A gold rush in the late 1800s brought Robert Bagby, a prospector and hunter, to the Mount Hood area. He apparently never found much gold there, but he did discover and promptly name these hot springs after himself. Bagby, however, left it at that, due to the springs remote location he did very little to develop them.
In 1913 the first structure was erected at the springs, a log cabin that served as a Forest Service ranger station through the 1940s. The cabin is now on the National Register of Historic Places, and occasionally open for tours. By the late 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps had built the first bathhouse at Bagby Hot Springs, which featured five separate rooms, containing the first bathtubs carved out of large cedar logs.
The spring water is channeled by a system of pipes and wooden flumes into the bath houses and tubs. The private tubs are 10 feet long cedar logs that have been hollowed out. There are also several public circular tubs near the private bathhouses and a more private circular tub in its own bathhouse. From the source, the water is 136 degrees Fahrenheit, and wooden buckets of cold spring water are provided to mix to your desired temperature. Soap is not allowed, and Bagby provides brushes for cleaning your tub after use. Nudity is allowed, if not expected. The springs may be enjoyed 24 hours a day at all times of year, but in the dead of winter, expect a more difficult hike.
There were few early visitors, as they had an arduous three day trek through winding forest trails, accompanied by a mule packed high with supplies. They were no doubt rewarded with a good hot foot soaking upon arrival. However, in 1960 a new logging trail brought visitors to within a couple of miles of the hot springs and after 80 years of relative obscurity, its popularity soared.
Following a fire in 1979, the Friends of Bagby Hot Springs, a volunteer group, re-built, and expanded upon the original site. It is now managed by Northwest Forest Conservancy and the USDA Forest Service.
With its rustic cedar log tubs, and several large group baths, Bagby Hot Springs in the Mount Hood National Forest makes for a wonderfully relaxing day trip from Portland, Oregon. To reach the springs, there is an easy 1.4 mile walking hike through an old growth forest that is so breath-taking it would be worth a trip on its own.