7-Day Forecast for Scenic Hot Springs Area (2,900 ft near beginning of Trail Head)

Friday, June 03, 2005

What's the skinny on visiting Scenic Hot Springs?

Well, the springs are still there . . . and so is the original Monster Tub, now subdivided down the center into two soaking polls. The question I hear most often is 'I'd like to go back to the springs but can I?'

The answer is a conditional 'yes'. The property is posted . . . why? Because the owner must limit his liability. But you need to read between the lines here. I've known Mike for some time and I know that his greatest joy is seeing people enjoy the hot springs. But Mike is the owner and that legally constrains him. There are still legal and practical issues that prevent him from publicly stating an open invitation to the springs. So a visit really is on the 'sly'. As long as you are respectful of the property and the nearby Forest Service property, there is unlikely anyone who will chalenge your visit to the springs. A few regulars (like myself who are helping Mike) may remind you of the No Trespassing signs with a wink of the eye, but all in all, a visit to Scenic Hot Spring should not be a paranoid, cast an eye over your shoulder type visit.

The Sheriff's Department and FS Rangers have gone onto the property at least once since the beginning of this year but that was to investigate a potential fire. The Deputy merely noted the few people busy hiking their way up the BPA road but didn't forbid or warn anyone. Part of this is because the FS road and the BPA Access Road are for most parts on Forest Service Land and it is legal to be there. The deputy doesn't have the time or resources to go all the way to the top and catch people physically on the spring's private property.

The other reason is that there is a sort of unwritten understanding that as long as there are no more major problems up at Scenic, the KC Sheriff's department really doesn't want to butt in. They know a transformation is taking place and that the wilder elements are gone. So whether the deputy gets involved and has to make all that effort to get up to the springs is highly contiguent on there being no problems up there. A wait and see attitude.

Which brings us to the conditions. The FS road is gated and will remain so until development of a parking lot is done. DO NOT slip a motorbike around the gate. They are not allowed. There is limited parking just before that gate . . . perhaps six or seven cars. Don't even think about parking in front of the gate and blocking it . . . you will be towed if the owner or myself are blocked in.

Don't even think of parking along Highway 2 (either on the shoulders or in the chain-up areas). Likewise, you will be towed and in the process, bring undue attention on Scenic. There is limited parking down near the RR tracks (the SnoPark and Surprise Lake Trailheads) from where you can hike up. Note, you need either a SnoPark pass or a NW Forest pass to park in these areas.

Be aware that acts of vandalism are way down on the parked cars. Perhaps that is because of the lesser use of the area and perhaps because the vandals have gone on to easier pickings. In any case, secure your vehicle and DO NOT LEAVE ANYTHING VALUABLE sitting in plain view.

The hike is a mile or so up the FS road past the gate to the open BPA corridor. there is a bypass trail but hard to find unless you know specifically what to look for (hint: look for the footprints).

Once in the BPA corridor under the power lines, hike the gravel road on off to the left and up. Again, there is another bypass and footprints give it away . . . if you are looping back down, you have already passed the bypass. Continue hiking up the BPA road through the loops and switchbacks and up along the towers. Just short of the end there is a widened trail/road to the right going up into the trees. This is the trailhead and trail up to the springs, themselves. This trail has been widened for about a third of the way up. You should be crossing several log water barriers that we emplaced last year to control erosion. The first stream you step over is the Honeymoon Stream and if you look up the slope about 80 ft to your left, you will see the Honeymoon Pool fed by a spring averaging 80-90degF. The trail becomes wet and muddy, the resulting runoff from the Meadows creek area where again to the left is a clear area with lots of hot spring seepages. Soon after this, the trail narrows and the difficult part of the hike begins.

You cross another creek. This one is the runoff from the main hot springs far above. Right up ahead, the trail continues to the left and upslope while an old logging road Y's to the right. Stay on the narrow trail, always heading uphill.

There was a lot of erosion because of the early meltoff and this section is rough on the footing . . . so step carefully. It is also steep in parts. Eventually you reach the one and only switchback . . . it obvious, to the left and uphill, but not as steep now. You are close.

Follow through this canopied bench area. In another hundred feet or so you will find yourself looking down on the springs and pools. make your way down the granite boulders (there are steps cut into the hardpan). You are there.

Please respect the place and show the springs reverence. Read my article on Hot Springs Etiquette here

No DOGS! or any pets!



No boomboxes or loud partying. No rough-housing. No sexually-aggressive actions.

Keep the alcohol really low key . . . keep the damn glass bottles away from the tubs. Keep the drugs off this property, period. Several of us who work with Mike have the legal authority to throw you off the property and the Sheriff's Deputy will be there to meet you halfway back down if necessary (cell phone's do work up at the springs).

Keep the place clean . . . take out your trash with you . . . in fact, take out more.

There are a lot of 'no's' but one big 'yes'. Enjoy the springs.



  1. Anonymous8:08 AM

    You said "The Sheriff's Department and FS Rangers have gone onto the property at least once since the beginning of this year but that was to investigate a potential fire."

    Remember, this is private property and government officials can only come on it with a warrant, permission of the owner, or because they believe that people are in an immediate life threating situation (hence the fire excuse though they could probably be sued if the really didn't have probable cause).

    When government officials just come on to private land with no cause it makes them think they already own that land. Private landowners need to enforce their rights and let the government officials know - no warrant - no enterance. If private owners allow this right to be violated by the government pretty soon the government starts violating their other rights as well.

  2. Anonymous8:13 AM

    If I was a private landowner and government officials asked to come onto my land I would say, sure, you are more than welcome to.

    First may I see your warrant.

    These laws against government officials entering private property without cause are there for the protection of us all - even non-landowners.

    For if government officials believe that they can just go around trespassing upon and violating the rights of private landowners, how long will it be for them to come to believe that they can violate everyone else's rights as well?

  3. Anonymous8:17 AM

    The landowner should get a lawyer if he believes that there was no probable cause for the government officials to believe there was a potential fire on the land.

    With no probable cause this would be a case of harassment.

  4. Scenic Hot Springs is located on private property as you have noted . . . and LE and emergency officials do need probable cause to enter said property.

    Scenic is also located in a 'Fire Restricted Zone', surrounded on all four sides by National Forest Lands, cut by an easement granted to the Bonneville Power Administration and whose sole vehicular access is via a Forest Service road.

    A Fire Restricted Zone gives fire responders all the probable cause they need. This particular incident involved numerous fire lookouts spotting the plume of smoke and several flybys by aircraft before the KC Deputy and FS Ranger were dispatched to investigate.

    Personally, I have no problem with the sheriff's department coming onto the land . . . nor does the owner. Illicit activities such as drug use, vandalism, assaults, firearm discharges as well as the minor stuff like camping, campfires and littering have all gone down in the last year of increased observation.

    Law enforcement is not our enemy . . . they have a job to do and how they do their job is a reflection on how we behave up at the springs. If more insulators get shot off the BPA Towers, or a female visitor gets accosted up at the soaking pools, then the Sheriff's Department is going to act; and I fully support that. Scenic Hot Springs is not a haven for illegal activity! Scenic Hot Springs is POSTED PRIVATE PROPERTY and all the authority the sheriff's department needs is a simple phone call to or from the owner or his reps (myself or George in Skykomish) to go on the property and make arrests.

    Respectfully, Rick

  5. Anonymous7:38 AM

    As long as law enforcement has probable cause or permission from the owner from the owner himself or one of his representatives I have no problem.

    It is very good that crime is down there.

    What I do have a problem with is law enforcement coming in whenever it feels it wants to. This isn't so much against law enforcement rather than it is because I believe so strongly about private property rights.

  6. Anonymous9:09 AM

    Law enforcement does not concern me as much as other government employees. Two-bit bureaucrats who when given just a little power become tyrants.

    I don't use the word Fascist often but King County has become a fascist state. Their is absolutely no respect for private property. Government officials think they can trample all over private property rights on the slightist whim.

    We should all come over to their condo in Medina and just walk all over their place, watch their tv, raid their frig. See how those bastards like it when their private property rights are violated.

    Arrogant self righteous fascists. I am ashamed to even live in King County.

    It needs to be made clear to these people that if they are on the property, they better be on the property with the permission of the landowner either by the landowner directly or his designated agents.

    You give these people an inch and they will take a mile. If these people start treating the land like it's theirs, pretty soon it is.

  7. Anonymous9:29 AM

    I must admit that I have mixed feelings about law enforcement.

    You want to support them. You want to believe them. Police are necessary to protect people and property from those who would do it harm.

    But I also have come to the realization that police has been known to lie. They have been known to abuse the power we have entrusted them with. Not all police. Perhaps even a very few of them. But still it takes only a few to cause great harm.

    As long as it is with the permission of the property owner either directly or through his representatives, then law enforcement can serve a very positive role in protecting the Hot Springs. Illegal activity can not be tolerated and I support your efforts to provide a safe environment for protecting the springs for this as well as future generations.

    But again, I would worry about other government officials far more than the Sheriff's Department. They must not act like they already own the hotsprings. If they are on the land, the owner either directly or through his representatives should have first been notified and should have given them permission before they take one step upon the land.

    I know King County Government. I know what a bunch of elitist Fascists they are. I would love to come over to their condo without permission with a few of my friends and sit on their couch and watch their plasma tv while drinking a few microbrews I found in their refigerator.

    They are a bunch of tyrants. You give someone a little power and it goes straight to their head. They don't even believe people should have the right to own private land. They are total control freaks.

    I am ashamed to even live in King County because of them.