Sunday, June 11, 2017

Austin Hot Springs on the Clackamas River

Austin Hot Springs and the Clackamas River
Mt. Hood National Forest.  Oregon.  July 6, 2016.
Copyright © 2017 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved
http://www.aflitt.com/mt-hood-nf

I threw a quick post up on the blog about this spot back in 2015 and mentioned that I'd update it with some photos when I had a chance to shoot some photos...   Well, that didn't happen until 2016, and now here it is, 2017 and, at this point, I decided just to make a whole new post!

This area is off-limits to the public.  The spring itself is on private property, and there are the remains of a decommissioned PGE campground / park on the highway side of the river, which is private property, as well.

And why was the park closed?

These springs can have unexpected bursts of boiling water that can be very dangerous.

Not, ouch, that burns a little dangerous, but "hospitalized at Oregon Burn Center for two months and had three surgeries" type of dangerous.

The hot spring water runs into the river, and folks make their own "pools" in the river out of stones. Of course, the warmer you make your pool, the more at risk you are of getting scalded and boiled in a burst...

Oh, and apparently there are springs in the river too, not just these ones on the bank. Those are the ones that can send you to the hospital for months, apparently.

This is an interesting spot, but officially closed to the public and it's pretty dangerous, too. Not to mention that parking is a pain in the ass...

So, just stay away from this place.  It is interesting, but nasty.

See the links below for more information and photos of the stone rings in the river.

Austin Hot Springs
Mt. Hood National Forest.  Oregon.  July 6, 2016.
Copyright © 2017 A. F. Litt, All Rights Reserved 
http://www.aflitt.com/mt-hood-nf

Video (By Others...)




Below is a visually interesting, long video in Russian. It has some interesting shots of the site in winter. Mute is fine if you do not understand the language.




Links

 

USFS:  

Mt. Hood National Forest Water Activities
Austin Hot Springs is on privately owned land and is not under Forest Service jurisdiction. The area is closed to public access and signs indicate the danger of soaking in the Spring's sometimes up to 200 degree water.
https://www.fs.usda.gov/activity/mthood/recreation/wateractivities
Trail Advocates of the Clackamas River Ranger District of the Mount Hood National Forest:


Warm Spring Tribes purchase Austin Hot Springs property (August 20, 2015)
Discussions so far point to extensive habitat restoration work to repair the effects of mismanagement in the past. 
... 
They intend to limit public use of the area which is bad news if you are one of the many who enjoys soaking there. They do not want to block people from using the area. However, they want to remove decades of rock placed to divert the river away from the springs by users. This will return the river to rapidly flowing right over the hot springs and make that nice hot soaking hole not be one. 
https://www.trailadvocate.org/sf-forum/historical-items-of-interest/warm-spring-tribes-purchase-austin-hot-springs-property

Oregonian/OregonLive.com: 

Troutdale woman severely scalded at Austin Hot Springs sues property owner for $2.8 million (June 15, 2010)
She was hospitalized at Oregon Burn Center for two months and had three surgeries. The near-boiling water left her with scarring on her torso, arms and hands, and legs and feet. 
http://www.oregonlive.com/clackamascounty/index.ssf/2010/06/troutdale_woman_severely_scald.html

Austin Hot Springs owner in hot water with regulators (December 13, 2008)
After four people were badly burned at the Clackamas River's only hot springs this fall, the owners brought in an excavator to try to discourage the soakers once more.
What happened next is in dispute.
But the ground truth is that many of the makeshift pools are now gone, a side channel considered prime salmon habitat is blocked with debris -- and the owners, the J. Frank Schmidt Profit Sharing Trust, are in hot water with environmental regulators.
... 
The site -- owned by Portland General Electric until burning incidents prompted the utility to sell it in 1985 -- still has several unauthorized concrete-edged pools left, complete with piping to let cool water in and hot water out. 
...  
Michael Rysavy, president and chairman of the Northwest Forest Conservancy, has helped tend nearby Bagby Hot Springs and Austin for years, helping pluck out thousands of pounds of trash and cut crime at the springs. He met his wife at Bagby, and together they've visited about 150 hot springs sites.
He has a plan to make the hot springs a legitimate destination.
The 32-year-old Clackamas Realtor is trying to raise $1 million in the next year from donors and investors to buy the 152 acres of private land that includes Austin Hot Springs. He hopes to buy it for $700,000, using the remainder to begin restoring the site.
http://www.oregonlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2008/12/austin_hot_springs_owner_in_ho.html
Think before you dip into one of Oregon's hot springs (September 11, 2008)
The volcano-fueled heat at Austin Hot Springs has long been a known danger that led to an Oregon Supreme Court case more than two decades ago. 
Hot springs also can harbor rare and bizarre invisible hazards such as staph bacteria, arsenic and even a deadly amoeba that enters through your nose and eats your brain.
...there's no reliable way to mix in the right amount of cool Clackamas River water to prevent burns as scalding water surges out of the ground into homemade pools without warning. 
http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2008/09/think_before_you_dip_into_one.html
Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Austin-Hot-Springs/298895600216873

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/austinhotsprings

Oregon Hot Springs:
At 186ºF the water at Austin Hot Springs is extremely hot, and the utmost care needs to be taken in making sure not to burn yourself while finding an area comfortable enough to soak.   
As mentioned above, the springs are very hot and need to be mixed with river water in order to be comfortable enough for soaking. Depending on season, river height, and use, there will likely be several rock rings built for just such a purpose. These rings create tolerable pools, but be sure to test the temperature to find one you can bear. You may need to mix the water as well.
Many thanks go out to the Northwest Forest Conservancy for making this site usable.
http://oregonhotsprings.immunenet.com/austin.htm
SoakOregon.com - Austin Hot Springs:
Please be aware of Austin’s 200+ degree bursts of hot water and use extreme caution when soaking in this spring. There are suitable spots to soak, just be very careful to not scald yourself. A waterproof digital thermometer can help locate burst zones.
Posted 4/19/2012:
"This natural hot spring, heated by volcanic activity, sits in and along the Clackamas River, among the pristine trees of the Mt. Hood National Forest. There could be several rock pools along the river suitable for qualification depending on the season. Please be aware of Austin’s 200+ degree bursts of hot water and use extreme caution when soaking in this spring. There are suitable spots to soak, just be very careful to not scald yourself. A waterproof digital thermometer can help locate burst zones." 
"...J. Frank Schmidt now owns the land. PGE had it in the 60’s and 70’s, where it once had a campground. But PGE closed the campground in the late 70’s because Russian immigrants were living there full time and threatening others who attempted to camp there. PGE turned it into a day use only park for a few years. After a few lawsuits in the early 80’s for people being scalded, PGE closed the park and tore out the footbridge. They then sold the property. Schmidt bought it hoping to develop it into another Brightbush Resort type location… but failed to gain the permits and codes to do such. After being sued twice, he took measures to make access to the area difficult. It has been up for sale for at least 3 years now, but he is wanting too much for it."   
http://soakoregon.com/austin-hot-springs/




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