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Hot springs road closed, but not springs

I like visiting the hot springs in the Umpqua National Forest to soak in the springs, especially when it snows. But someone told me the Forest Service closed the springs for the winter. What gives?

— L.C., Medford

Umpqua National Forest didn't close the Umpqua Hot Springs, but it did close a temporary gate on the road to the springs near Toketee to keep visitors safe and perhaps save them a spendy visit from a tow truck.

Umpqua Forest employees last week closed the gate just past the intersection of Forest Service Road 34 and one of its spurs, F.S. Road 3401, forest spokeswoman Cheryl Caplan says.

The closure is to prevent vehicles from getting stuck on the snowy road, Johnson says. It came at the request of the Douglas County Sheriff's Department, its search-and-rescue team and nearby residents who don't want to spend undo time helping hot springs visitors get their cars and trucks unstuck, she says.

So hot springs visitors need to be prepared to hike, ski or snowshoe about 1.5 miles from the trailhead and then take a steep quarter-mile trek over uncleared, snowy trail to get to the pools, she says.

To find out if the gate is open or closed, call ahead to the Toketee Ranger Station at 541-498-2531 or 541-496-4020 weekdays before 4:30 p.m.

— Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. To see a collection of columns, go to mailtribune.com/youasked. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.