Jerry Johnson Hot Springs – Over Loved and Under Appreciated

Jerry Johnson Hot Springs is gorgeous, accessible, and, often, over-loved. From Highway 12 about 10 miles from the thriving metropolis of Powell, Idaho, you cross the Lochsa River on a pack bridge and continue along the trail for almost a mile and a half. The trail parallels Warm Springs Creek (apropos name) under a canopy of Western red cedar.

These primitive hot spring pools were named for a prospector, named unbelievably Jerry Johnson, who built a cabin near the springs in 1893.

The trail under the canopy of western red cedar

The trail under the canopy of western red cedar

The hot springs are actually composed of 3 separate sets of pools, which are spaced about 100 yards apart.

Mid-stream granite boulders

Mid-stream granite boulders

Waterfalls Pool is located at the base of a small cliff and adjacent to the rushing waters of the creek. The primitive trail to this pool is really steep and slick. This pool is tempered by the inflow of cold creek water, and therefore, best used in the warmer months. But soaking under a waterfall of hot water is an amazing experience.

Above the Waterfall Pool at Jerry Johnson Hot Springs

Above the Waterfall Pool at Jerry Johnson Hot Springs

The cascade of hot water

The cascade of hot water

The view from the Waterfall Pool is magnificent

The view from the Waterfall Pool is magnificent

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The streamside pool

The streamside pool

A hundred yards up the trail, you’ll arrive at the Main Pool, which is situated in a massive boulder field. There is actually a few different pools with differing temperatures that have been built up using the granite boulders from the hillside to the creekside. The largest pool, with a picturesque boulder in the middle of it, is the largest and most popular pool at Jerry Johnson.

Love this pool at Jerry Johnson Hot Springs

Love this pool at Jerry Johnson Hot Springs

Reflections of forest in the Main Pool at Jerry Johnson Hot Springs

Reflections of forest in the Main Pool at Jerry Johnson Hot Springs

The last pool is commonly called the Meadow Pool, and it another 100 or so yards further up the trail. Roughly 10 feet across, this soaking hole is shallower and cooler than the Main Pool. It is also rather muddy, and not my personal favorite

The trail to the Meadow Pool

The trail to the Meadow Pool

Soaking in the Meadow Pool

Soaking in the Meadow Pool

Getting There

From Missoula, travel south on Highway 93 to Lolo and turn right onto Highway 12. Drive over Lolo Pass into Idaho and continue west for 22 miles. Approximately a quarter mile east of mile marker 151, the parking lot located on the right side of the road.

The first view of the Main Pool

The first view of the Main Pool

Warm Springs Creek

Warm Springs Creek

Written by Radd Icenoggle

I am a native Montanan, who has spent a lifetime as an outdoors and wildlife enthusiast. I earned a degree in biology with an emphasis on habitat relations. During my studies, I had the great fortune to research and compose a thesis that explored the effects of slope aspect on...
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