When Bob Bagby "discovered" these hot springs near Portland in 1880, he probably didn't settle in for a long soak, but since then a whole lot of people have.
The bathing dates back to U.S. Forest Service improvements in the 1920s, and the facilities have only gotten better.
Two 136-degree hot springs pour in at 24 gallons per minute, and bathers chill it down by mixing in buckets of water from a cold-water spring that's been piped to the tubs by volunteers.
After walking an easy 1.5-mile trail through old-growth forest, you'll find three bath houses at the site. The main bathhouse features five hand-hewn, cedar-log tubs in private rooms. The lower house has three log tubs and a large circular tub on an outdoor deck. The third bathhouse also features a open-deck tub.
Finding natural hot springs just a short jump from a metropolitan area — at 3,000 feet elevation near a secluded tributary of the Clackamas River and surrounded by giant firs — makes Bagby a great outdoor experience. The springs are free (though a Recreation Pass is required for parking at the trail head), and clothing is optional.
Bagby is managed by the Mt. Hood division of the Forest Service. You'll find detailed information, including rules and tips on its Web site, www.fs.fed.us/r6/mthood/recreation/bagby-hot-springs.shtml.
Volunteers from the Northwest Forest Conservancy (www.bagbyhotsprings.org/) are frequent visitors, assuring a pleasant visit for all.
Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.