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Deep Creek Hot Springs Trail

Intermediate/Difficult
 4.8 (8) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A beautiful out-and-back hike to an amazing natural but maintained hot spring.


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Map Key

3.7

Miles

5.9

KM

Out and Back

4,431' 1,351 m

High

3,516' 1,072 m

Low

917' 279 m

Up

917' 279 m

Down

9%

Avg Grade (5°)

32%

Max Grade (18°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Access is through Deep Creek Hot Springs Campground (see deepcreekhotspringscampgrou… for detailed driving directions). The campground charges $10 per person for day use access and parking, or $15 per person for overnight camping and access.

Overview

The trail is intermediate level and around two miles one-way. It can have loose sand and rocks in places, and sometimes on inclines and declines, so you'll want to be careful at those areas.

While the route to the hot springs passes several unmarked trail crossings and roads and can be pretty confusing without navigation, a map is posted at the trailhead for hikers to take a picture of, which will help when reaching these forks. Rocks on the route have also been painted with turquoise/blue dots to mark the correct route.

The hike is dry, hot, and has no coverage. So you'll want to protect yourself from the sun (hats, sunscreen, etc.) and bring plenty of water. If you go in the summer, it can be brutal sometimes. Lots of people go really early so it's cool out.

Description

The trail starts at Deep Creek Hot Springs Campground. You can park there for the day or overnight though all users are required to pay a day use ($10 per person) or camping ($15 per person) fee. Upon reaching the bottom of the trail, hikers will need to swim across the brisk creek in order to reach the hot spring pools.

The trail is reached by parking at the far lower end of the campground and proceeding toward a tall pole. Several signs in the campground point hikers in the right direction as well. Near the base of this pole is a map which hikers can take a picture of to help with navigating the network of trails to reach the springs. There are a lot of little off trails, but if you stick to the map and pay attention you'll be fine. Make sure you are paying attention so you know how to get back. The trail isn't idiot proof - you can get lost! Keep an eye on the Hiking Project mobile app.

WARNING: Bring a light! If you stay late, and the sun goes down, it is PITCH BLACK outside. I have seen many people returning on the way back struggling with their cellphone lights that hopefully have enough battery power to get them back. I have helped lots of people lost entirely because, not only did they not pay attention to the trail on the way in, but they had no light at all to get back. Be prepared. Do not rely on your cellphone.

The trail is hardpacked dirt and sand. While the majority of the hike in is a gradual downhill, the final quarter mile is down steep and slippery gravel. Hikers should also be aware that there is very little shade along the hike, so water and sunscreen are essential for this route.

Descending into the San Bernardino Mountains, the path traces arid hillside, though there can be bursts of wildflowers if seasonal conditions are right, and hikers might see and hear an abundance of wildlife such as lizards, birds, rabbits, and moths during early morning or nighttime hours.

At the bottom, hikers must swim across the cool 35 foot wide waters of Deep Creek which flows from a combination of springs and snowmelt in the mountains. While the hot springs vary in temperature from warm to hot and are a welcome relief after crossing the cold water, making the second cold swim on your way out is a little less exciting.

The hot springs consist of several pools, mostly nestled into the stone boulders, but one cooler pool sits at the edge of the creek a few paces upstream from the rocks. The springs are natural. It is maintained somewhat by people who have been coming for 30+ years. There are no bathrooms, benches, tables, water that is not the creek, springs, lights, electricity, trash cans, etc. This place is 100% nature. There is nothing for miles. You carry in what you want, and carry out everything you came with. Don't litter.

Lastly, the springs is clothing optional. If nudity scares you, this is not the place for you. It is usually about 50/50 clothed vs non-clothed people. Adults and children alike. Everyone is really cool about it, too. So don't freak.

No GLASS bottles allowed.

Flora & Fauna

There is wildlife. The most common is fish in the creek, lizards, and snakes. They seem to be more common at night. I have been sitting in the springs and have seen them slithering their way across the creek. I have caught and relocated a few from people who were terrified and ready to kill them as well. Just leave them alone and they will do their own thing.

Contacts

Shared By:

Tyrel Duckett with improvements by CT Alderson and 1 other

Trail Ratings

  4.8 from 8 votes

#998

Overall
  4.8 from 8 votes
5 Star
75%
4 Star
25%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#163

in California

#998

Overall
21 Views Last Month
9,350 Since Nov 9, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult

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57%
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43%
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Photos

The trailhead located at the edge of Deep Creek Hot Springs Campground. The hike quickly begins descending into the arid landscape.
Apr 11, 2022 near Lake Ar…, CA
Several of the hot springs pools, each at varying temperatures, in the rocks at Deep Creek Hot Springs.
Apr 11, 2022 near Lake Ar…, CA
The hardpacked dirt trail is almost completely exposed and descends about 900' in elevation over the 1.75 mile hike to the hot springs pools.
Apr 11, 2022 near Lake Ar…, CA
One of the warm soaking pools, set just beside the creek's edge.
Apr 11, 2022 near Lake Ar…, CA
Deep Creek.
Nov 9, 2015 near Lake Ar…, CA
Turquoise/blue paint blazes help mark the route, though hikers should definitely take a photo of the map at the trailhead as navigation can be a bit confusing with several unsigned forks along the way.
Apr 11, 2022 near Lake Ar…, CA

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Check-Ins

Mar 7, 2021
CALLISTUS LUCIEN
Oct 18, 2019
Guy Dar
It is not the trail, it's the destination that deserves the 5 stars
Sep 15, 2018
Sarah Clapper
Completely exposed; cool boulders; uphill back
Apr 16, 2018
Walter Melara
This a beautiful site, with a cheery at the the end 4.6mi
Dec 12, 2017
Donna Dyphibane
May 13, 2017
Nikita Sawinyh
Apr 23, 2016
Austin Lynch