Heading north of Fairfield, ID into the Sawtooth National Forest is a beautiful sight. Enjoy mountain peaks, clear rivers, and beautiful hot springs! Remember to leave no trace when visiting. Pack out whatever you bring in.
Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Plan Ahead and Prepare. Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you’ll visit
- Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
- Dispose of Waste Properly
- Leave What You Find
- Minimize Campfire Impacts
- Respect Wildlife
- Be Considerate of Other Visitors
The entire drive through the national forest is stunning. Follow google maps to get to the trailhead called “Skillern Hot Springs.” Prepare for rough gravel roads, curving with the mountains. It takes about an hour from Fairfield to drive to the trailhead. The last option for service is the Smokey Bar Store, which is located at the left side of the fork before the trailhead located to the right of the fork.
Check the weather before you go! The road is closed to vehicles once a heavy snow has fallen, and will not open back up until all of the snow is melted between June or July. The hot springs are best in the summer and fall. Fall will bring gorgeous colors as the trees change.
*The road is not accessible year round.
Skillern Hot Springs is a 6-mile, round trip hike. The drive from Fairfield takes about an hour. Find a large parking lot and a map with information at the trailhead. The trail is very clearly marked, and follows a beautiful clear river – glowing with slippery rocks below the surface. After walking about two miles on the fairly simple dirt path, you will come to a fork in the road. This sign says ‘High Trail,’ ‘Low Trail.’ The arrows point one way or another. The High Trail makes for some awesome cardio, and the Low Trail crosses the river 3-4 times.
After another mile of gorgeous hiking, the Skillern Hot Srings sign will appear. At first, the hot springs are not clearly visible so look for hot water dripping down a large boulder, colored in reds and oranges. These drips lead to pockets of water below the boulder, right next to the river. Follow the boulder around its bend – carefully navigating the slippery rocks. This will lead to an awesome little bathtub-shaped hot spring on the edge of the boulder! The steam rolls off the side of the rocks creating a beautiful glow from the sun.
This hike requires lots of water, endurance, and perseverance, but is worth every minute. Remember if choosing to take the low trail you will have to cross a flowing river. It is not for the faint of heart, and we suggest not doing it barefoot. The high trail may be a better choice for most.
Not many people know of these secluded hot springs, so always bring a bag to pick up and carry out any trash you may see. It is extra important to keep this area clean to assure future generations are able to use the pool as well! Thank you for being responsible. Enjoy a peaceful soak in the forest at Skillern Hot Springs.
Hikers and mountain bikers can also visit from the north in the Wood River area. There is a campground with toilets at the trail head and primitive camp sites above and below the springs.Please note again that the road is closed October through Mid-May – depending on the snow level.
Where to stay to hike to Skillern Hot Springs? The Prairie Inn in Fairfield, or a nearby Airbnb. Where to eat after hiking Skillern Hot Springs? In Fairfield there are a few options such as Soldier Creek Brewing, The Wrangler, and The Mushers Mug for coffee in the morning.