Surrounded by breathtaking scenery, and smack dab in the middle of a lush temperate rainforest is Goldmyer Hot Springs.
Only two hours away from Seattle, it’s a welcome reprieve from the daily grind for thousands of people a year. It’s not only nearby residents who visit either – people come from all over the country to soak in the springs pristine waters. It’s no wonder why – everything about the trip is gorgeous, from the drive, to the hike, to the springs themselves.
Before you go though, there are some things you should know. If you go unprepared, your trip may not be as enjoyable, and no one wants that. I’ve put together a list of the most important information, and hopefully it’ll help you plan and make the most of your trip!
1. What to Bring
Goldmyer Hot Springs are a minimally developed area, where you won’t find many modern day comforts. Things such as a potable water source, cell phone reception, and public trash services are unavailable. This means you must plan to carry enough water for your hike (round trip) or bring a water filtration system with you.
The official Goldmyer Hot Springs website provides a list of things they recommend visitors bring. These items include:
- A first-aid kit
- Filled water bottles
- Backpacking water filter
- Camp stove and utensils (if camping)
- Camping equipment if staying overnight (tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, ect.)
- Directions to the springs
(I also recommend bringing bear mace as a precaution)
2. What to Wear
You should plan your outfit according to the season. If it’s 30°F outside, don’t wear a tank top with basketball shorts. That being said, there are a few articles of clothing that are always a good idea to bring when hiking. I make sure to bring these three things: an extra layer of clothing, rain gear, and hiking boots.
Also, Goldmyer is a clothing optional hot spring. If skinny-dipping isn’t your thing, plan to bring a bathing suit.
3. When to Go
Although the springs are open year-round, they’re often unreachable during winter because of heavy snow and ice. It’s best to visit during spring, summer, or autumn, but if you do go during winter, make sure to check Goldmyer’s website to make sure the roads and trailheads are accessible.
The hot springs busiest hours are noon to 8pm, so if you’re looking for a more secluded visit, plan to go earlier.
4. Admissions, Fees, & Hours
The admission fee at the hot springs is $20 for adults, and $15 for visitors 65 and older. Children ages 1-17 get in free, but must be accompanied by their guardian at all times.
The property is open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. every day of the week. You may check-in and check-out any time within those hours. (except for campers, who must check-out before noon the day their reservation ends)
5. 20 People a Day
Only 20 people are allowed in the springs a day. Goldmyer enforces this rule in an effort to preserve the area and prevent crowding at the springs. This limit includes both day visitors and campers.
Reservations are recommended. Walk-ins are allowed, but only based on availability, so it’s very unlikely you’ll get in with the 20 people a day rule. If you manage a successful walk-in though, you must pay in cash upon arrival.
Goldmyer doesn’t offer online reservations, so you must make one over the phone. You can find reservation instructions on Goldmyer’s website, which includes the phone number you need. Because of the popularity of the springs, it’s recommended to make your reservation at least two weeks in advance. If you don’t, you may not get a callback, which means no springs for you.
7. Cancellation Policy
Goldmyer’s cancellation policy is very strict, so make sure you’re committed when making a reservation.
For cancellations received at least two weeks before you planned visit, you can either reschedule your reservation, receive a credit to use at the hot springs within one year, or receive a refund with a deduction of 25% or $10. (whichever is more)
For cancellations received less than two weeks before your scheduled visit, but over one week, you can either reschedule or receive a credit.
For cancellations received less than one week before your reservation, your money is forfeit.
8. What the Pools Are Like
The springs have three hot pools and one cold pool, which are all interconnected. At the source of the spring, the water is 125ºF, and as it flows into the other pools, the temperature cools, dropping to a low of 104ºF. (not including the cold pool)
The springs at Goldmyer carry a range of minerals, including sodium, calcium, chloride, potassium, silica, and sulfate. The pH of the pools are relatively high, at about 8.5. (for reference, rainwater has a pH of 6.5)
It’s hard to fit more than 10-12 people in the pools at a time, so you may have to wait on a busy day, or squeeze in with others.
9. Leave No Trace
The Northwest Wilderness Programs urges all visitors to respect the forest and practice the principles of Leave No Trace. This includes leaving nothing behind, including biodegradable material such as apple cores and orange peels. These items may seem harmless, but they can affect the ecosystem in many ways, so remember to pack it in, pack it out.
Goldmyer has rules. Some of them are common, and others may impact your trip if not take into account for before your visit.
Here’s the list: (you can also find it on Goldmyer’s website)
- No smoking of any sort, illegal drugs, glass containers, or weapons.
- Alcohol is prohibited, except by overnight visitors at campsites.
- Drunken or disorderly conduct will not be tolerated.
- No using soap or eating in the hot spring area.
- No campfires or charcoal fires on the property.
- Camping stoves are allowed only at campsites and picnic tables.
- Cameras: respect the privacy of others and get consent. Don’t take photos of people outside your group.
- Maximum of 8 people per group.
Pets aren’t allowed at Goldmyer. This is to prevent the interaction of pets with wildlife, and for the safety of other hikers and campers. Licensed service dogs are the exception. If you’re planning to bring your service dog, include this information when scheduling your reservation.
Goldmyer offers scenic camping in a second-growth forest. The campsites themselves are large, spread out, primitive, and run along Burnt Boot Creek. The fee to camp in one of these secluded sites is $5 per night, per person.
They also have no cap on how many nights you can camp, so stay as long as you’d like. (as long as you’ve reserved those days in advance)
13. Hiking Trails
There are two hiking trails that lead to the springs, but only one of them is recommended. They both involve following the Middle Fork Trail for 6 miles to the Dingford Creek Bridge. After that, you can choose to either continue on the Middle Fork Trail, or follow the Dingford Creek Road.
The first option follows Dingford Creek Road and is deemed safe. It’s on the north side of the river, and is 9 miles long, round trip. At an average steady pace, it’ll take about 2-3 hours to complete, each way.
The second option involves continuing on the Middle Fork Trail. It’s on the south side of the river, and is 11 miles long, round trip. Due to damage, the longer hike isn’t recommended. Flooding destroyed a large log that used to provide safe crossing over a stream and crossing the stream without it is both difficult and dangerous.
Biking to Goldmyer is another option. The safe hiking route alongside Dingford Creek Road is open year-round to bikes, while the less safe trail is open to bikes only a few days of the year during spring and summer. It’ll take 1-2 hours to reach the springs on a bike, depending on what you’re carrying and your average speed.
15. Forest & Wildlife
The area Goldmyer is located in is breathtaking and filled with many kinds of life. The forest receives so much rainfall it can be considered a temperate rainforest. (it gets double the amount of rain Seattle does) It’s one of North America’s last remaining ancient forest ecosystems.
The trees are 900 years old and up to 8 feet wide. There are many species, including Western red cedar, Douglas fir, Pacific silver fir, and Western hemlock. There’s just as much, if not more variety in wildlife. Animals range from owls to flying squirrels, chipmunks, snakes, deer, and more. There’s even the occasional black bear or cougar sighting.
You’re free to take as many photos as your heart desires, as long as they’re for non-commercial use, and do not include others without their consent. Be mindful of other visitors and use common sense. It’s a clothing optional hot spring, so it’s even more of a potential privacy issue than normal.
The hot springs are cleaned twice a week, so if you’re worried about the cleanliness of the pools, don’t be. Cleaning the pool takes about 5 hours of time, so make sure you check out the calendar on Goldmyer’s website to find out when cleanings are scheduled.
18. Vehicle Requirements & Preparation
The road to Goldmyer is rough, and visitors often underestimate it. To get to the trailhead, you must drive a 10 mile paved and 5 mile unpaved road. There are many potholes, and because of frequent heavy snow, high clearance vehicles are recommended year-round. (although regular clearance vehicles may make it through in summer months)
During the rest of the year, especially in winter, high clearance vehicles with chains and a spare tire are heavily recommended. During the peak of winter there can be upwards of 3 feet of snow, if not more, so always check Goldmyer’s website for access reports.
19. Getting There
GPS can be pretty spotty when driving to Goldmyer, so it’s recommended to have a backup. Just in case, it’s best to bring and follow the directions that are emailed to you along with your reservation confirmation.
Traveling to Goldmyer is an experience you shouldn’t miss out on.
The springs are beautiful, the forest is full of life, and the trip is filled with many chances for relaxation and solitude. Hopefully this list answered some of your questions and helped you prepare for your visit to the springs. Now that you know what you’re getting yourself into, I have no doubt you’ll have a fun, safe trip.
Hi, I'm Ash!
I’m a travel blogger who loves experiencing new things and deeply connecting with people. My missions are to help others around the world realize their travel dreams, and to spread the word about sustainable travel. Feel free to send me a message here.