written by Kjersten Hellis | photos by Charlotte Dupont
In the midst of a lush and mossy forest lies a natural hot spring with an almost magical quality. Five cascading pools of milky blue water flow down the hill and make up Terwilliger Hot Springs, more commonly called Cougar Hot Springs, near Blue River, halfway between Eugene and Sisters.
Each pool gets progressively cooler as it flows downhill, so you can always find the perfect temperature. To reach the pools, drive through winding roads and pass the reservoir with sweeping views of the valley. A day-use pass for the area is $6, and there is a well-monitored parking area for your car as you walk the quarter-mile trail to the hot spring.
While natural beauty abounds, the pools may not be for the faint of heart—clothing is optional. Be prepared to encounter soakers who are not afraid to bare it all. Nudists aside, you will feel at peace as you gaze into the gorgeous canopy and soak your troubles away.
Cougar Hot Springs
Four miles east of Blue River on Oregon Highway 126 to Forest Road 19, five miles to the parking area.