Jerry Johnson Hot Springs
Location: Idaho, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest
Distance: 2.5 Miles
Type: Out and Back
Season: Year-round, but expect snow in the winter
Date Hiked: September 9, 2018
Permits and Fees: None
Description: An excellent natural hot spring next to the pretty Warm Springs Creek.
I drove up the beautiful Highway 12 along the Lochsa River in Idaho this morning, and hiked into Jerry Johnson Hot Springs for a soak. This was an excellent hot spring, with clean, hot water, and a natural setting next to Warm Springs Creek.
From the Warm Springs Trailhead, the Jerry Johnson Hot Springs are an easy 1.25 mile hike through the trees along Warm Springs Creek. The trail is flat almost the entire way, with only a couple of small grades right before the springs.
The first spring, the “Waterfall Spring,” it the warmest, and probably the most popular. It is right off the trail, at the foot of a large rock outcrop.
Hot water magically pours out of the rock here in a nice cascading waterfall. One of the other soakers measured the waterfall temperature at 113 degrees Fahrenheit, and a 105 to 95 degree gradient across the hottest pool. A few other lower pools were available at cooler temperatures, and the Warm Springs Creek offers an excellent cold plunge.
There is a second set of pools further up the trail, if the Waterfall Pool is too crowded. These were cooler and had silty, muddy bottoms, but they still looked like a nice place to soak if the Waterfall Pool is unavailable.
These hot springs were super relaxing and pretty the morning I was there. I got there early, around 8 AM on a Monday, and had the place to myself for an hour. I had a handful of other visitors come through by 11 AM when I left, but everyone was pleasant and friendly. I’ve heard that this hot spring gets busy on the weekends, especially in the summer, so I recommend a weekday, particularly early in the morning, if you are looking for peace and solitude. These springs seem to get a steady amount of visitors though, so be prepared to share while you are there. Of course, like any primitive hot spring, please pack out all your trash, and keep the area clean.
The Jerry Johnson Hot Springs are off Highway 12 in Idaho at the well marked Warm Springs Trailhead. Access is free, and there are no fees to park your car. The trail is easy to find, just look for the suspension bridge across the Lochsa River. Camping at the hot springs is not allowed and access is restricted to daytime hours (6 AM to 8 PM), but the Jerry Johnson Campground is just down the Highway to the west, with sites for $14 a night.
Official information for the Warm Springs Trailhead and Campground can be found on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest website:
Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest – Warm Springs Trailhead
Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest – Jerry Johnson Campground