Pine Flats Hot Springs was a really nice surprise along our hot springs tour. These hot springs weren't high on our radar at all. We didn't really know anything about these springs until the day we went and we were completely blown away by this place. It turned out to easily be on the top five of our list of favorite Hot Springs.
The Pine Flats Hot Springs are located just 15 minutes up the road from the scenic and beautiful Kirkham Hot Springs in the Boise National Forest on the Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway aka Banks Lowman Road. There is plenty of parking there for on season soaking.There are campgrounds, picnic areas, and a pit toilet in the main area right next to the gorgeous Payette river. This area is seasonal and is closed off to vehicles during the winter months and for good reason, but, there is still room for parking during those months at the top of the road. Here are the parking / trailhead coordinates:
This trail is an easy to moderate (depending on which spring you wanted to soak in) 1 mile out and back, so, 1/2 mile each way. The hike parallels the Payette River with views and sounds that will not disappoint.
Our journey started after an early morning soak at the scenic Kirkham Hot Springs. We were heading to Boise, Idaho which is only an hour and a half away. We had these hot springs marked as a place to check out, but, it wasn't a "must see" for us, so, we almost decided to bypass them. We are SO grateful we didn't because this hidden gem turned out to easily make it on our top five hot springs list.
When we arrived the road to get down to the main area was closed due to being the off season. The gate was locked up and for good reason. If you got down there at this time there was no way of getting back out. At the top of the road there was maybe room for about four or five cars to park and walk the road down to the trail head.
At the bottom of the road there is a day use area with a $5 day use fee and 24 overnight campgrounds with fire rings and picnic tables ranging at $15 a single site and $30 for a double site all located alongside the payette river. The operational season for this area is May thru September and if you wanted to camp there during the on season you can reserve a spot here through rec.gov . Honestly next time we go through there during on season we would get a spot there for a night just to go star gazing in the hot springs. The trailhead is literally right there.
We continued our hike. At the start of the trail it dips down and gets close to the Payette River. The sound of the river as you hike is amazing. The trail at one point forks to either go down to the tubs alongside the river or up to get higher on the cliff edge to more gorgeous pools to soak in. The riverside pools are colder because the river water is also mixing with the hot spring water. At the time we were there we didn't even want to venture off to those ones because we knew they would be too cold, so, we climbed to the higher tubs closer to the source.
As we ventured up we found a spring that seemed to be the furthest one up. I ventured a little further to see if there was anything else further up just for shits and giggles, but, didn't see anything. The one we found was perfect. We soaked in there for hours, taking in the beautiful view, listening to the cascading waterfalls, and feeling the ice cold wind hit our faces as our body's were completely submerged in beautifully hot water.
Pine Flats makes our list of top five favorites because it checks off everything you are looking for in a hot spring experience. It has breathtaking views, multiple pools with varying temps, cascading waterfalls, and riverside soaking. This was definitely a surprise that blew us away. A true hidden gem of Idaho.
As always safe travels, be adventurous, and pack it in pack it out!