Seattle, WA: Goldmyer Hot Springs

Track beneath waterfalls and icicle-hung trees to a soothing soak.
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Track beneath waterfalls and icicle-hung trees to a soothing soak.

Need a restorative winter warmer? Hike 11 miles along the icy banks of the Middle Fork Snoqualmie River to a natural hot spring just 35 miles from Seattle. During winter, the lone access road becomes impassable; it’s foot travel only, but you’ll still need reservations to secure one of just 20 daily permits.

From the parking lot off Middle Fork Road, take the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Trail #1003 across the Gateway Bridge and follow the main track left. At .8 mile, reach a side trail leading to the granite backbone of Stegosaurus Butte. Follow the river, then climb through a recent landslide that toppled the Douglas firs and exposed a view of 5,519-foot Mt. Garfield. At 4.5 miles, reach Cripple Creek and a roaring 20-foot cascade set against a granite backdrop. Turn uphill here for a one-mile side trip to Tin Cup Joe Falls.

Hike another mile to the Dingford Creek junction. During spring snowmelt (April to May), the Thunder Creek ford, three miles ahead, can be impassable. Scout Dingford Creek to help anticipate Thunder Creek’s flow. If Dingford’s raging, take the left spur to Dingford Road and follow the forest road four miles to Goldmyer. Otherwise, continue toward Wildcat Creek and Rock Creek, both spanned by wooden bridges. At 8.1 miles, veer right at the Y-junction. You’ll soon pass the intersection with the Rock Creek Trail #1013.3, which leads to Snow Lake and Snoqualmie Pass.

Stay on #1003 to Thunder Creek, where two 10-foot falls emit a low roar. Cross the stream if the torrent is passable, then continue to Burntboot Creek and the fallen logs that provide access to Goldmyer Hot Springs. The springs are staffed by caretakers for Northwest Wilderness Programs, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to wilderness preservation; check in, and camp along the river. Then hit the pools, which seat one to four, and range from 100°F to 120°F.

Gear up REI, 735 Northwest Gilman Blvd., Issaquah, WA. (425) 313-1660; rei.com

Permit Northwest Forest Pass required ($30/year). (800) 270-7504; fs.fed.us/r6/passespermits

Reservations Access is $15/day per person. Call 90 days ahead. (206) 789-5631; goldmyer.org

-Mapped by Nathan and Jeremy Barnes, hikingwithmybrother.com

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 17.7

Waypoints

HCT006

Location: 37.641132, -119.848618

Arrive at Hite Cove. Explore the old mining area of Hite Cove. Some old wood structures remain on the property in addition to old stone foundations. A couple of backcountry camps are further along the trail, but river access is further upstream including some old mineshafts.

HCT004

Location: 37.63797, -119.875656

The trail levels out and comes near the river. Lupines, chinese houses and baby blue eyes are some of the wildflowers seen in this area. The exposed trail ascends a bit for the next 1/4 mile then maintains elevation for most of the remaining trail.

HCT002

Location: 37.654362, -119.887108

R @ Y. Turn right onto the Hite Cove trail. Springtime at this section of the Hite Cove trail is an explosion of wildflowers, california poppies, popcorn flowers, blue dicks, owls clover, baby blue eyes, chinese houses, indian painbrush and many others can be found along the first 1/2 mile of this trail. The narrow trail follows the south fork of the Merced River and ascends and descends, steeply in a couple of sections, along the way.

HCT003

Location: 37.646023, -119.87925

Sierra National Forest Boundary. The narrow trail cuts through the steep terrain. Wildflowers continue to line the trail with some sections more lush than others. Skinks and Lizards skitter in the brush.

HCT001

Location: 37.654709, -119.887512

Trailhead. Head up the paved road at the trailhead sign. The road bends to the right and becomes a trail. Note: The first 3/4 mile of this trail is on private property and only hiker access is allowed. Camping only allowed in the national forest.

HCT005

Location: 37.63913, -119.853981

Mining artifacts including large geared wheels from the old stamp mills lay rusting along the trail. Continuing on, the trail has some sandy sections and passes some old stone foundations that were once part of John Hite's mining town.

Trailhead

Location: 37.654537, -119.887665

Mariposa Lily

Location: 37.653957, -119.886978

Narrow Trail

Location: 37.646992, -119.880928

St. John's Wort

Location: 37.641998, -119.879944

Vista

Location: 37.641113, -119.879128

Lupines

Location: 37.638294, -119.875404

Western Skink

Location: 37.637409, -119.874504

Rocky Trail

Location: 37.637409, -119.872398

Colorful Trail

Location: 37.639008, -119.868546

Runnig Faucet

Location: 37.641472, -119.848511

Odd sight of this running faucet near the ruins of Hite Cove.

Rock Wall

Location: 37.639584, -119.852722

Abandond Shed

Location: 37.641506, -119.848961

Steel Wheels

Location: 37.63921, -119.854736

Wheel

Location: 37.639381, -119.853752

Merced

Location: 37.639042, -119.856323

Painted Lady

Location: 37.639145, -119.861168

Lupine View

Location: 37.640366, -119.867126

Poppy Trail

Location: 37.653824, -119.886765

Narrow Trail cuts Sheer Cliff

Location: 37.646519, -119.880074

Wildflower Carpet

Location: 37.652191, -119.885521

Hite Cove Trail

Location: 37.650631, -119.885216

Poppies and Shade

Location: 37.650288, -119.885132