Goldbug (Elk Bend) Hot Springs (Salmon, ID)

Adventured: 9 June 2015

While I was interning at Yellowstone Bear World this summer I was only able to get one day off a week. I decided to make the best of those days and explore the beautiful state of Idaho and all the things it had to offer. I had done research on various sites (Check out if you’re in that area!) to try and plan out my trips and not waste a minute of that day off. My first trip was to Goldbug Hot Springs, which is also known as Elk Bend Hot Springs due to the fact that it’s technically in Elk Bend, ID and not Salmon. Elk Bend is such a tiny place that Salmon is an easier geographical marker. 

I was headed there from Rexburg, ID, which made it about a 3 hour drive northwest to the trailhead on highway 28 then highway 93. Even without the beautiful spring waiting at the end of my drive I recommend taking a road trip across Idaho. The mountains (plateaus?) flanking either side of the highway are beautiful and there’s hardly anyone on the road. Along the way are a couple of Lewis and Clark historic points of interest that if I had more time I would have stopped at quite a few of them.

The beginning of the trail

I mentioned earlier that Salmon was bigger than Elk Bend, but even then Salmon is still a pretty tiny town. You’ll come to a four way stop sign and turn left towards Elk Bend on Hwy 93. Keep a good eye out for mile marker 282, there will be a ranch of sorts on the left and practically right after that is a dirt road on the left side. I missed it the first time and had to turn around. Take the dirt road east until it ends at a tiny parking lot, the trailhead is easily noticed on the right.

Remember, the first part of this trail is on private property, the people living in the houses at the parking lot are super nice to let the public hike this area, please thank them by being courteous to the property, trail, and structures along the way by keeping dogs on leashes, minding noise volume, and picking up after yourself. Let this trail have many more years of public access. 

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After the switchbacks is a beautiful field
Beautiful valley surrounded by mountain

The hike is a little known gem so there isn’t a lot of traffic. I met an older couple in the beginning who were just finishing and saw another couple with a tent set up and hanging out by the river about halfway through. Other than that it was just me and the back country critters.  When I finally reached the top, the pools were a welcome sight. I was able to pull shoes off and get some fun photos for about 20 minutes before I saw the dark clouds come in. It took me about 1.5 hours to get to the top with taking breaks for photos and becoming acquainted with my DSLR again but it was a brisk 25 minute high tail run back down, that camera was NOT getting wet! I closed my car door about 3 minutes before the skies opened up and started to rain. Definitely a one of a kind experience!




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