Cougar Hot Springs, also known as Terwilliger Hot Springs, is one of many hot springs near Eugene, Oregon. On a recent hot spring tour through Oregon, this was my favorite that we visited, and I’ll share why! Read on to find out how to get to cougar hot springs, where to camp, what fees to expect and so much more!
Land Acknowledgement: Molalla and Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Find what Native Land you are visiting by using the app Native Land! I encourage you to read the history and culture of the Indigenous people who’s land you are visiting! Consider visiting nearby cultural centers and seeking out other ways to financially support Indigenous People.
- Know Before You Go: Hot Springs Etiquette
- About Cougar Hot Springs in Oregon
- What Temperature are the Terwilliger Pools?
- Getting to Cougar Hot Springs
- Getting in to Cougar Hot Springs
- The Trail to Terwilliger Hot Springs
- What Time of Year is Best to Visit?
- What Days and Times are Best?
- Camping Near Cougar Hot Springs
- Hikes Near Cougar Hot Springs
- Make it a Road Trip!!
Know Before You Go: Hot Springs Etiquette
Let’s start by brushing up on Hot Spring etiquette. Maybe you’ve been to a few hot springs, but you might learn something that can help keep these hot springs around longer for everyone to enjoy!
Read my Hot Springs Etiquette Guide HERE. Comment if you think anything needs to be added, or in general I would just love your opinion!
- Leave No Trace
- No Glass
- Clothing Optional
- What goes in a pool, stays in a pool (don’t bathe or urinate in these)
- Watch out for trash/glass (wear protective footwear down to the pools)
- Be polite and keep your noise to a normal level.
About Cougar Hot Springs in Oregon
Terwilliger or Cougar Hot Springs near Eugene Oregon lies in the Willamette National Forest near Rider Creek Falls
The hot springs consist of 4 geothermal soaking pools, separated by rocks. Each pool is roughly 2-3 feet deep and has rock and gravel pool floors. Maneuvering around in the hot springs can be challenging. I definitely almost fell a few times.
Watch a TikTok Video of my weekend of Hot Springs:
What Temperature are the Terwilliger Pools?
The water flows from the top pool down to the bottom. Since the top pool is closest to the source, this will be the hottest pool at around 112 degrees F. The bottom pool will run around 85 degrees F.
I definitely had to keep taking breaks in the top pool as I would get really warm and start sweating. The second pool seemed to be the sweet spot for me.
Getting to Cougar Hot Springs
UPDATE as of 10/14/21: Forest Service Road 19 also known as Aufderheide drive is closed to thru traffic near mile post 52 on the north side due to rock slide activity.
- 45 minutes from McKenzie Bridge Oregon
- 1.5 hours from Eugene Oregon
- 3.5 hours from Portland
Directions to Cougar Hot Springs
Route to Cougar Crossing Campground on Google Maps and follow these directions below to make sure it is routing you the correct way.
When coming from Eugene, Oregon on HWY 126, turn right onto Forest Road 19 (FSR 19) or Aufderheide Drive. Turn LEFT when you arrive at the fork at Cougar Reservoir. Continue for about 2 miles, and then turn right onto FSR 500.
I do not remember FSR 500 being marked but if you have your map open you’ll be able to see it. You will be hugging the Reservoir on the maps. This will be a gravel road that has numerous pot holes, but nothing extreme.
When you arrive at signs for Cougar Crossing Campground, cross over the bridge and continue until you arrive at a small parking lot with the road blocked. You will dead end into the trailhead for Cougar Hot Springs and there will be an attendant taking money and giving you wristbands.
Getting in to Cougar Hot Springs
The parking lot at the trailhead is pretty small. I’d estimate it could fit roughly 15-20 cars.
The trail begins on the left side of the road barrier. An attendant will approach you and collect $7 from you. This can be paid in cash OR card.
No passes are honored here. You will receive a wristband upon payment. The Rules and payment are enforced by American Land and Leisure.
Any questions about the rules or payment should be directed to the McKenzie River Ranger Station at 541-822-3381. When in doubt if these hot springs are open, call the ranger station.
Rules at Terwilliger (Cougar) Hot Springs
- No Alcohol
- Day Use Only – You must be out at sunset
- 2 hour soaking period
- Up to 50 people allowed at once. You will have to wait if it is at capacity.
- No Pets Allowed
- Camping is NOT allowed at the Parking Lot
- Clothing is Optional
The Trail to Terwilliger Hot Springs
The trail to get to the hot springs is an easy and short out and back trail.
- .4 miles to get there, .8 miles round-trip
- 91 feet elevation gain
I do not think special footwear is necessary. I wore Teva Sandals that had a heel strap and was very comfortable.
This is on AllTrails if you are wanting to see other reviews and more information.
What Time of Year is Best to Visit?
Cougar Hot Springs is open year round, however the roads to get there are not maintained for snow and ice in the winter.
I went in Early October and thought it was perfect. There was Fall color, no snow and it wasn’t too busy. I think in general early-late Fall is the most scenic time of year to visit.
Winter can be breathtaking with snow on the ground at the hot spring, but it can be harder to plan and predict as the roads could be too snowed in.
Summer can be tricky due to wildfire season. This area recently was affected by a wildfire and the burn damage is evident on the drive there and at the hot springs themselves.
What Days and Times are Best?
Cougar Hot Springs is CLOSED every Thursday from 8 am to 12pm for cleaning. It is so nice to know these hot springs are carefully managed. We happened to go on a Friday and enjoyed nice clean pools.
In general, if you can go during the week vs the weekend, you’ll have less crowds of people. Since I went on a Friday, I made sure to get up for sunrise and get there and was lucky enough to have the pools to ourselves for an hour or so.
I checked with the attendant to make sure sunrise would be okay and they said it is fine and they will come up to the hot spring in the morning or catch you on the way out for payment.
Sunrise is the best bet to get it to yourself. We also went at sunset and while it wasn’t at capacity, it was harder to find a spot to relax as the pools are pretty small when shared with a dozen people.
Camping Near Cougar Hot Springs
There are a few camping options very close by that are perfect for a night or two.
Cougar Crossing Campground
This is the closest campground to the hot spring with the current road closure. It is roughly 5 minutes away from the hot springs trailhead parking lot.
Coordinates: 44.05819515, -122.21985855
This campground is $15 a night. Fill out an envelope with cash at the entrance. Card may be an option on the envelope.
- Vault Toilets
- No Drinking Water
- Picnic Tables
- First Come First Served
- Open Year Round (roads not maintained in winter)
- 11 sites available for both RV and Tents
- No Cell Services
- Campfire Rings (always check fire bans in the area)
Tip: I advise grabbing a campsite during the day as some of them are tucked away and hard to find. Also, this way, you can reserve a spot before everyone soaking at sunset comes to get their spot.
Open 4/30/21 – 9/6/21
Slide Creek Campground
Open 4/30/21 – 9/6/21
Hikes Near Cougar Hot Springs
- Castle Rock Trail: 8.4 miles, 2,106 feet elevation. Rated Moderate
- Blue River Lake North East Trail: 3.6 miles, 793 feet elevation. Rated Moderate
Make it a Road Trip!!
Wanting to add on more Hot Springs? Check out my other blog posts:
Another nearby Favorite:
Pin it and Save it for Later! Let me know in the comments if you’ve been to a hot spring before!