Just a short 45-minute drive from Bend, Paulina Lake has everything an adventure seeker could want, the best being the hidden hot springs along the shores.
Paulina Lake is the lesser-known crater lake in Oregon, often overlooked by Crater Lake National Park-goers, but a must-visit during your trip to Oregon.
Perfect for soaking on a cool summer night or in the dead of winter, Paulina Hot Springs is a hidden gem that should be added to your to-do list while exploring Central Oregon. Use this extensive guide to plan your trip to these incredible hot springs.
Paulina Lake Hot Springs Location
Paulina Lake Hot Springs is located on the shores of Paulina Lake, just 45 minutes from downtown Bend.
From Bend, take Highway 97 south toward La Pine. After driving approximately 25 minutes on Highway 97, look for the sign that says “Newberry Caldera, Paulina – East Lakes”. Turn left on this road and follow it to Paulina Lake.
In order to reach Paulina Hot Springs, continue past the visitor center toward Little Crater Campground. Park your vehicle on the far end of the campground near the trailhead.
Paulina Hot Springs is located just under one and a half miles from the Little Crater Campground.
Hiking To Paulina Lake Hot Springs
In order to reach the hot springs, you’ll need to hike along the shore for approximately 1.25 miles.
Not a hiker? No problem. The hike is flat and achievable by people of all fitness levels. Not to mention, the views are absolutely stunning along the way.
There is a distinct path that will lead you along the shore from Little Crater campground to the hot springs. Some people have trouble finding the pools, but there is now a sign that will lead you from the path down to the hot springs.
If you still struggle to find the location, use the pictures in this post as a reference; you should be directly opposite of Paulina Peak.
Visiting Paulina Hot Springs In Winter
We decided to venture out to the hot springs in the middle of winter. The snow was deep, the temperatures were cold, but the journey was worth every second.
If you get the chance, I recommend visiting the hot springs in winter because the cold weather contrasts with the hot pools perfectly.
In order to visit Paulina Hot Springs in winter, you’ll need a reliable vehicle with 4WD. The road to reach Little Crater Campground is typically unplowed, so getting there will be a challenge for most cars.
What To Bring To Paulina Lake Hot Springs
There are several things you’ll want to pack for your adventure to Paulina Hot Springs.
1. First, be sure to wear sturdy shoes for hiking. Although the hike out to the hot springs is less than a mile and a half, you’ll be walking through the woods to get there.
Also, be aware that many visitors come to the hot springs and leave trash behind (GRRRR!). It’s likely that you’ll find broken glass on the beach where the hot springs can be found. Wearing sturdy shoes will protect your feet; nobody has time to contract an infectious disease.
2. A few more things worth packing are snacks and water. The hot springs will dehydrate your body. Keep a bottle of water handy for rehydration.
Note: Since there aren’t any trash cans available near the hot springs, please, please, PLEASE pack out everything you pack in. Keep these hidden gems beautiful and do your part to keep them clean.
3. You might also consider bringing a small spade with you to dig out the pools.
When we went to the hot springs, there was a spade left behind from previous travelers. Keep in mind, a shovel isn’t completely necessary because you can always dig out the pools using your hands. A shovel just makes the process easier.
Paulina Lake is located in the small town of La Pine, Oregon. I don’t recommend spending a lot of time in the town itself, but there are plenty of things to do near Paulina Hot Springs.
Here are a few of our favorite activities to add to your itinerary when visiting Paulina Hot Springs.
Paulina Peak Hike
Paulina Peak is the perfect hike for a summer morning. The 6-mile hike is arduous, so you’ll be ready to soak your muscles in the hot springs after you descend.
If you’re not an avid hiker or you aren’t up for a 6-mile trek, it’s possible to drive to the top of Paulina Peak, too!
Arrive at Paulina Peak for sunrise before making your way to the hot springs for a relaxing morning. Don’t forget to bring your coffee!
Note: I do not recommend trying to summit this mountain after October; due to elevation, this mountain is covered with snow during winter months.
Big Obsidian Flow
Have you ever seen lava flow before? Yeah, me neither…
Until I hiked in Newberry Volcanic Monument and saw the Big Obsidian Flow.
All I have to say is WOW.
Explore this area by hiking the Big Obsidian Flow Trail that brings you onto the flow itself. Located just minutes from Paulina Lake, this is the perfect short hike to conquer before visiting the hot springs.
If you go to Oregon and you don’t spend a few nights camping, did you really go to Oregon at all?
Luckily, there are plenty of campgrounds in Central Oregon, several of which sit along the shores of Paulina Lake. Check out both Paulina Lake Campground and Little Crater Campground when you’re in the area. Spend a weekend soaking and camping at Paulina Lake.
Want to visit more hot springs in Oregon? Check out our popular blog post: The 16 Best Hot Springs in Oregon.
The Wrap-Up: Paulina Hot Springs
Paulina Hot Springs are some of the best hot springs in the state of Oregon. The relaxing vibe of sitting in man-made pools on the shores of a crater lake is something you can’t find anywhere else.
While planning your trip through Central Oregon, don’t forget to put Paulina Lake hot springs at the top of your to-do list.
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