Meager Creek Hot Springs

Meager Hot Springs are right beside the wild Meager Creek and at the foot of the mountain massif known as the Meager Group.

Meager Group with Mt. Meager in the centre

Meager Group with Mt. Meager in the centre

Mount Meager itself is well known to geologists because 2400 years ago this volcano erupted and spread ash as far away as Alberta. The mountains all around the hot springs are very steep and high and are still home to huge glaciers. Although not much of that is visible down at the level of the creek, this area is known for frequent major landslides and flash floods. Visitors are cautioned to be aware of the risks and if necessary to be prepared to move to the well-marked ‘refuge’ locations that are safe from slides.

The site is beautiful, and the pools are restful. The constant roar of the creek and its dynamic flow actually becomes white noise that is part of the springs’ calming magic.

On Sunday, when we drove to Railroad Pass on the Hurley River Road in search of snow to ski, and found none, we decided to drive to the hot springs. After the bridge was washed out in 2003 the Springs were closed. A new and very robust bridge was built and the facility re-opened late last summer. In the past it has had a reputation of wild parties. This year, we found that there was an attendant who was using a pressure washer to clean the algae off the largest pool, and collected a $5 fee from each of us. We saw only seven other people. The site was tranquil and beautiful.

To visit, take the highway NW out of Pemberton (north of Whistler) for 25km. Watch for an intersection and turn right. A short paved road crosses the Lillooet River and continues on a dirt road along the north side of the river. 9 km farther is the intersection with the Hurley River Road —  a rough summer road that is the  quickest way to travel north to the South  Chilcotin. Don’t take the Hurley River Road. Stay left and continue on the Lillooet River Forest Service Road for 38km. The road is fairly rough but you will not need 4×4. There is a primitive (but attractive) camp site and then the intersection with the road along Meager Creek. Turn left on the Meager Cr. Branch and a rustic wooden bridge crosses the Lillooet River. It is about 6km farther to the parking lot for the Hot Springs. There is a short walk across the new Meager Creek Bridge to the path to the Springs. The Springs are about 600 metres along this path.

The geothermal activity in this area results in another, more remote, hot springs called, Keyhole Falls/Pebble Creek hot springs. I have heard that access requires some route-finding that might appeal to the adventurous. Also, high above the Springs is a major geothermal electricity generation project.

edited to add: With the massive landslide of 2010 August 6, it may be a while before it will be possible to visit the Springs. And I have no idea what are the current conditions there. The bridges over Capricorn Creek and the Lillooet River are destroyed. Right now — writing 2010 Aug 8 — I have no reason to believe that the landslide damaged the Hot Springs. From the accounts I’ve read, it seems that part of the S. face of upper Mt. Meager slid into Capricorn Creek and roared down into Meager Cr., then swept along Meager Cr. to block the Lillooet River. The Hot Springs are almost 4km upstream from the junction with Capricorn Creek, and they are 120m higher in elevation. At this point, I am hoping the site of the Springs was untouched by the slide.

See for yourself. Here is the exact position of the Hot Springs. When I was there I ran a short GPS track as I walked from the parking area, across the Meager Creek Bridge, and to the pools of the Hot Springs. Click here to see my GPS track in Google Earth (now part of Google Maps). In Google Earth, you may explore by using your mouse to drag the picture, zoom in/out with the scroll wheel, and tilt and turn around the position of the mouse by holding down the shift key then moving the mouse. The slider at the top of the image will move an arrow to show you exactly where I was, and what time it was… so you can see how long it took to walk. Once you have the map open, this is a good way to explore the whole region.

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14 Responses to “Meager Creek Hot Springs”


  1. 1 damagedfilms August 17, 2009 at 7:24 am

    great video! thanks so much for posting! we’re travelling to BC soon, and definitely want to check out Meager Creek. looks awesome.

  2. 2 polar August 29, 2009 at 8:22 am

    Good to know Meagar Creek Hot Springs reopen. Been there years ago. Great film, but wonder I can’t hear audio in your film. Thank you.

    • 3 Robert August 30, 2009 at 12:59 pm

      Polar, I have checked both the video and the audio here on the blog and at Viddler. It works on my iMac and on friends’ computers, so I don’t know why you don’t hear the audio track. I should mention that the audio track is simply what the camera picked up at the time, which is mainly the white-noise-like roar from Meager Creek. You can hear a little dialogue over that when we are paying the fee at the large pool. And there is throb of the gasoline power washer at that pool. So, while it is perhaps nice to have that track, you are not missing too much.

  3. 4 Pete October 1, 2009 at 11:32 am

    A good-sized debris flow has blown out the Capricorn bridge for the rest of the year – the caretaker shot some video, I’ve embedded in our web site – Warning, there is some salty language!

    http://www.bikeco.ca/mudslide-at-meager-creek/

  4. 5 Robert October 1, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Pete, thanks for the story and the link to the amazing video.

    The story appeared in PIQUE, Whistler’s news magazine. http://snipurl.com/s9ukb [www_piquenewsmagazine_com]

  5. 6 dave December 7, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    When we used to take the old vw van up in the late 70s there was no one charging you five dollars to pick-up your garbage.This place was in the wilderness, man. I do remember something about a wash-out but that was the early 80’s. We would go up every rainy week-end and camp right down by the pools. It provides us with many fond memories. we’d always take a drive up to Bralorne to poke around the old mine. One of the things I remember most was the absolute lack of people. I haven’t been there in a long time but was thinking of cruising up one of these days.But alas, it would surely break my heart to walk along boardwalks and have to leave at sundown after paying for a walk in the ‘wilderness’ db

  6. 7 Robert December 7, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Hi Dave. Thanks for the memories. There’s much less wilderness now than there was in the 70s. Unless those who value wilderness work to keep it, there will be lots less for our children. The owners of crown land (we, the people) mainly live in cities and towns. There are people growing up who don’t know wilderness, and , sometimes in ignorance, fear it. My hope is that those who love wild spaces will share the places they love with city-dwellers. I find that if people can have a little time alone with nature (even 1/2 hour without even friends or ‘society’) the wild places will speak eloquently for themselves.

    BTW, the $5 seems like a small fee to ensure that the pools are maintained and, more importantly, that the site is no longer a hangout for town folks going to the woods to drink and to party.

  7. 8 tania July 28, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Hey, just wondering if you can still get up to Meager Creek? I camped there in the snow a few decades ago and want to go back this summer.
    Anyone who’s been PRETTY PLEASE, let me know?
    😉
    t

    • 9 Robert July 28, 2010 at 3:34 pm

      Hi Tania. For that kind of road information I go to this web page: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/dsq/Engineering/roadinformation.htm

      It is still reporting, “Meager Creek FSR is closed indefinitely due to large debris flow event at Capricorn Creek ** no anticipated repair date **”

      Sorry, that is not the news you wanted. If you want to talk to someone about that issue, you might consider contacting BC’s Squamish Forest District at http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/dsq/. The headline story at that site is, “There is no access to Meager Creek due to mudslide at Capricorn Creek.” With that bright red banner, this is obviously an important issue with the District.

  8. 10 gray August 5, 2010 at 4:01 am

    Meager Creek Hot Springs – some missing history
    By Gray

    It has been many years since I was guided to the Meager Creek Hot Springs by a First Nations person from the Mont Currie Nation that I met on a fishing trip while in Pemberton. I can no longer pinpoint the precise year, but I believe that occurred about 1984-5. It was October, and there was frost on the ground as we arrived at the site about 3:00 am and stumbled our way down two high terrace bluffs to reach the pool terrace beside the cold stream. At that time there was a large wooden pool with a water fall coming into it over some larger stones from the source vent upsteam a short distance – a small pool at the source was so hot that it was almost impossible to stay in it more than a few seconds. At the large wooden pool the water was about 104 degrees F. It was about 2 and a half feet deep – a pool that I estimate to have been some twelve by 20 feet in rectangular shape.

    Downstream there was another pool that was favoured for ‘mud bathing’ in a kind of gray mud that formed its bottom. This pool was about 98 degrees and about a foot deep, perhaps ten or twelve feet across in a circular or oval shape.

    Downsteam again there was a rock pool right on the edge of the cold stream. It was fed by another source vent as well as the same hot stream from the upper pools. In the upsteam end it was about 108 degrees, which quickly reduced to about 104 degrees in the center of the pool and then urther decreased to around 100 degrees at its outflow. Downstream from that pool was a sandy terrace section through which the hot stream flowed and where there were several one-person sized pools in the sand terrace.

    Downsteam was the outflow stream of warm water that joined the cold stream.

    Some distance above the hot springs site, about a half hour hike, was a capped B.C. Hydro drilled vent. The cap had eroded and hot water was shooting some twelve or more feet into the air. All around this vent were the mineral colors everywhere – mainly orange to red. It was quite a sight.

    After my initial visit, the following weekend I was back to the site, and the following weekend was also planned at the site. But (and this info may help pinpoint the year) torrential rains caused a flood that trapped numerous people camped there. I could not get in, and they could not get out – the story made BCTV newscasts, as helicopters were used to evacuate those otherwise trapped.

    At that time there was an active logging camp just shy of the hot springs. The flood wiped out all of the pools except the upper wooden pool. And the wooden pool was blown by the loggers to try to discourage people from coming back. Some weeks later, I was on the site and saw the flood damages as well as the blown wooden pool. And we were not about to waste the trip in, so we built a dam of sand and rocks where the wooden pool had been and enjoyed the new pool that weekend. The next weekend, when we arrived, our dam had been destroyed – we rebuilt it. The next weekend the dam was destroyed again – we rebuilt it and enjoyed the rest of that weekend too. But we had figured out that it was costing us a day to rebuild, only to find our work destroyed the next time – so I and my company gave up on the site.

    A couple of years later, I took a trip to the site to see what was there if anything. I was on vacation. And what I found was called “The Meager Creek Hot Springs Natural History Society” on site and with cooperation of Forestry, that society was restoring the hot springs with extensive plans to reclaim it for a public recreation site. When I arrived, already they had rebuilt the upper large wooden pool. And it was then three feet deep.

    I set up camp and joined that society immediately. We rebuilt the rock pool on the edge of the cold stream. And there was a great addition to the site from the flood – the land-slide had sheared off one of B.C. Hydro’s drilled vents right near the wooden pool and the hot water was shooting some 20 feet high and coming down cool enough for a great natural shower. But the pipe was eroding very quickly, and before we had completed the work on the site, it was just a bubbling at the ground level – it is still there in recent photos. But we built a hut over it and made a four person sauna over it.

    We cut any danger trees in the forests, built the second wooden pool where the old mud bath used to be, built huge staircases down the two upper terrace bluffs, made a huge parking lot up top and built camp sites and outhouses up top (where they would not pollute). During my vacation –entirely spent working there — one day there was a thunder storm that ignited two or three forest fires on the surrounding peaks. I was building a two-person pool in the sand terrace that had a small water fall on the incoming end and stoning the sides up with steps and comfortable seats etc. While in that pool I suddenly noticed that the sand was being washed away right by my tent. And I grabbed everything of my camp and ran it to higher ground up in the edge of the forest. By the time I had made two trips, my new pool was complexly gone.

    We all were gathered by the society camp on the lower terrace in the edge of the forest waiting out the storm and having a great time playing in the torrential rainfall. Above the roar of Meager Creek as well as a new stream that thundered down through the forest just a few yards from the society camp came the sound of a helicopter landing. We were told of the dangers we could be in with forest fires ablaze above us and mud slide danger growing by the moment, but the pilot told us we were not in immediate danger, but to prepare to evacuate if he landed again. We sat the day out close to camp, which means we had no idea how they were doing with the fires. But we figured that if they did not come to get a bunch of able bodied men to help fight the fires, they must be doing OK without us.

    During the time we were developing the site, we had asked for a prohibition on publication of the site until we were done. Still, some people were arriving, not many, but a few – and a few more on weekends. We had public gatherings to educate all the visitors – our team were involved in studies of the flora and fauna of the hot springs area, in which was found some 32 different varieties of orchid, some very rare WHITE fireweed, and a translucent/green Rubber Boa about a foot long – yes, a Boa Constrictor. Around the upper pools, what I have since seen described as “grass” growing where the upper wooden pool used to be, is actually called “Scurpus.” My spell checker says that is a wong spelling, and I am not surprised – “Scurpus” apparently grows on five other sites on the planet. It looks very like a reed, but instead of a cylindrical stem, it is a triangular stem. The flora and fauna of Meager Creek was found so unique that we began to worry that the project would be stopped in its tracks and completely barred to public access. I think there is a booklet about two inches thick that the society produced on the study that should be in the library of UBC.

    After the site was completed and the public was informed in the tourist info spots in Pemberton and Whistler, the population at the hot springs exploded. We had wanted to put an information booth in the parking lot so as to educate the visitors to the fact that even the cone-bearing evergreens on the pool terrace were about fifty years old, though as small as hedge trees in the city. We had hoped that we could educate away any destruction. But we were not allowed the booth on Forestry lands by regulations. To counter, we made and posted signs all around the site hoping that would protect the site.

    I returned to enjoy the hot springs some months later. I arrived at about 3:00am. The parking lot was loaded and so were some of the occupants who were still whooping.

    The next time I arrived at Meager Creek Hot Springs, there was a gate on the bridge, a fee to enter, and day use only regulation. Meager Creek Hot Springs had come through the ‘party’ destruction, but all the camp sites, out houses in safe locations, huge stair cases, board walks, wooden pools, signs and everything the society had done were either gone or rebuilt. Meager Creek was one of the most special places in Canada when few people knew anything about its existence – it is still one of the most special places in Canada. But it has entered the necessary regulated world recreational sites – I am so glad that I enjoyed it when it was a place where one could lay back in warm water while frost formed on the ground around at night, and star-gaze – that is now history at Meager Creek Hot Springs, just as our Meager Creek Hot Springs Natural History Society is history.

    But I thought that your site would like to know who built the pools – the only pool that we built that still exists is the stone pool on the edge of the cold stream. In some ways, since the regulation of the site became necessary, the old upper wooden pool is replaced with a much nicer stone pool, as is the old mud bath pool. Some things do get better

    – grin.

  9. 11 gray August 8, 2010 at 2:57 am

    Greetings Robert,

    Thank you for your email message — here will be my reply — use whatever of it you like;

    Bruce Torrie I met. He worked with the group while I was involved. At that time I was told, though I have no verification of these things, that a former B.C. Premier was attempting to gain sole rights to the hot springs to set up greenhouses for profitable horticulture. Another story I heard in the society was that after that attempt failed, that Premier was attempting to deal the site off to a conglomerate who wanted to build a hotel at the hot springs — we were working to preserve the site for public recreation free of any entry fee.

    And if I am not mistaken in the memory department, it was Bruce who flew into Pemberton by helicopter the meet with the Mayer in the society’s efforts to pressure (via public spectacle) gov’t to allow us to revitalize the hot springs as a public recreation site.

    So far as I am aware, at the time I was working within the society, the Managing Director was a man named Deen Maday. But there were lawyers, doctors, UBC researchers and many others who were in the society and Bruce may well have been the founder. The society had many members both male and female and a cross section of society in general. After my vacation on site, I made weekend trips — and once there was money coming in from gov’t sources, there were arguments almost immediately between society members — and as a result, I became less and less involved. There was a lot of stress because our plans to educate visitors became more and more restricted with regulations prohibiting this and that — some of us were becoming sorry for the fact that the site was going to get publicity in Pemberton and Whistler tourist info spots as soon as the society completed. We already suspected that the site would be destroyed by careless back-woods parties, and we saw plenty of that evidence on weekends already.

    A group of what we knew as “skinheads” had become fairly regular campers above where we were planning the parking lot, and they were armed, blasting away at wrecked old vehicles. It made most everyone on site very nervous. We were told that eventually the RCMP set up roadblocks and arrested some of them for illegal firearms, but whether that took place or not, they stopped coming there.

    After finding the necessary regulations in place on the site on my last trip in some years ago, it was no longer a place that I cared to drive all the way in just to do a few hours and get put out to pay all over again the next day — I never returned.

    With the massive mud slide on Friday Aug 6, 2010, Meager Creek Hot Springs is probably all history — it does not look like any of it survived this time round.

    Yours,

    gray

  10. 12 Robert August 8, 2010 at 7:14 am

    Gray, many thanks for your recollections of the history of the Hot Springs. The pictures of the huge landslide two days ago are beginning to reveal the extent of that enormous geological event! With the bridges gone, it may be some time before the damage to the Hot Springs is fully revealed.

    • 13 gray August 10, 2010 at 8:59 pm

      One can hope — although I have not been to the springs since about 2002, and may not try going to them again, it is still the greatest spot of nature I have seen in Canada.


  1. 1 下一个温泉. 资料收集中… | 神游之地 Trackback on July 5, 2010 at 12:21 pm

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