Wildlife Sighted: Deer,
elk, plenty of toads, bats, moose and occasional red spider mites
Forest Road closure from October through mid-May.
Surrounding Sawtooth and nearby
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.
07.08.06 - Traffic
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.