Goldmyer Hot Springs Hiking Trail Guide

Fancy a gentle hike through ancient forest or bathing in a natural geothermal spring? A visit to these stunning hot springs in the Cascades Mountains will soothe both your body and spirit.

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Written by: | Reviewed by: Brian Conghalie
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Tucked away in the depths of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, this short, easy hike rewards your efforts with a miniature wonderland of water features — a trio of babbling creeks, tumbling hillside cascades and, at the trail’s end, a collection of natural geothermal hot springs flanked by a roaring waterfall.

It might not make for an epic wilderness adventure, but for a night camping, lounging and soaking in a very remote, unspoiled and otherwise enchanting spot, it’s pretty hard to beat.

In this article, we’re going to look at the logistics involved in visiting the springs, from pre-trip prep right through to permits and potential difficulties. After that, we’ll include descriptions of the two most popular trails and a few notes on gear, sleeping arrangements and potential hazards.

Key Takeaways

  • The landowners’ admission limit of 20 people per day means overcrowding isn’t an issue
  • There are a total of 3 hots pools ranging from 110F to 104F and one ‘cool-off’ pool for braver bathers
  • The area’s appeal to the nature-lover doesn’t stop with the pools — there are miles of old-growth forest, beautiful waterfalls and creeks, a 900-year-old Pacific silver fir, and views to Mt. Garfield, Wild Dare Peak, Stegosaurus Butte, and Mt. Thompson
  • Pools are very clean — not a claim that can be made for every hot spring we’ve visited over the years (!)
  • Access to the springs is limited to 20 people per day and reservations must be made (well) in advance
  • The area is subject to frequent flooding and, as such, unexpected road closures
  • The forest road (FR 5600 turning into FR5620) requires a high-clearance vehicle (particularly during winter months).
  • Getting there is a touch on the tricky side


The springs are situated in a secluded, wonderfully quiet corner of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness that is within 2 hours of Seattle by car. Over the years they have both benefited and suffered from periods of overuse and neglect, but today represent one of the most peaceful, well-maintained, and generally attractive natural hot springs hikes in Washington State.  

History of the Hot Springs

The springs are situated in the midst of one of the last remaining ancient forest ecosystems in North America. Although the springs lie only 60 miles east of Seattle, they get over twice the amount of annual precipitation — enough, in fact, to merit designation as a temperate rainforest.

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Photo by hundertmorgen_ / CC BY 2.0

The area was first developed by the logger, homesteader, prospector, and hiker William Goldmyer in the early 1900s. Goldmyer, who named the springs ‘Crystal Hot Springs Resort’, privatized the property as a patented mining claim and ran a lodge for miners and loggers in the early 1910s.

In the 1920s, the property came under the ownership of Bill Morrow, who installed a number of facilities on the site — a basic lodge, bath houses, bridges, a sawmill, a hydroelectric power system, and a plumbing system — with a view to turning it into a resort and a spa. Morrow’s efforts were ultimately interrupted, however, by the start of WWII.

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Severe flooding in January 1960 saw the falls fall into relative obscurity until their rediscovery and renaissance as a wilderness party spot in the 1960s and 70s. In 1976, the Morrow family established the nonprofit Northwest Wilderness Programs to preserve and protect the springs from the overuse and abuse (vandalism, littering) that followed and NWWP continues to manage the property to this day.

Washington Hiking & Backpacking Trails

Type of trail

The two most popular hiking trails to the springs are easy forest trails that involve a few short creek crossings but present no other notable difficulties. Both trails can feasibly be undertaken on cross-country skis, snowshoes, or a mountain bike given the right conditions.


Both of the routes to the springs are easy, very well-maintained hiking trails. From the Dingford Creek Trailhead, the Dingford Creek Road* Trail is marginally easier than the Middle Fork Trail but is also less scenic and of similar length — the trails are 4.7 and 5 miles respectively and each takes around 2 hours.

If you choose or are forced to park at the Middle Fork Trailhead, the entire hike measures closer to 11 miles each way and should take 3.5-4 hours at a moderate, steady pace.

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The total ascent/elevation gain from the Dingford Creek Trailhead (1300ft) to Goldmyer Hot Springs (2200) ft is 900 feet.

* Sometimes, confusingly, also referred to as the ‘Middle Fork Road’ or the ‘Dutch Miller Gap Trail #1030’


Vehicle Access: Forest Road 56 (FR 56) is usually passable with a high-clearance vehicle. The road has potholes up to six inches deep, so drive your low-clearance car at your own risk. In the event of road closure or if your vehicle is not high-clearance, be prepared to walk the stage from the Middle Fork Trailhead to the Dingford Creek Trailhead, adding 6 miles each way

Camping at the springs costs $5 per night, per person 18 years of age and older. Camping reservations can be made at the same time as reservations for visitor permits

For access, the FR56 is occasionally closed as a result of washouts and construction work. Prior to setting off for the springs, make sure you check the springs’ Access Report, which is updated every Wednesday

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Photo by hundertmorgen_ / CC BY 2.0

Goldymer Hot Springs is a wilderness area and there are no services at the springs whatsoever. As such, any visit requires complete self-sufficiency. Be sure to pack in everything you will need for the duration of your stay, from clothing and sleeping provisions to food, water, and cooking appliances


Road Access and Parking: A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the Dingford Creek Trailhead. An annual pass or a day pass, which can also be purchased online, must be displayed in your vehicle. More info on Forest Passes is available here

Goldmyer Property: It is possible to visit the springs without a reservation, but with access limited to 20 visitors per day we highly recommend booking in advance. To make reservations for both the springs and the campsite, call 206.789.5631 and leave a voicemail

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Photo by hundertmorgen_ / CC BY 2.0

At the time of writing, the price of permit fees for visitors is as follows:

  • Children (1-17): Free
  • Adults (18-64): $15
  • Seniors (65+): $10


From Seattle, head east on the I-90 to Exit 34 (around 45 minutes without traffic). From Exit 34, drive into North Bend and turn right onto Middle Fork Road. Stay on the road until you reach the Dingford Creek Trailhead (an additional 30 mins/9 miles), passing the Middle Fork Campground before taking a right immediately after the single-lane bridge, then follow signs for the Dingford Creek Trailhead.

The address for the Dingford Creek Trailhead (for SatNav use) is NF-5620, North Bend, WA 98045, USA and the map coordinates 47.5173° N, 121.4542° W


No public transport currently serves the Dingford Creek Trailhead.

Goldmyer Hot Spring Trail Routes

Topographic profile of the trail from Dingford Trail Head along the Middle Fork Trail.

Route #1: Forest Access Road

From the Dingford Creek Trailhead, cross the bridge and head through the old gate. The forest access road flanks a succession of creeks (Dingford, Wildcat, Thunder) at a steady but never steep incline until reaching the footpath to the springs with a right turn just beyond the easternmost tip of Burnboot Creek.

The forest access road is not as enjoyable or scenic as the Middle Fork Trail but is a safer option following heavy rains or during the spring thaw as it avoids the potentially problematic crossings on the south side of the four creeks.

Route #2: Middle Fork Trail

This route is the more scenic, but more treacherous way to reach the Hot Springs due to multiple stream crossings. DO NOT attempt this route during the winter months or after heavy rain. The trail begins behind the outhouse in the parking lot. It passes a scattering of long-disused logging campsites before arriving at another junction 2.3 miles in. Here a third route to Goldmyer veers off on the Rock Creek Trail (#1013.3), which we have not included in our list on account of its steepness and potential to turn your hike into a lengthy, bushwhacking slog through dense windthrow (trail maintenance crews don’t make it up this way quite so regularly).

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From the Rock Creek turnoff, continue on the Middle Fork Trail, crossing the slightly narrow log bridge over Thunder Creek after about 1.5 miles.

From Thunder Creek, the trail continues gradually northeast until reaching a large meadow. After the meadow, a large bridge crosses Burntboot Creek onto the Goldmyer property.

Good to Know

  • Dogs are allowed on the trails to the springs but not on the Goldmyer property
  • Clothing at the springs is optional. If you wish to spare your eyes the affront of other bathers’ backsides etc., you can call to arrange no-nudity times in advance
  • Campfires are not permitted at the campsite
  • Payment for permits and camping is cash-only
  • The pools at are cleaned twice a week
  • There is no public potable water source or trash service so be sure to carry enough drinking water (or some means of purifying water) and pack out everything you brought in
  • There is no cell phone reception at the springs or anywhere nearby
  • Mountain biking is permitted on the Middle Fork Trail on odd-numbered calendar days from June 1 to October 31 depending on the conditions of the trail
  • Goldmyer receives over double the annual rainfall of Seattle — bring your raincoat!
  • Black bears are common in the area around the springs (food containers are present at the campsite)
  • If you are traveling to the springs in winter months, carrying snow chains in your car is recommended (the road beyond the Dingford Creek Trailhead is not plowed)
  • If snow cover is adequate, the access road trail to the springs is suitable for snowshoeing and cross-country skis

Suggested Gear List

  • Water and food (there are no services at either the campsites or the springs)
  • Camping stove and fuel
  • Water filtration device
  • Swimsuit (optional)
  • Hiking shoes/boots
  • Towel
  • Flashlight and headlamp
  • Camping gear (tent, sleeping bag, pad, etc.)
  • Overnight first aid kit
  • Waterproof clothing

Last update on 2023-06-01 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Kieran Avatar

Kieran James Cunningham is a climber, mountaineer, and author who divides his time between the Italian Alps, the US, and his native Scotland.

He has climbed a handful of 6000ers in the Himalayas, 4000ers in the Alps, 14ers in the US, and loves nothing more than a good long-distance wander in the wilderness. He climbs when he should be writing, writes when he should be sleeping, has fun always.

Kieran has taught mountaineering, ice climbing, and single-pitch and multi-pitch rock climbing in a variety of contexts over the years and has led trekking and mountaineering expeditions in the Alps, Rockies, and UK. He is currently working towards qualifying as a Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor and International Mountain Leader.

Kieran’s book Climbing the Walls—an exploration of the mental health benefits of climbing, mountaineering, and the great outdoors—is scheduled for release by Simon & Schuster in April 2021.

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