Set off on a stunning winter hike through fluffy snow in search of something a tad bit warmer–okay, make that a lot warmer. Pacific Northwest hikers flock in droves to create their own stories about Goldmyer Hot Springs, nestled among the stunning and snowy peaks of the Cascade Mountains. This picturesque complex is situated on the remains of an old mining town, and features a number of hot pools positioned in tiers along the mountainside. Situated on the roaring Middle Fork River, this destination can be accessed a number of ways. While one can follow the Middle Fork Trail nearly 10 miles and take a connector trail to the hot springs, the quickest way for the impatient hot pool seeker to get to the pools is to follow the Forest Road 5620, gated off at Dingford Creek, to the Goldmyer turnoff.

Set off from the gate at Dingford Creek and follow the Forest Service road as it immediately passes over the new Dingford Creek Bridge. The road twists lazily through the woods, greeting the hiker with an exceptionally flat and scenic stroll. After about a mile the road bends to greet the river, running along the riverbank to offer spectacular views of the snowy mountain peaks that hide numerous alpine lakes. The road parallels the riverbank for several miles, following its numerous bends as it slowly gains altitude. The exposed portions of the road accommodate accumulating snow, meaning that high-traction footwear or snowshoes are a must, depending on conditions.

©Melissa Farage

The road eventually rises out of the river, cutting through the forest before coming to a fork. Chilly hikers seeking some steam should take the right fork to descend into a small river valley. After crossing a bridge, the connector trail intersects with the Middle Fork Trail. Take a right and follow the signs toward Goldmyer Hot Springs, and follow the trail across a small creek. This narrow trail offers hikers a scenic respite from the broad Forest Service Road, and delights the snow aficionado with countless frosty vistas. Continue along the trail until you reach the Goldmyer Springs cabin, and ring the bell to meet with the caretaker.

©Melissa Farage

While campers can pitch their tent in the campsite, hot pool hikers can continue on, following the signs to the hot springs. This trail twists upward through an old growth forest, offering a steep but scenic hike to the springs. Impatient hikers must follow the trail over a slight ridge before they can finally glimpse their reward—a small plateau overlooking a dramatic waterfall and a hot springs complex. Guests can peel off their layers at a wooden cabana before sprinting over to the hot pools. Partially-frozen hikers can thaw out in the aptly-named Cave hot pool, which hovers at around 110 degrees. But if that’s a bit too warm for your tastes, more moderate temperature can be found in one of two tiered pools, and the brave can take a dip in the icicle-laden cold pool.

©Melissa Farage

Notice: Due to the popularity of Goldmyer Hot Springs and the fact that the admission is limited to 20 people per day, you must call in advance to make reservations. The springs fill up fast, but the winter is one of the best times to enjoy smaller crowds! For more information, go to the Goldmyer Hot Springs website.

Season: Winter

Distance: 4.5 miles (each way)

Difficulty: Easy

Variety: Out and Back

Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Maps: Green Trails Skykomish No. 175

Open To: Hikers, Dogs

Passes and Permits Required: NW Forest Pass

Directions:

From I90 take Exit 34, and take a left onto 468 Street and stay on the road until it meets the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Road (aka Forest Road 56). Take a right onto the Middle Fork Snoqualmie Road and follow it for 12.5 miles until its junction with Taylor River Road. Continue onward, following Forest Road 5620 for five miles until the Dingford Creek Trailhead.

Melissa Farage
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