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Home: Idaho Hot Springs: Willow Creek Hot Springs
  Public Hot Springs

Willow Creek Hot Springs in Idaho

Season: Summer/Fall Type: H (hike)
Sawtooth National Forest Overall Rating: B-
5,100 ft Water Temperature: Varies pH: 6.5-7
Featherville Area Usage Level: Light

Picture Viewer




Looking good - the new main attraction

08.28.04: How sweet it is

08.28.04: Peace sign made with rocks

05.2001: Pools a plenty

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[ View 06.25.13 Willow Creek Hot Springs Video on HSG or on YouTube or in the Video Player ]

Willow Creek Hot Springs in Idaho General Description

A chain of algae and silt laden hot springs pools along Willow Creek and the Idaho Centennial Trail. The hot pools are just under a mile from a horse transfer camp in the Sawtooth National Forest Northeast of Pine and Featherville, Idaho.

Pool Condition
Pools are dug out of a thermal stream fed by the source, damned with mostly rocks, some logs - bottoms are generally muddy and/or silty due to low-use.

07.2010 Condition Update
The surrounding landscape at Willow Creek Hot Springs near Pine, Idaho was severely damaged by wildfire in 2008; I recently received word that no soaking pools have resurfaced, and that not much potential remains as there is only a small trickle of source water emerging. As of June 2013, despite a heavily burned (but recovering nicely) area Willow Creek lives!

Dates Visited: Trash Levels: Bug Levels:
06.25.13 none moderate
07.08.06 moderate heavy
08.28.04 low moderate
05.05.02 low light
05.2001 low light

Water Clarity:



Wildlife Sighted: Deer, elk, plenty of toads, bats, moose and occasional red spider mites

Seasonal Information
Seasonal Forest Road closure from October through mid-May.

Surrounding Sawtooth and nearby Boise National Forests have plenty of campgrounds and primitive sites. No really great camp spots near the hot springs, plenty of flat ground but loaded with piles of deer and elk doo doo. Good camping at the trailhead in a horse camp, Willow Creek Campground is roughly 1mile down the road from the trailhead.

Willow Creek Hot Springs Trip Reports

So awesome to return to such a wonderful place after all of these years! It was a rainy trip, but so great to see my old friend alive and well. Take a look at the pictures and video above for a visual. It should be noted that there was a large number of horse campers at the trailhead/Willow Creek transfer camp. Huge vehicles, lots of people... more than I've ever seen.
Rating B+

07.08.06 - Traffic Update
The horse transfer camp and all nearby primitive camps were full-up! Tons of horses and tons of 4 wheelers... and I mean tons! There was vegetative damage from the 4 wheelers present everywhere. I've never seen so many people in this area before, let alone 4 wheelers. This area of the Sawtooths is now an off road vehicle park. Forget getting any peace and quiet and prepare for non-stop clouds of dirt being kicked up. There was even an outfitter present - I at first thought someone bought the land and was using it as a personal junkyard. The outfitter thrashed the entire expanse of their primitive site plus expanded it to suit their needs. Plus, the area directly adjacent to the outfitter camp featured clear evidence of 4 wheeler damage. In fact, just from driving the expanse of FSR 008 there were multiple areas that were clearly damaged as a direct result of 4 wheelers driving off track. This went from one of my most favorite areas of the Sawtooth NF to my least. I've never seen an area transform so quickly. I was so disgusted that I documented the damage then left.
Rating X

08.28.04 - Special Guest Briefing! (I was actually present as well)
Hike from transfer camp approximately .75 mile in a short distance one bears witness to a multitude of beautiful scenery. Closed forest, rocky path above a stream, to wide open meadow where the hot springs reside in a multi-pool hot creek. The algae ranges in color from deep green to burnt orange. The pools appear to be used by the local wildlife more than us human folk. Four pools of slightly varying sizes and temperatures edge along an almost dry creek. On one side a creek rages happily, on the other side of the rock expanse are the pools, whose bottoms are silty. A little elbow grease and TLC could vastly improve the soaking conditions.
-Billie Hopkins

Additional Information
I talked to a local while soaking at Baumgartner about the Willow Creek area; he had been a sheepherder in the area for 15 or so years roughly 30-40 years ago. He talked fondly of the hot springs, and said that there was a sheepherder's cabin in the present day location of the official Willow Creek Campground. It was an interesting time back then; it was before the town of Pine was moved to it's present day location, and before both Pine and Featherville received their current names.

On an interesting side-note; I noticed about 4-5 new primitive camping areas with large, flat pullouts and huge fire pits on the FSR that leads to the trailhead of the hot springs.
Rating B-

Willow Creek was a fun trip as usual. There was only one or two pools that had the right temps. After a few hours of work we were able to get one pool suitable. Lots of algae, deer and elk dung and a deer corpse were around and in the path of the spring. After our efforts, I imagine the pools' condition will improve over the next week. We increased the flow enough to clear some of the nasty stuff and clogs and did plenty of manual goober removal as well. Even despite our efforts there were still lots of floaters around. Plus, we received some interesting bites from the lovely Red Spider Mites. After our work, the spring did feel great though. You might want to bring something to sit on if the floaters gross you out. I'll be bringing mine next time just in case.
Rating C

Willow Creek is a favorite of mine. Maybe it's because everyone waves at you on your trek through Featherville and Pine, or maybe it's the lack of people that visit the spring. Silt and algae are abound, so scooping some out might be in order. This is also a favorite of mine because of all the wildlife about in this area. Expect, at the very least, to see a ton of deer.
Rating B-

Average Rating: B-


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