Middle Fork Road just outside of North Bend, WA has been under construction in some form since dinosaurs roamed the earth. However, a series of small landslides washed out sizable sections of the road leading to some of the Seattle area’s best hiking and camping, rendering the road impassable to any motor vehicles short of Bigfoot V. While that sucks for those who insist on travelling by car, it’s a boon for those of us who don’t mind powering our own adventures.
I recently heard about Goldmyer Hot Springs, which is a 20 mile trek up what’s left of the Middle Fork Road to an old mining camp featuring a volcanic spring that spews hot water out of the side of a mountain like a college freshman who’s bonged one too many Peebers. At some point, someone decided to corral this spewing flow and create a couple of small jacuzzi tubs and a grotto carved into an old mine shaft…heh heh…shaft. Thus, creating the Goldmyer Hot Springs “resort.”
It is highly recommended that you call and make reservations at Goldmyer, as they only allow 20 people per day to pass through the area. There’s no just “popping in” to take a peek.
Entry to the hot springs is $15. Oddly, it’s only another $5 to spend the night in one of a handful of unique campsites. I’m bad at math, but I think there are roughly 10 sites to choose from, each with its own flavah. I chose site #1 because it was the easiest to access with my Spinnabago single speed cross bike towing a craigslist BOB trailer.
The ride up was the longest 20 miles of my life. Single speed cyclocross bike with a trailer meant walking and portaging sections I probably could have cleaned on a geared MTB. Live and learn, I guess. Most of the road is potholed gravel. Only a few sections are truly washed out, but probably doable on a more off-road oriented bicycle.
But not having to worry about a single car was peaceful and fantastic!
Once I got just a few miles away from the newly “improved” Mailbox Peak trailhead area, I only saw a couple of mountain bikers and one or two errant hikers the entire trip.
There is no water on the road up or at Goldmyer, so be sure to bring filtration equipment. I carry a Lifestraw with me and designate an old water bottle to crappy water duty so I don’t have to carry extra water with me all the time. Since this trip parallels the middle fork of the Snoqualmie river most of the way, stopping to refill on unfiltered water is never a problem. The river also cuts through the campgrounds at Goldmyer, so that’s handy, too. I also brought along a 96 oz Nalgene collapsible bottle to reduce the number of trips to the river once at camp.
When you “check in” with the caretakers at Goldmyer, you get your choice of a couple of sizes of bear canisters to choose from. I guess that’s what the extra 5 bucks is for. The campsites are first come first served. Since the road access is pretty much nonexistent, you should probably have your pick of the bunch. Each campsite has its own unique features, as well as a simple line and pulley system to hang your bear can. Most have old mining equipment biodegrading away, which I thought was pretty cool. The “resort” features the nicest outhouse I’ve ever seen. It’s clean and heated with gas (no pun intended). The caretakers provide TP, Glade poop smell camouflage spray and hand sanitizer.
Glass bottles and campfires are not allowed at Goldmyer. However, you can cook on a camp stove at your campsite. I brought along my trusty $30 Esbit solid fuel stove, which works great for solo trips. No alcohol or weed is allowed at the hot springs themselves, but you can drink at your campsite so long as things don’t get out of hand. Basically, don’t be a dick, and you should be fine.
Speaking of dicks, Goldmyer is classified as a “clothing optional” place of relaxation, so just be aware of that.
If you make a trip to Goldmyer and enjoy yourself so much that you want to stay, they are looking for caretakers for a 4 month summer stint. You are afforded a cool cabin to live in, complete with satellite TV and interwebs and a stipend to help pay for your real world bills.