This was my first trip to Goldmyer Hotspring. I had planned to camp at Goldmyer with overnight camping reservations for eight, but I am glad it turned into a day trip with only two of us (more about this later) . We (Mike and Michael) carpooled to the Middle Fork Trailhead at the end of pavement on the Middle Fork Road, starting the ride around 9 AM up the Taylor River Road to what is called the Middle Fork Road on the Green Trails Map (174 SX); it is also NF 5600. I believe it was a railroad bed in a previous incarnation, as there used to be a railroad up to Goldmyer to accommodate passengers. The first ten miles and 1,850 feet could be accomplished by a reasonably capable cyclist on a loaded gravel bike, and It was easy enough on our full suspension mountain bikes without camping gear. We turned off NF 5600 at Middle Fork Tie #4 Trail, where there was a small sign indicating Goldmyer trail to the right.
The little bridge across Burntboot Creek was in good shape, and we made our way up the trail to the hot spring; arriving at the caretaker's cabin at approximately 11:30. The hosts were friendly and helpful. After signing in, we left our bikes behind and climbed the trail past the "Grandfather Tree" about 1/4 mile up to the spring, where we stripped off our sweaty togs and immersed ourselves in the hot spring for about an hour. The Spring is in a beautiful, secluded location next to a waterfall on Burntboot Creek. We had the entire place to ourselves, and it was a delightful soak indeed. We alternated between dips in the hot spring and dips in the cold spring immediately adjacent to it. I toweled off feeling as if I'd just had a massage.
Then came the hard part. As planned, we headed back via the Middle Fork Trail on the south side of the river. The first challenge was to cross Burntboot Creek. Michael crossed first, then tossed his sandals back across so I could cross without either going barefoot or getting my shoes wet. That was the first of many creek crossings, some with intact bridges, some without, some dry, some not so dry. At one such, we managed to disturb a hornets nest and I got stung, twice - this after encountering many rock gardens and roots that had forced me to dismount and hike-a-bike several times. We weren't even half way back yet. This was somewhat discouraging, but we pressed on and arrived back at the trailhead sore and tired by about 4:00.
The trail had some rideable and fun segments, but even with full suspension mountain bikes this was a difficult trail. I was glad not to have tried it with a gravel bike and camping gear, not to mention several pissed off COGSters -- I would have been lynched! I would do this trip again, but older and wiser. For one thing, I would stick to the old FS road both ways. It was a heck of an adventure, and in spite of the difficult trail back we enjoyed the beautiful scenery, the car-free miles, the hotspring, each other's company, and perfect riding weather. Photos from the trip are on my FlickR site.
NOTE - if you decide to try this yourself, pay careful attention to the warnings and information on Goldmyer's website. Don't depend on GPS, bring a map - especially if taking the trail. GPS reception may be very spotty, and there is no cellphone coverage. Bring what you would bring on a hiking trip; the ten essentials and a water filter if camping at Goldmyer. Be prepared to deal with creek crossings, which may be impassable at certain times of the year - especially during the spring melt. The hot spring is worth the trip, however you get there.