Cougar Hot Springs

Cougar Hot Springs Near McKenzie Bridge in Oregon

Located deep beneath the canopy of a primeval forest, clothing optional Cougar AKA Terwilliger Hot Springs features a chain of stair-stepped pools fed by a small cave in a wooded ravine. Each of the 5 rock walled pools is slightly cooler than the other starting from 112 and ending near 90 degrees.

Cougar Hot Springs is open year-round and lies in wait at the end of a quarter mile stroll through the Willamette National Forest. Northwest Forest Passes are no longer accepted here, the only way to soak is to pay a $6/day fee or purchase a season pass for $60/year.

Despite the presence of a manned kiosk, Cougar maintains it’s station as one of Oregon’s finest. The current commercial operator American Land & Leisure has helped reduce the number of vehicle break-ins and vandals that have plagued this hot springs for years.

Cougar Hot Springs - Top View

Cougar Hot Springs is closed from sunset to sunrise and heavily patrolled day and night. Because of Terwilliger’s colorful history, brutal fines are doled out to all violators. FYI, Cougar is closed every Thursday from 8 am to 12 pm for cleaning.

Cougar Hot Springs Map and Directions

Travel east 4 miles on Highway 126 from Blue River and then take Forest Road 19 AKA Aufderheide Drive 5 miles to the signed Terwilliger Hot Springs parking area. Hike 1/4 mile west on Rider Creek Trail #3319 to Terwilliger Hot Springs.

Cougar Hot Springs Videos

Cougar Hot Springs Soak Stats:

Season: All (check roads during winter – frequent closures)
Type: Hike
GPS: 44.083 122.233
Map Quad: MCKENZIE BRIDGE 15 or Willamette National Forest Map
Elevation: 1,700
Land: Willamette National Forest
Fee: Yes ($6/day or $60/year)
Restrictions: Nighttime closure
Usage: High
Visibility: Moderate
Temp: 112-85
Water Clarity: Clear
Odor: n/a
pH: n/a
Area Features: Cougar Reservior, Rider Creek Waterfall
Closest Food/Gas: Eugene/Bend
Trash: Moderate-Low
Bugs: Moderate-High (seasonally)
Wildlife: Moderate
Camping: Nearby, no on-site
Clothing Optional: Yes
Pit Toilet: Yes


  1. I LOVE this hot springs!! I came here with some friends for the weekend – we rented a vacation cabin at nearby McKenzie River mountain Resort. We did some hiking on the surrounding trails and then relaxed the afternoon away each day here at the hot springs. Quite possibly my new favorite place!

  2. Does anyone know how the government shutdown effects access to these hot springs?

  3. really rad place. went in september and watched the sun come up.

  4. Cougar Hot Springs is a place the rainbow Gathering took over for years. Wish I could of been there then!! One of my best friends, bless her soul, April Leper took me here over 30 times, rain, snow, hot, cold, we always had a blast. Sneak, sneak into the springs after dark and watch the stars, climb up into the cave that the hot water comes from and make love. The hot water is running under you as Ice cold water trickles from the top ;of the cave and makes a great rolling around spot., and no I did not mean to go there against the rules and not pay the fee and go with candles up the trail late at night and defy the authority by looking at the stars and moon while sitting and soaking making your skin ever so soft. Like my dad always said, pick up more than you brought in and maybe it will be there the next time you want to go!! Many campgrounds up past the hotsprings. Watch out for the raccoons are getting vicious and I mean seriously. Was waving a long stick light with fire on the end and they were still hissing and jumping at us as they were taking all our food. They kept coming at us. The best we could do was stay in out vehicle and let them take it all. Or make sure u have a pellet gun/bb gun and a couple dogs!!!

  5. Had a blast on Saturday morn. The air and vibe was perfect. The top tub next to the cave was closed and the water was not as warm as I was hoping for. I pretty much spent a good deal of time letting the waterfall hit the back of my neck and pour over me in the second tub cause it was almost warmer then the top tub. All in all clean fun relaxing and blissful. Until the woman came who wanted to talk about her toenail that was turning black and blue and about to fall off. Sheesh really.

  6. FYI, the top pool remains closed

    Lower pools are good to go!

  7. June O'Connor Hamlin

    August 6, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    Hi, I was here today with my husband and daughter and left my sunglass case with my credit card and my daughter’s hat. I was wondering if anyone has found it? If so, please let me know! Or if you happen to know where I could ask, that would be really helpful! Thanks so much!! June

  8. My wife and I went yesterday, all the pools were open, and we had a fantastic time! The scenery on the drive in is amazing, and it only gets better when you’re sitting in the pools! This has been our favorite hot springs so far! I would definitely recommend checking these ones out, and will be sure to go back!

  9. Is this a private place? Like there’s no enforcement or forest people there? How late can you stay?

  10. There is a $6 fee/person I believe. There is a small hut at the beginning of the trail and a fee collector person to greet you. If he isn’t there you will most likely run into him on the way down, as he keeps the place clean. Closes at dusk. Great spring but can get crowded

  11. Is it pet friendly? Do you know where are the pet friendly hot springs in oregon? Thanks

  12. How crowded is it this time of year? March?

  13. How busy is it during the end of april?

  14. Is it possible to take a mobility scooter to get there?

  15. I just went to Cougar hot springs a few days ago and it was amazing! The pools were great and spacious (4-5 can fit per), with the hottest spring at the top with the cooler ones as you walk down the path. The area is very pretty, with the wooded canopy making a nice shaded area – meaning, you don’t need sunscreen!

    The people I met were very friendly, and there was a solid mix of nude, half-nude, and clothed people. I would definitely recommend that you go earlier in the morning to avoid the crowd (I left around noon and it started to get packed). The person who maintains the springs cleans it out every Thursday in preparation for the weekend.

    To answer the questions above:
    – You are supposed to stay sunrise-sunset, but I was told that there was a ‘night crowd’ that come and bring alcohol and trash. Not cool…
    – It sounds like it is crowded more in the Spring and Summer, but gets year-round use because of how warm the pools can get.
    – The path is wonderful, but not accessible by scooter. It is about a 1/2 mile hike up and around the mountain.
    – It is not pet-friendly, at least as far as I know. There is no smoking or glass bottles allowed either.
    – As said before, it is $6 per day (you can come back the same day if you want to get lunch). There are 2 small ‘changing’ areas near the springs, for those of us who want to be naked. While there is no true enforcement, it is meant to be nudist-friendly, not sexual.
    – They have a toilet above a hole a bit up the path from the springs. It isn’t glamorous, but will do if you need it. My understanding is that the caretaker is trying to upgrade to have a truth bathroom nearby.

  16. Hey on Thursday do they reopen at 1pm?

  17. Does anyone know if these are dog friendly? Thanks!

  18. Cougar / Terwilliger Hot Springs is managed by American Land and Leisure via a contract with U.S.F.S.

    There is a $6.00 fee per person to enter. Aged 12 and under are free. This fee is good for a full day. Come and go as you please. This fee pays for staffing, cleaning, supplies, maintenance, etc.

    Cougar/ Terwilliger Hot Springs is pet friendly with a dog tie-up area just a short walk from the springs.

    The springs are closed for cleaning every Thursday from 8AM until noon and are open afterwards. The crew works hard to keep Terwilliger Hot Springs clean. Please respect the closure hours.

    Clothing optional, yes. Lewd behavior, no.

    Be very careful with cameras. Photography
    /video recording is prohibited without explicit permission from any peoples photographed or recorded.

    Parking is limited. The parking lot has a 25 vehicle limit. Parking on the shoulder of Rd. 19 is illegal for 1 mile in either direction of the springs. Heavy fines await those who violate this statute.

    Any person entering Terwilliger Hot Springs before dawn or after dusk is trespassing on U.S.F.S. land and is subject to a heavy fine.

    It is the goal of the of American Land And Leisure to to manage Cougar/Terwilliger Hot Springs with safety, security, and health as our focus.

    Enjoy the springs. We work hard to ensure that you do.

  19. Antonia G Kitto

    October 26, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    any recs for good camping near here?

  20. We stopped and soaked at the hot springs on Sunday October 23rd and forgot our red olympus camera. It’s a total long shot but if anyone by chance found it we’d love to retrieve it! Thanks you!

  21. I also am curious if they’re open right after they’re cleaned on Thurs. That’s the only day I have off.

  22. Visited yesterday and loved it. However, two things have changed since the text on this site was written. There is no longer a cave above the pools; it was completely filled with stones at some point. Additionally, the top pool is only around 102 degrees now. This number was provided by the person who accepted our fee at the kiosk, and it felt accurate when we got in. Happy soaking, fellow travelers!

  23. Are they open thanksgiving?

  24. Sure are! Get there early! Happy Trails!

  25. Nice, thanks for the update!

  26. I believe they are.

  27. There are a couple forest service campground nearby along with a few dispersed (primitive) camping options. Closest is Slide Creek Campground.

  28. Awesome, thanks for the update guys!

  29. Dogs are not permitted in or around the pools. However, there is an area to tie up well behaved doggies not far from the pools.

  30. Thanks for the reminder! Always pack your trash out and never bring glass! Do bring a smile! 😉

  31. Probably not due to having to hike a trail to reach the pools.

  32. Cougar is always busy. Go early on weekdays for your best bet.

  33. Always crowded… go early on weekdays if possible.

  34. Anyone spending their weekend there? Any current info would be helpful.

  35. Has anyone been in the past few weeks?

  36. If roads are closed due to snow is it still accessible via a hike?

  37. I will be in Oregon in March and I want to know if there are any changes, new rules, or new fees I should be aware of. Thank you so much.

  38. I went here on a Saturday in mid-march and it was fairly crowded. About half nude and half clothed. The water wasn’t as warm as I expected and the bottom pool was completely cold. Decent drive in though the roads are narrow on a semi windy road. Beware of deep potholes right past the “Loose Gravel” sign. Nearly took off our front bumper. Beautiful scenery and great experience though.

  39. went today around 3pm-5pm. It was fairly crowded, the trail was somewhat muddy. With a small group of friends it was fun, however, the largest and warmest pool was overcrowded with nude people, which was fine, but not our style. The water was kind of gross but could have been worse.
    Overall enjoyable experience, would have been more fun without the nude crowd, but we knew what we were getting into.

  40. Not really into being totally naked around strangers but met some nice girls , who were, and had a good time talking to them and visiting with the crowds that started filtering in. The water was a little cooler than say Bagby but it was good clean fun, no drugs or effing on site which was nice. Very ideal picturesque nature area, sad that there are so many dams out there, but its not as overran as Mt Hood National forest tends to be and there are some good fishing runs down there.

  41. Sad news friends, access to Cougar is currently closed in both directions until further notice due to a landslide. Here is the news article:

  42. Does anyone know if the hot springs are open again?

  43. Are the springs open now?

  44. Just what’s up there this weekend and the road is still closed they haven’t even started to move it rocks out of wood be a couple months

  45. Access to Cougar has been CLOSED winter and spring 2018 due to a massive rockslide on access road Jan 2018.
    Here is latest from FS

    “3/26/2018: Access to Terwilliger Hot Springs and the west side of Cougar Reservoir and from Forest Service Road 19 (Aufderheide Scenic Byway) remains blocked due to rockfall. There is no safe way to reach the hot springs at this time. Forest Order 06-18-01-18-06”

  46. Claire Hulstrom

    May 5, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    When I went there 2 weeks ago road was closed to everything. Foot traffic and all 🙁

  47. Does anybody know if the road has reopened at this time? I am coming to Oregon in mid June and I would love to visit the springs.

  48. Still closed in both directions. Rockslide to the north, road construction to the south. No official word on when. Even though it seems the trailhead should be accessible from the non-rockslide side, the local officials have been telling folks that nobody is allowed at the hot springs.

  49. Here’s the latest info about the Terwilliger fire:

    Hoping and praying the hot springs survived.

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