A Trail to 100 Hot Spring Areas Explained
Like a choose-your-own-adventure for hot springers, The Hot Springs Trail gives adventurer-soakers the opportunity to visit 100 hot spring areas. But as you’ll see, not all 100 of these areas are on-trail - in the purist sense. Find out what it takes to truly thru-soak this trail and what should be expected at a minimum.
Diving in, there are 3 main ways that the Hot Springs Trail visits 100 hot spring areas. Let’s look at each of them and see how they affect the overall journey; plus, you’ll learn a few secrets about the trail that I bet you didn’t know yet.
3 ways The Hot Springs Trail visits 100 Hot Spring Areas
Method 1: Off-trail
16 hot spring areas are visited this way.
12 out of these 16 off-trail hot spring areas will be encountered ‘on-trail’ if using the bike option that is included in the guidebook. The other 4 are located near the trail but are not exactly on it. The distance to visit these 16 areas has not been included in the overall hiking mileage.
How many extra miles are required to visit these 16 hot spring areas if attempting to thru-hike this trail in a purist fashion?
Well, assuming that you walked the Ketchum Arm Bike Option thru Ketchum (which adds 30.6m of lightly traveled roads that can be hitched), and walked the Stanley’s Salmon River Spur both ways (25m, this can also be hitched), it would be 5.4 extra miles to reach the other 3 areas; equaling:
61 Extra Miles
This addition however, does not include a visitation to Lolo Hot Springs Resort, which is an official resupply point for the trail that is currently accessed by a lengthy but easy hitch, 30 miles each way.
*This leads us to Secret #1: In 2018, the Hot Springs Trail is likely going to be rerouted in a way that it will not only pass thru Lolo Hot Springs Resort ‘on-trail’ but it will also visit 2 other resupply opportunities directly and an appropriately named peak as well: Hot Springs Point. Stay tuned for updates regarding this.
Sub-mileages and traveling descriptions for these off-trail hot spring areas have been included in the guidebooks.
Method 2: Out & Back
31 hot spring areas are visited this way.
A significant portion of the Hot Springs Trail’s 100 hot spring areas are only obtainable by hiking or traveling out & back. These segments can range from being a quick 0.5m side-exploration, to an 11.5m excursion. In this case, the out & back journey leads to a fire lookout tower and a 100-year-old hot springs resort - Red River.
The boomerang question then is, how much of the HST's current total mileage is miles visiting these 31 out & back areas?
*Secret #2: The ironic part is that while the tendency is to want to skip these areas due to the out & back nature of their approach, these are oftentimes the springs with the best chances of having a high-quality, solitary soaking experience.
Method 3: On-trail
??? hot spring areas are visited this way.
And now we’ve come to the bottom line. A result that I simply had to know after thinking about this for the first time just the other day:
How many hot spring areas can be visited on the Hot Springs Trail, without repeating any miles to get them?
Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.
*Secret #3: Including Barth Hot Springs, which is encountered along the pack-rafting option down the Salmon River, there are actually 101 hot spring areas that are mentioned in the guidebook; truly making this trail a Soaktennial to commerate.
So what can we learn from all this?
That the Hot Springs Trail is a choose-your-own-adventure style trail that leads to 101 hot spring areas if following the multi-sport recommendations that are in the guidebook…and…that even if you complete this trail as a purist hike that avoids repeating any miles or visiting the springs that are on the resupply runs, you will still visit 53 hot spring areas during the course of this journey, which in and on itself is pretty F'NBA!
Just thought this was worth explaining…
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