The Cougar Hot Springs, also known as Terwilliger Hot Springs, is one of the most popular thermal springs in the region. Located west of Eugene, Oregon, it’s often flooded with people, regardless of the season.
Accessible by following the quarter-mile trail, the entire route to the springs is amidst lush green woodland. The Willamette National Forest creates an ambiance where only filtered sunlight reaches the ground, creating a greenish and darkened glow on the pathway.
Natural Hot Springs Pools
Hot Cougar Springs features 6 different pools, which are separated into distinguishable ‘steps’ through solid rock walls. The temperature in the lowest pool is around 85°F or 30°C, and gradually increases to 112°F or 44°C for the uppermost pool.
The width of the pools is between 3 feet and 12 feet and the depth is around 2 feet to 3 feet. The floor of the six pools is bedrock in most places, but you can find sand, gravel, and debris in certain areas as well.
To soak in these pools, guests must pay a small fee for a day pass, which is valid until sunset. This pass provides access to the parking lot, trail, hot springs areas, and the lagoon.
The springs can only be used during the daytime and are closed on Thursdays, from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm, for cleaning purposes. The springs are open throughout the year, but Forest Service Road 19 may be closed if there is heavy snow or too much ice.
Note: Clothing is optional in the area, but mandatory on Forest Road 19.
Amenities and Camping
An information kiosk has been set up on-site where the staff on duty can answer your queries. Clothing racks, garbage receptacles, and vault toilets are also available. There is a parking lot about 0.2 miles away from the trail and capacity is limited. Since this spring is popular, visitors should plan on arriving earlier to make sure spots are open.
For those looking to spend the night, the Cougar Recreation Area is nearby and sites can be rented for a small fee at Cougar Crossing Campground. There is no drinking water in this area, so visitors should make sure to pack all supplies necessary for their trip.
To get to the trail for the springs:
- From the Blue River, head east roughly 4 miles until you hit forest road 19 (Aufderheide Dr.)
- Head in 5 miles and you will see signs for the hot springs with parking available
- There is roughly a quarter-mile hiking trail called Rider Creek Trail that will take you to the site
Another option within the same Willamette National Forest is Belknap Hot Springs. It’s located 18 miles from Terwilliger Hot Springs. Belknap is a fully developed resort, complete with on-site lodging and camping.
Address: Willamette National Forest, Oregon 97413
Season: Year-round | Road 19 may be closed due to snow and ice