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Sulphur Springs via Alpha Trail Hike

From Oregon Hikers Field Guide

Interpretive sign at Sulphur Springs Meadow (bobcat)
Bridge over Soap Creek, Baker Creek Trail (bobcat)
Coast toothwort (Cardamine californica), Patterson Road (bobcat)
Old growth Douglas-fir, Ridge Trail (bobcat)
Trails in red; road walks in orange (bobcat) Courtesy: McDonald State Forest
  • Start point: Lewisburg Saddle TrailheadRoad.JPG
  • End Point: Sulphur Springs
  • Hike Type: In and out
  • Distance: 5.4 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1055 feet
  • High Point: 1,260 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Seasons: All year
  • Family Friendly: Yes
  • Backpackable: No
  • Crowded: No



Cobbling together forest roads and four short trails in the McDonald State Forest, this excursion takes you around a stand of old-growth Douglas-fir, descending into the valleys of Baker Creek and Soap Creek before ending up at Sulphur Springs. The springs themselves, though smelling slightly of sulphur, are a little underwhelming, so it is hard to believe that there was once a hotel here, which eventually became a victim of arson, with cabins and tents for travelers seeking the healing waters.

On the south side of the Lewisburg Saddle Trailhead, walk past the gate on Road 600. At the first road junction, go right on Road 600 (Harry R. Patterson Road). Head up about 100 yards and find the Ridge Trail leading off to the right. This gravel tread rises through a mossy vine maple thicket under tall Douglas-firs. As you ascend more steeply, you’ll encounter some conifers at least five feet across. Make a few short switchbacks up and hike on the level on the ridge before rising again to the Ridge-Alpha Trail Junction.

Drop down the Alpha Trail, one of the first foot trails constructed in this forest, and reach a road bed. Go right and loop down under old growth Douglas-firs. Soon reach a much younger and denser plantation and the northern end of the Alpha Trail at a gravel road. Hike down this road (Road 810), which winds down the slope among older plantations (For more of an adventure, you can take the first grassy track to the left and find mountain bike trail leading steeply down along Baker Creek). When you reach the junction of Roads 800 and 810, go left on Road 800.

Soon come to a four-way junction, with the quarter-mile Baker Creek Trail leading down to the right and abandoned Road 830 (which you’ll come down if you took the bike trail option) to the left. Take the Baker Creek Trail, with the creek itself flowing to the left under maples and cottonwoods. Look for signs of beaver activity here. Cross the pony truss bridge over Soap Creek, moved here in 2004, and reach the Baker Creek Trailhead, where there’s a large information kiosk.

Head left about 80 yards along the Soap Creek Road until you see the short Sulphur Springs Trail heading past a picnic table in an oak and maple rimmed meadow. An interpretive sign details the history of the area. Just before you reach Soap Creek, you’ll catch a whiff of sulphur and see the small bubbling pool that is Sulphur Springs. Other sulphury bubbles float in Soap Creek itself.

Return the way you came: up the Baker Creek Trail, left on 800, right on 810, and then up the Alpha Trail to the Ridge-Alpha Trail Junction. You can make a little loop here by going right on the Ridge Trail to wind down to to Patterson Road where it also meets Road 620, and then traverse down the hill back to the trailhead.

Fees, Regulations, etc.

  • Open dawn to dusk
  • Information kiosk at trailhead
  • Port-a-potty
  • Dogs on leash
  • Share trails with mountain bikes
  • Active research area: stay on the trails


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Oregon Hikers Field Guide is built as a collaborative effort by its user community. While we make every effort to fact-check, information found here should be considered anecdotal. You should cross-check against other references before planning a hike. Trail routing and conditions are subject to change. Please contact us if you notice errors on this page.

Hiking is a potentially risky activity, and the entire risk for users of this field guide is assumed by the user, and in no event shall Trailkeepers of Oregon be liable for any injury or damages suffered as a result of relying on content in this field guide. All content posted on the field guide becomes the property of Trailkeepers of Oregon, and may not be used without permission.