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Kennedy Hot Springs and Scenic Hot Springs, Washington, USA

1999

A few selected hot springs are among the very few public, free places in Washington state where nudity is accepted. I'll report on the two that I frequent - Kennedy Hot Springs and Scenic hot springs.

Kennedy hot springs is in the Glacier Peak wilderness SE of Darrington, WA, and is a serious hike - 11 miles round trip, and the springs are, well, mediocre : one small, not very hot pool, with too many people trying to squeeze in. The advantages are that it is a great place to relax after a strenuous hike (as for climbers coming back from Glacier peak), and that it is maybe 3 yards from the icy White Chuck river, so you can leap back and forth from river to hot springs (like some Finnish saunas, when one goes between the sauna and a snowbank.)

Scenic hot springs are superior springs with 4 nice pools from moderate to quite hot (the Lobster Pot), with an authentic latrine, a few places to camp, a large deck to lounge and lunch (and yes, even drink on): please see my pictures posted at Photo Gallery, People (18). The hike is about 1.5 miles from US 2 east of Skykomish WA, goes up about 800 feet; trucks and 4wd can negotiate part of a powerline road, 1/3 of the way. While the springs are in the Mt Baker national forest, they are not in the wilderness, but on private land, and tolerated by the FS, and so long as they are carefully maintained by Friends of Scenic Hot Springs PO box 268 Skykomish WA 98228.

I typically go to the springs twice a year, for 30 or more years now. The people are wonderfully mixed, at least 40 percent female, lots of couple, plus a surprisingly large number of families [it is interesting that the kids, at 9-15 tend to remain clothed, while their parents strip!]. Weekends get quite crowded, with 50 or more people at once, so weekdays are more pleasing (unless you like crowds). There have never been problems while I've been there, but I guess there can be some rowdiness, as on Friday or Saturday nights. But the Friends group maintains decorum pretty well. Because it is tricky to find, if you are a visitor from out of state, e-mail me for details.

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