The weather forecast made it clear that we would be wet and cold no matter where we went within a reasonable radius of our home-base. I figured we may as well be warm for part of the time, so we headed a few hours northwest to find the hot springs in the Umpqua National Forest. We passed Crater Lake National Park and Diamond Lake on the way in, but didn’t stop to visit this time.
I was impressed with how easy it was to navigate around Umpqua. We stopped by the ranger station for a map on Ranger Station Road and found a spot at the Toketee Lake Campground. It was a first-come, first-serve campground and is $10/night paid cash or check to the fee box. There are several other campgrounds along Highway 138, which runs east to west through the center of the forest. As always, dispersed camping was also allowed 500ft off of forest service roads.
There was a parking lot for the hot springs with a day-use fee of $5 or you could park on the road for free. The road has a lot of potholes on it, but is alright to drive on. The hike from the parking lot was only 0.3 miles, but steep at the beginning. There’s a gate at the beginning of the road, so if it’s closed or weather conditions aren’t good for driving, you can park your car at the gate and hike in 2.3 miles to the springs. If you come in from the other direction, you can make it a 4 mile hike to the springs.
The crowd was friendly, funny, and mostly a bunch of van-living dirty hippies with some well-behaved pups. The hottest pool was difficult to sit in longer than a few minutes, but felt great on the muscles. The other pool we tried was lukewarm and was fed by a hose from the hottest pool. We were hoping the pool between them would be the Goldilocks perfect fit, but we weren’t able to squeeze in as it was the most popular one.
The view around the springs was refreshing. Behind the springs was a hillside covered in ferns and in front of the springs was the Umpqua River and endless pine trees.
Not all of the pools you can sit in are pictured here. A lot of people were naked and I didn’t want to invade their privacy. There are a few more pools that are tiered down the hillside toward the river. Their temperatures were cooler as they descended.
After hiking a small section of the North Umpqua Trail, we finished the day with the short hike to Toketee Falls. The trailhead is not far from the Toketeee Lake Campground and has a parking lot next to the wooden Toketee Pipeline. The trail leads you to a platform that overlooks the falls, which are double-tiered. The rock wall around it is made up of columnar basalt.
I highly recommend this area for a weekend trip, rain or shine. For a longer trip I would recommend calling the ranger station to find out which sections of the North Umpqua Trail are open (the ones we tried were closed due to fire damage). This could also be paired with a visit to Crater Lake, as it is only an hour or so away.
To see some breathtaking images of the area, check out Steve Yocom Photography! (the dude who recommended this spot to us in the first place)