Hike to Deep Creek Hot Springs

Apple Valley, California

4.2/5
based on 10 reviews

Details

Distance

2 miles

Elevation Gain

900 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

Description

Added by Scotti Shafer

From soaking in the rejuvenating lithium hot springs, to trying your luck at slackline or taking a dip in the icy river, what’s not to enjoy about this high desert oasis?!

Deep Creek Hot Springs is nestled along the Mojave River at an elevation of 3,000 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains. This year-round mineral water retreat consists of three pools the size of large hot tubs, that range in temperature from around 96 degrees in the first pool to 102 in the third. All three pools are right along the river so there’s ample opportunity to mix it up with an icy dip in the river or you can try your luck on the slackline.

There are two ways to get to the hot springs, the long way and the short way. The long way is a six mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail starting at Arrowhead Lake Road and going east (free). The short way is a two mile hike along the Freedom Trail starting at Bowen Ranch ($5 per person for day passes and $10 per person if you want to camp overnight at Bowen Ranch). The short route is a steep descent (drops over 900 feet in altitude) from the Ranch to the hot springs, so make sure you’re ready for the steep climb back out. If you start from Bowen Ranch, they provide a map of the trail and there is plenty of parking. Once you get to the bottom of the trail, you have to cross the river to get to the hot springs. Depending on the height of the water, you may have to forge the icy stream to reach the steamy stuff, but it’s an easy crossing and you can usually make it across by boulder hopping. Be aware - clothing is optional at the springs so don’t be surprised to find some folks in their birthday suits.

If you want to avoid the crowd, I recommend making this mission on a weekday. Last time I went was a Monday and we saw about 10 people total on the hike and at the springs.

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Features

Chillin
Camping
Swimming
Hiking
Dog Friendly
Hot Springs
Picnic Area
River
Swimming Hole

Reviews

For people who have recently approached via the BLM land to the freedom trail (not parking at the campground or Bowen's ranch), how are the road conditions this year (2020)? I have not been in a couple of years but know we got heavy rains this past winter.

I just hiked into deep creek over the 4th of July. The hike in isn't bad, it's the hike put that will get you. The hot springs are amazing along the cold water creek

New parking and camping area just opened up real close to the hot springs. The hike is 1 3/4 mile each direction from the Apple Valley trailhead located at Deep Creek Hot Springs campground. Do NOT pay the crazy guy to park at Bowen Ranch unless you want to be harassed for coming back to your car after 5pm and like hiking an extra mile to get to the hot springs. Park at deep creek hot springs campground for closer access and camp facilities. DCHS campground is located a 1/2 mile past the old Bowen ranch entrance and has the closest access to the hot springs because the trailhead starts on their land. And they don’t care if you come back late, so its well worth the $10 to park with piece of mind! See www.deepcreekhotspringscampground.com

Definitely worth the treacherous descend at the end of the trail. The hike overall was moderate and had seen views. The creek and the hot springs are a hidden gem. I loved the natural spa and the hot and cold water dips. Excellent for spending a day. We saw a few people camp as well. It's a nudist friendly place.

Great hike to a hidden wealth of hot springs pools. The trail there is definitely much easier to traverse than the return trip to your vehicles, due primarily to the steady return climb. I highly recommend taking waterproof/suitable shoes for crossing the creek, as it is quite full of jagged rocks at the bed of the creek. Enjoy the calming heat of the pools and make sure to start back before sundown. I will definitely be returning again soon.

It is important to get their early unless you want to run up the mountain to get to your car the first time I did this hike I was tipping 380lbs and straight up almost died as its all down hill there but up steep hills back we ended up getting lost and got life flighted out the first time so I am now at 320 and did the hike a few weeks ago still a challenge but not bad it is gorgeous down there lots of hippies and well worth the drive and hike ❤️

The water has high concentrations of Human waste. Lots of trash and broken glass in the water. Due to its two mile access point many people come her on a holiday weekend. It's illegal to camp down at the springs but many people do.

I went with my girlfriend on our way from Death Valley to Joshua tree. We were super excited to relax for a day in between hiking and climbing. Unfortunately we drove all the way into the hike not knowing that it cost money to head on in. Also show up in the morning or early afternoon because the host does not want anyone in after dark. He didn't seem too happy about us showing up late afternoon... I would have loved to have enjoyed such a beautiful looking spot!

My girlfriend and I made the drive from Joshua Tree, which I believe was somewhere slightly less than a two hour drive. This is a WONDERFUL day trip if you're either in LA or J-tree (or even Vegas for that matter). If you're hiking the PCT, you would be stupid to not take some time to relax here! Most of the folks we ran into were thru-hikers, which are always entertaining to talk to! Be aware, just as another member reviewed, the drive to the ranch from the paved road is about a three mile drive which took us approximately 20 minutes to drive - it is a ROUGH entirely sand road. A big heads up which didn't seem to make the article, if you go the Bowen Ranch route, the hike is backwards. You'll have an "easy" hike entirely downhill to the hot springs. After you're done relaxing, you have to hike all the way back up the 900-some feet elevation. It can be a bear - especially if done in the summer! Be sure to bring snacks (you'll want them before your trek back) and a decent pair of shoes! The ranch operator will try to scare you with how difficult the hike is and how they have to search and rescue people all the time, but it's not bad if you don't mind a little exercise! I guess they just get tourists that try to hike it in flip flops. If you've done this hike, you know it's not possible in flip flops. hahaha

Be prepared to drive on a dirt road for a few miles. I have a small car and it made it, but a larger car would have been better! The pools were amazing, I definitely will be going back!

Leave No Trace

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