thinking there was a stellar soak
at the end of the trail...
wrong. The primary soak at Vulcan was completely caved-in,
chock-full of silt and sludge. However, the log dam was still
in-place. Regardless of if the cave-in was a result from greedy
soakers digging out the sandy sides of the pool or wildfire, or both
- there is a great potential here. Vulcan will live again. It may
take some serious work, but I am fairly confident the pool can be
noting, one of the lodges on nearby Warm Lake converted to a biker
bar. As such, there was an abnormal amount of motorbikes ripping
through curvaceous forest roads. Enough to bring out the fuzz, which
I've never seen out here once in the last decade. It's bad enough
already with folks and their big rigs on these tiny streets, please
be careful regardless of your mode of transport.
encountered lost street bikers on dirt forest roads miles away from
Warm Lake a couple times all the while a rainstorm lurked in the
distance. It only takes a couple minutes for these roads to turn to
mush. To be clear, Warm Lake is accessible via pavement all the way.
Yep. All camping areas, primitive and official, are still closed all
along FSR 474 South - same as last, year due to wildfire
restoration. I'm not complaining, about that. It's just that it
would have been nice, like last year, if the forest service road had
been posted from the start. This would have saved a drive down a
road under heavy construction (this time). I navigated dry ruts,
huge rocks, around (barley) tire killer holes and then finally
through a bunch of mud just to discover that there was no camping
anywhere. Why send people down a road (that is under construction
mind you) that leads to an entire area closed down for restoration?
I don't know how, but our soaking party somehow managed to get
Vulcan to ourselves on a busy Sunday afternoon. We hiked in as two
groups were on their way out. We soaked, got out, ate a snack and
headed back. On our way we passed two more groups on their way in.
The second group was dragging along the fixins for some serious
drinking. I had a sinking feeling when passing this last group that
there would be a tremendous mess left behind.
of the main pool has been increased again, lowering the temperature
to 103°. The soak was pretty good. I didn't say 'stellar' because I
have a feeling that the main pool is too big, meaning the flow is
too slow. I have recently been given additional hot springs
measurement criteria that will shed some light on this. Next time I
visit I will post the new results. Thank you
away with only 1
Spider Mite / Chigger bite. Out of my soaking companions, only
one came away with bites, and only a couple at that. Once again, all
3 of us filled our extra bags with trash. This was quite the regular
routine on this trip. Everywhere we went we were filling up bags
with trash. On drive out I felt a quiet, sad feeling hit me as the
realization that half my truck was full of trash set in.
Very nice indeed. Instead of 2 or 3 smaller soaking opportunities
that often yielded mixed results we discovered that there is now 1,
and it delivers! The large, log-dammed pool was a perfect 103°;
excellent for toasty prolonged soaking. On our way in we passed a
couple and their dogs (running wild off-leash) and a group of 3 on a
4-wheeler that just barley fit on the trail - all on their way back
out. Everyone was cordial, and we found out that they were the ones
camping near the trailhead. I was primarily stoked that we were able
to enjoy Vulcan properly before the late afternoon storm picked up
steam and chased us off.
The upper pool below the
source was super toasty, while the middle pool was a bit cooler. Slight amount of goobers, tons of what I call a strain of government engineered super-mosquitoes (you've been warned... bring your bug juice or learn the hard way like I did) and no notice of trash made this somewhat worthwhile. The mosquitoes really did me in. Other than that though, AOK. The meadow just before the pull out was loaded with a huge grouping of Elk, a definite plus to the whole trip. On our way to the pools we past a lady with 8 kids! And, on our way out we past a couple scouting for a good HS for their family to soak in.
pool: 109°, creek wide pool: 98°
08.04.06 & 08.05.06
Just about every possible primitive site or place to park and camp
at the trailhead was taken, only one, small space was left and no
vehicles were in the TH parking area. On the 5th, there was actually
about 3 open primitive sites and 4 vehicles in the TH parking.
There was a huge get-together of some sort going on just west of the
trailhead. There was a small fleet of RVs, ORVs and at least 40 or
so people, and you can bet they made good use of the hot springs.
That's a little too many folks to share a soak with; so I left.
Word is that this weekend some off-duty BLM staffers are throwing a
huge $50/head rager at the same location - exclusive invite only,
and oh yes, kegs of beer. -That's just great, no additional comments
from me because I'll just end up getting myself in trouble.