On May 19th, 2019, Skip, Bandit, and I packed up the jeep and headed 247 miles towards Salmon, Idaho, to visit the first of many hot springs of the year, Gold Bug.
The drive itself is stunning, and depending on what time of the year you decide to make this trip, the scenery will be different. From colors changing on the trees in the fall, snow-white covered roads and mountains in the winter, rapid rivers and greenery in the spring, and many vehicles in the summer.
There are no campsites near the trailhead, but there is a national forest nearby if you enjoy Boon-docking "Camping in non-designated campsites."
Once you get into the trail, there are multiple backpacking sites along the way. Remember to leave no trace behind and always camp at least 200 feet away from water. Click HEREwhich discusses the leave no trace project.
DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT follow your GPS completely. Unfortunately, your GPS will take you to a fence that is private property but do not worry. They have a sign on the gate letting you know this.
Directions to Trailhead:
The trailhead is located south of Salmon, Idaho, near mile marker 282 on Highway 93.
The trail is accessed by a dirt road once getting off the highway.
Follow the dirt road heading East that will take you directly to the path.
You will drive past a few houses and come across a wooden fence that indicates you are at the correct location.
We recommend locating the trailhead on maps and dropping a pin before leaving your house. We did not do this on this specific hike. However, after this trip, we learned this lesson the hard way. Dropping a pin is the easiest way to get to the correct location. That way, you are not driving in circles on the highway once it gets dark after you had just driven five hours from Boise like we did.
Once you get to the trailhead, there is free parking. Remember there is no overnight camping in the parking area (you can park there overnight if you are backpacking in). Plus, there are no restrooms at the trailhead. You should utilize the restroom before heading to the trailhead. And if need be always dispose for your waste properly.
Hiking four miles round trip does not seem like a lot, but keep in mind you are gaining 1350 feet in elevation within two miles.
The first ¼ mile of the trip is a steep incline on a staircase through private property. You must keep your animal on a leash and stay on the path through this portion of the trail. If people continue to abuse this trail, the owner of this property will, in fact, close off the gate and not allow public use through their property. Meaning these beautiful hot springs will no longer be accessible.
Once you get past the gate, you can let your animals off-leash, and this is where you will notice there are campsites that you can utilize if you want to backpack in. the middle section of the trail is relatively flat and follows a creek.
The last portion of the trail is where most elevation gain comes from, and the most challenging part is the incline. Towards the top of the path, you will start to climb over boulders and over wooden box steps.
Once you get past the wooden box steps, you will pass over a small bridge and reach the six pools to soak in.
Description of hot springs:
The six pools consist of different sizes, depth of water, temperature, and of course, views. Depending on the time of the year you decide to visit will determine the temperature of the pools. We came in May, and none of the pools were hot because of the snowmelt.
The bottom of the pools is made up of gravel, so beware there may be sharp rocks you will step on. The walls are made out of boulders. Please leave them alone and do not create new pools nor mess with the current ones.
The "Instagram" pool that brought you to this location will probably have someone in it, so visit the other pools while you wait. And enjoy the scenery, Douglas Fir, Lodgepole Pine trees, sagebrush, and all the beautiful flowers if staying in the spring. But be alert for rattlesnakes within the boulders, and occasionally you will come across a Mule Deer, Jack Rabbits, and naked couples.
Overall, this was a stunning hike, and we recommend taking the time to hike it and enjoy the pools with their views.