Meager Creek Hot Springs - Whistler Area Hot Springs
Meager Creek Hot Springs is located 93k northwest of , was beautifully developed into gorgeous pools, with a caretaker and usage charge. At its height of popularity, Meager Creek Hot Springs had 30,000 yearly visitors. Unfortunately, due to two recent avalanches it seems unlikely to ever officially reopen. After several years of being closed, access reopened on 2009 with a nice, expensive, new bridge. Only to be dramatically obliterated from another slide in 2010. In 2014 the new VOC Harrison Hut Trail was mostly completed, allowing access to Meager Creek Hot Springs once again. Currently (June 2016) this access road is under construction and is impassible for an unspecified amount of time.
The old access bridge over the Upper Lillooet River which cost nearly a million dollars was wrecked in seconds in 2010. There was considerable wrangling and negotiating to get it built in in 2009, but now it will almost certainly never be rebuilt. The area is far too active. Access to the springs is now via the new Harrison Trail via the south side of the the Upper Lillooet River, above and beyond the still visible, still awe inspiring, mudslide carnage.
With the catastrophic mud and debris slide let loose from Devastator Peak in 2010, the nice new (in 2009) million dollar bridge to the was destroyed. Though destroyed doesn't even begin to describe it. Looking on the now, dead end road, where the bridge once stood, the place still looks a mess. "Meager Creek FSR is closed indefinitely; no access to the hot springs." This is from the BCParks Upper Lillooet Provincial Park site, and evidently quite accurate.
Dead and still dying grey ghosts of trees still stand as they did in piles of forest wreckage. Even the road in looks bizarre. The road was simply bulldozed back to life. On either side, hemmed in by piles of dirt and dead trees. The mudslide that did this seems beyond belief. This river valley in the midst of a beautiful, green forest, is a sea of brown. Mud, dirt, and dead trees.
At its peak of popularity in 1994,had 30,000 visitors a year. With the unrestrained numbers, vandalism and violence broke out at the springs often so the BC Forest Service stepped in. They hired an on-site supervisor, limited vehicle access and charged a usage fee. Then the big slide of 2010 happened and now of course it only gets a few, very motivated visitors.
In 2014 a new route was built to Meager Creek Hot Springs by the UBC Varsity Outdoor Club. The new VOC Harrison Hut Trail regains access to the much prized Harrison Hut, but also opens up an excellent access trail to Meager. ***Currently(June 2016) this access road is under construction and is impassible for an unspecified amount of time.*** The trail is long and not too easy, however, and getting to the trailhead is quite an adventure. The logging road deteriorates quickly on the last couple kilometres and you find yourself dodging basketball sized boulders strewn across the road.
The old access route to Meager ran along the far(north side) of the Lillooet Forest Service Rd. This new trailhead is located on the near(left or south) side of the Upper Lillooet River and you simply continue along the Pemberton Meadows Road (almost) until you can't go any further. From the middle of Pemberton to the trailhead is 64 kilometres. The easy to miss trailhead is marked with a small trailhead sign for "VOC Harrison Hut Trail" No mention of Meager Creek Hot Springs on it.
The old access route, now that the bridge will never be rebuilt, is by crossing a the slow, though potentially dangerous, Upper Lillooet River where the bridge used to be, hiking 7k through the mudslide debris, then crossing the small, though fast flowing, Capricorn Creek to reach the much intact Meager Creek Hot Springs. If you have a canoe you can paddle across the Upper Lillooet at this wide, though slow flowing area where the bridge used to be, then make the interesting hike through the considerable debris left from the catastrophic slide. Spring runoff does increase the water through this area considerably and canoe crossing becomes quite tricky and even dangerous.
The landscape across the river in the debris field is hypnotizing. Every inch is mangled and wrecked looking. Twisted trees, extraordinary looking rocks.. and nothing is where it looks like it should be.
Both river and creek are fairly shallow, even during the spring runoff. But then again the Upper Lillooet River has only had a couple years to erode back into a conventional river through the debris field. If you are into adventure Meager is still an option, but the whole access route is fraught with peril from another all-to-possible mudslide or trouble at one of the river crossings.
The Meager Creek area in general and Mt Meager in particular is an extraordinarily active area under the ground. There have been massively destructive landslides and the inevitable debris flows that follow in 1931, 1947, 1975, 1986 as well as the brutally enormous one in 2010. Four geologists were never found after being killed in the 1975 debris flow.
Below are pictures of before and after the slide of 2010.
If you do venture across this river now, only part of the hard part is behind you. From the other side of the river, hike for 7k keeping Meager Creek on your left (until you have to cross it at about 6.8k) and you will come to the obvious entrance trail to the springs. Capricorn Creek is another water crossing you will come to just before the springs. It is narrower and faster moving, but quite small so even at high water levels should not be more than knee high.
Not surprisingly, due to the extraordinary activity under the ground here, there are two more hot springs near Meager (aside from the obvious Keyhole Hot Springs). They are smaller and not very hot. Placid Hot Springs and No Good Hot Springs. You can find them by continuing past Meager (do not go up the Meager trail, but instead stay on the logging road).
Meager Creek Hot Springs(Harrison Hut) Trailhead
Other Whistler Area Hot Springs
Keyhole Hot Springs, just a few kilometres up from the old turnoff to Meager, are in an amazingly beautiful setting. There are two cemented tubs into the rock perched on the edge of Lillooet River. These are the most beautiful, however there are several more possible springs to be had close by. There is a fabulous sandy area between the cliff and the river where hot spring water bubbles from the sand. There is a shovel here to dig yourself a beautiful pool and channel river water in as needed to moderate the temperature. There is also a small fire pit as well as several log seats. Keyhole Hot Springs are very popular which can be seen by the elaborate hot springs layout as well as the huge campground area in the deep forest, high above the hot springs about a 10 minute walk away. Signs of semi-permanent dwellings can be seen in stages of ruin, but overall the campsite area is amazing.
Skookumchuck Hot Springs, open year-round and located two hours north of Whistler along the edge of the huge Lillooet River.The name Skookumchuck means "strong water" in the language of the Chinook people of the Pacific Northwest. The name is associated with the hot springs because of the nearby First Nation community of Skatin, which was once called Skookumchuck. The Skookumchuck Hot Springs were also once known as St. Agnes Well during the days of the Fraser Canyon Gold Rush, but that name has fallen into disuse. They are also known locally by the Skatin name as the T'sek Hot Springs. See a short history of Skookumchuck Hot Springs here. The hot springs start in a pool which is far to hot to use so there are a network of tubes emanating from this pool to feed a ramshackle array of tubs. There are five tubs, which include one very large one under an A-frame which could hold 10 people and is beautifully comfortable.
Sloquet Hot Springs is a wonderfully wild set of shallow, man-made pools fed by a small, all natural, and very hot, waterfall. The pools stretch from the waterfall to the large and crashing Sloquet River. The large, spread out campsite for the hot springs lies a short 5 minute walk from the springs. You have to follow a dark and quickly descending trail toward the crashing river. As you near, you can smell the unusual, but kind of nice hot springs scent, and you see steam rising all around you, some steam rising, bizarrely, out of the grass clearing on the edge of the river. On your left a rising cliff, on your right the crashing river. The path narrows and steepens, leading to a large fallen tree which the trail seems to run to. So huge though as to not worry you walking the length of. Then, there it is. The massive fallen tree flanks it. Nestled between the tree and a cliff, in a large triangular area, with the river forming the third side are the Sloquet Hot Springs. Sloquet Hot Springs is 142 kilometres from Whistler, which translates to well over 3 hours of driving.