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  • Writer's pictureNoMadder WhereVan

Goldbug Hot Springs - A Beautiful Over Night Camping Adventure on our Winter Hot Springs Tour!

Today we went on an overnight backpacking trip at our favorite hot spring EVER! It is the extraordinarily beautiful Goldbug Hot Springs in Idaho. It is located about an hour south of Salmon, Idaho in a town called Elk Bend. If you are planning to visit Idaho and want to see a breathtaking hot spring, Goldbug is at the top of our list.

The Goldbug Trailhead is located about an hour South of Salmon,Idaho in a town called Elk Bend in the Salmon National Forest. The ride in is beautiful no matter which direction you are coming from. It is a scenic drive along the Salmon River in a valley between gorgeous mountains and rock formations. The parking for the trailhead is in a residential area, so, please be respectful and mindful of noise. There is a pit toilet and small trash can at the start of the trail. Regardless of the trash can, if you are packing something in please pack it out. Here are the trailhead coordinates:

The trail is around a 4 mile, heavily trafficked, moderate, out & back hike, so, about 2 miles each way and is worth every step. The whole trail follows a river with small cascading waterfalls around every bend and has gorgeous views in every direction you turn. With the river in mind we decided to bring our Sawyer water filter to fill up along the way.

Our adventure started when we were Boon-docking about 5 miles away from the trailhead waiting for the snow. Our friends Dave and Carrie decided to surprise us and rolled up to where we were staying. There was snow forecasted for that night, so, we all tossed around the idea of doing a last minute overnight backpacking trip up there. We've been to this hot spring multiple times before and have dreamed about seeing how cool it would be to soak in them with the snow, so... of course we decided to go!

It was a Saturday when we started our trip. Needless to say there were a TON of cars at the trailhead. It was raining though and it seemed like people were kind of clearing out. We threw our backpacks on and our journey began.

The first up hill battle is right at the beginning of the trail. It's a small push with a few switchbacks up to a higher spot on the hillside. It's actually a nice way to warmup your legs for the rest of the hike.

The second stretch of the hike is a gorgeous scenic stroll through the valley of the mountains. The landscape is of rolling hills with sagebrush and footbridges. Cedar and pine trees are centralized around the rivers edge which flows with small cascading waterfalls throughout this whole leg of the hike.

The third part of this hike is the final grind to the top. This is where the trail gets to be a bit more strenuous. If you are doing this in the summer please make sure you take a lot of water and breaks. This part of the hike is super exposed and gets hot. As you make your ascent the sound of the river surrounds you. There are places closer to the top along the way that you can stop off and take a dunk in, too. After a good 1/2 mile (+ or -) grind you will have made it to the top. Congratulations!

The springs themselves are like nothing we've ever seen anywhere else. There has to be at least 10+ pools throughout the whole place with some sort of cascading waterfall feeding into each one of them. The temperature of the pools start super hot up top, to a cooler temp below with varying degrees in between, so, there is no doubt you will find the perfect pool for you.

If you are visiting Goldbug Hot Springs, this place can get pretty packed on the weekends. That seems to be the theme for most of these places. If you find a lot of cars at the trailhead don't be discouraged, there are plenty of pots available for everyone!

As always safe travels, be adventurous, and pack it in pack it out!


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