Friends of Cougar News 2002


By Greg Thorne


12/13/02: The pools are cooler due to the recent rain. Today they were 103.3, 103.2, 101.5 and 97.4 degrees.

12/1/02: It was a busy Sunday today at Cougar. The parking lot was full from about 1pm-3pm. About 20 people in the top 5 pools. Many smiles were seen as the Naked Gourmet  served up delicious pool-side cooking. Watch out for slippery black ice conditions on the FS19 road to Cougar.

11/26/02: The pools are still nice and hot. The cold water is flowing well, too. It's a great time to be at Cougar.

10/30/02: Sunset Nov 1 is 5:03pm. On Nov 15 it's 4:46, and on Nov 30 it's 4:36pm. Earliest sunset for the year is December 8-10 at 4:34. Thereafter the sunset will be later in the day. Yeah! The latest sunset in summer will be 9:00 pm from June 22-July 1, 2003.

10/23/02: The hot springs will be closed from Oct. 28-31.    In those 4 days the Forest Service will be installing a precast concrete double vaulted toilet at the southend of the parking area. And also will be pumping the 2 composting toilets above the springs. The water from the pools is needed to clean out the vaults and the added aroma won't make it a pleasant place to be.  The funding for this project is from NWFP and PAYCO dollars collected.

10/13/02: Everything is great at Cougar Hot Springs. Pools are hot; 112-degrees at the top, down to 101-degrees in the 4th pool down. Forest Service still has not removed "temporary" cement. Please voice your disapproval to them: McKenzie Bridge Ranger District (541) 822-3381

9/12/02: Fires in West Fir have been extinguished.

An update on Scenic Hot Springs from Dale:


In June, Scenic Preservation Association was incorporated as a Washington non-profit.  
Our website is .  Current membership consists of a board of directors.  This board is working towards 501(c)3 status from the IRS and has sponsored some clean-up days at Scenic.  Scenic Preservation Association gained permission from the corporation that currently owns Scenic Hot Springs to host these clean-up days.  
We expect membership to grow when we gain this tax-exempt status from the Federal government and actively start fundraising.  The plan includes purchasing the 40 acres around the springs and protecting the area for use by current and future generations. SPA will be asking for help from everyone as the plan progresses.  
You can email: to contact SPA.

Update on Bagby trail urbanization from Dave Bybee:

An out of court agreement was reached last month with the FS.  No improvements from the Collawash River on up to the Springs and about a 1/3 of a mile of ungraveled curbs in various sections back down from the river will be removed by volunteers from the various environment groups that threatened suit.  


9/3/02: If you like your soak hot, this is your time of year. The pools are at their maximums. Temperatures range from 112-degrees in the top pool to 101 in the next to lowest pool. The cold water is flowing rather nicely. Not gushing, but the cold bucket is filling in about 10 minutes. The fire hose we have this summer has been a big help to maintain a good flow. The waterfall in pool 3 is set up great now for a nice back massage. We have bit of a problem in pool 4 with the rocky bottom being somewhat uncomfortable to sit on. If I get time, I'll work on cleaning that out.

Access coming from the south (FS 19) is blocked. There are a couple of fires in the Westfir area near Oakridge. Access from highway 126 to FS 19 is fine


8/21/02: Work on the Cougar Dam is expected to be completed in 2004.

7/17/02: Oregon Country Fair pictures

7/11/02: Cougar is wonderful. With such hot weather in the northwest, there are far fewer people at Cougar for this time of year. And yet, the Springs are marvelous. There is sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon. The afternoon shade was very pleasant. I imagine it was about 80 degrees in the air around the pools in the shade yesterday. Very pleasant, unlike the low 90s in Eugene. Cougar is at 1850 feet about sea level, which keep it a little cooler. And a gentle breeze.

I met a Sue (Eugene) and Nancy (Boston) at Cougar yesterday and after much soaking, we went to Blue River Reservoir to enjoy a swim. The water was perfect. What a delight! Much warmer than I expected. That's the best thing about these hot temps -- they heat up the lake water for swimming!

Many people at Cougar are en route to the Oregon Country Fair. It starts this Friday, July 12th and runs through Sunday. Normally it's the busiest time of the year at Cougar, but the hot weather is keeping most people away, so if you're thinking of coming to Cougar and worried about it being crowded, don't be.  It is very accessible this year. And if you like your water really hot, the top pool is probably close to 110-degrees now. The cooler pools are pleasant, starting at about 101 degrees. The cold stream water is flowing and great for drinking or pouring a cold bucket over your head.

And check-out Blue River Reservoir to swim. It's at mile post 43.5 on highway 126. Follow Blue River Reservoir Road a half mile. If you go to the far side of the dam you can skinny dip without a problem. The near side is lately very busy with clothed bathers. People in Blue River/Eugene are really cool, but there is always the possibility of one person objecting. Legally, genitals must be covered in Lane County in public, but neither men nor women are required to wear tops.

6/13/02: Rallies to Protest Trail Fees this Saturday

6/6/02: Trail Fees Opposition Rally

6/6/02: The cement I'm told is temporary.

5/23/02: I was shocked and appalled to discover a small amount of cement was used in the rock work done by the Forest Service. This was a project to improve the retaining wall between pools 1 and 2 (5/20-22). What an insult to the aesthetics and intelligence of Cougar users. Cement is not needed. That wall has been maintained for more than 50 years without cement, just using natural rock with a small amount of mud. 

Cougar users prize the natural beauty of the hot springs above all else. It surprises me that we have to be ever vigilant, lest the Forest Service spoil this treasure.

I have placed a couple of calls to key people at the Forest Service complaining to them and seeking an explanation. I'll add more news when I hear back from them.


5/20/02: Three days of rock work begin today at Cougar. The top 3 pools will not be usable during this work. Pools will reopen Thursday.

4/30/02: A pleasant day at Cougar on Sunday. 7 kids arrived together between the ages of 3 and 8 years old and had great fun, rolling and splashing about in the warm water.

4/8/02: Pools have warmed. 106, 105, 102 and 100 degrees. On Sunday, the Naked Gourmet was cooking and serving his grandmother's Spanish rice and sharing Mango Butter to the delight of many.

2/25/02: The road surface to Cougar is entirely free of snow. Pools are 103, 102, 100 degrees. The parking lot was full on Saturday and Sunday much of the afternoon.

2/24/02: Corps blow out diversion plug

2/18/02: Enough snow has melted that you can get to the Cougar parking lot in any kind of car now. Pools are warm: 104, 103 and 100 and 98 degrees.

2/14/02: Most vehicles can probably make it to the Springs now on the road. There is still quite a bit of snow, but it is gradually melting. There is only one lane of track in the snow, however, so that is a problem unless you have a four-wheel drive vehicle to go around vehicles you meet from the other direction. One option is parking at the dam parking lot, and hiking the four miles each way to the Springs or catching a ride with someone who has an SUV.

The pools warmed up some this week with the lack of rain. Top pools are 102, and next pool down is about 100.

2/3/02: The road to Cougar is only plowed as far as the dam. Unless you have 4-wheel drive, park at the dam and hike the last 4 miles. Several of us were pushing out a front-wheel drive car that got stuck repeatedly last night after it ventured beyond the dam. There is only one lane of tracks which is a problem when you encounter another vehicle coming from the opposite direction. If warm weather continues, the road should improve as the snow melts. The water in the top 3 pools is 103, 102 and 100 degrees.

2/2/02: A beautiful sunny day in the Cougar area. Based on my last visit Sunday and my experience, the water at Cougar has probably warmed up nicely since last weekend, because it didn't rain much this week. Part of the tree that fell may still be across the road. It was partially cleared Sunday. Bottomline: there may still be a 2 mile hike to the Springs if you have a vehicle for snow. Otherwise, park at the dam and hike 4 miles. The road will not be plowed beyond the dam. I will update this page again tonight after I visit this afternoon.

1/31/02: Cougar Dam update

1/24/02: Deep snow has closed the road to Cougar (FS 19). Today it's being plowed as far as the dam, but not beyond. It will not be plowed beyond the dam, and the last 4 miles will remain closed until the snow melts. Options are hiking from the dam parking lot (4 miles) or if the expected snow arrives this weekend and that lower portion of FS 19 is closed again, hiking the entire trek from the junction of highway 126 and FS 19 (8 miles). The road near the dam received 30 inches of snow during the past 5 days. I will post new information when the road reopens.

1/21/02: It's snowing today at Cougar.

1/12/02: Outdoor recreation fees continue to nettle critics


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