Snowshoe to San Antonio Hot Springs via Thompson Ridge Route
New Mexico › Thompson Ridge Rd.
Added by Gemina Garland-Lewis
Take a peaceful and quiet snowshoe to beautiful mountain hot springs surrounded by snow. This is a shorter route in than the main trail, and in winter there will be fewer crowds at the springs.
Although you can reach these hot springs via the main trail in the winter, the Thompson Ridge route is a shorter option that comes in from above the springs rather than below. You'll need winter route finding skills for the trail (there's no signage at any point) and an all wheel or 4 wheel drive for the road in.
The trailhead starts on a Forest Service Road (accessible during summer but snow-covered and unplowed during winter) that comes off the Thompson Ridge Road (FS 106). Follow the road downhill for about a third of a mile until you reach a large meadow on your left and a sizeable open pit straight ahead. Turn down to the left into the meadow before you reach the pit (you'll be on top of the Forest Service Road here).
The trail turns slightly to the right and then opens in a wide basin. Keep to the right (north) and follow the path through the opening in the forest - the trail stays fairly straight and only has a small incline along the ridge. Just before two miles you'll see a small rounded hill to your left that is fairly open - this is your only cue that it's time to descend the ridge (unless there are existing tracks already on the trail!).
From here the trail starts to switchback down the ridge, initially to the right, and then a sharp left will take to you a small open knoll where you will take a right again. From here the descent becomes steeper and, depending on conditions, may be easier with snowshoes off and microspikes on. The hot springs are a few hundred yards to the north down trail from the ridge but can be slow going because of the incline.
The springs are clothing optional and have several levels for various temperatures, starting around 105 degrees F. Come back the way you came after a good soak! The hike up back to the ridge can be slow going given that it is narrow and steep, so take extra care (especially since you're so relaxed from the springs on the way back!).
Take Highway 4 west towards Jemez Springs past Valles Caldera National Preserve. If driving through Los Alamos en route be sure you have a photo ID on you for the security checkpoint when you pass through Los Alamos National Laboratories property. Shortly after you pass the Redondo Campground you'll see Sulphur Creek Rd. on your right. Take this turn and then keep to the left at the fork on FS 106. Follow this up the ridge for 3.5 miles until you see the sign for Thompson Ridge Estates Aspen Dr. East Gate - this is where you park and start the trail. There are only about three spots that are wide enough for you to pull off the road so access is limited. The trail starts at the road that drops down the right by the Thompson Ridge Estates sign.
- Poles with snow baskets
- Swimsuit (optional) and towel
- Bag for anything wet after soaking
- Plenty of water: take more than you'd want for the hike alone to keep hydrated while in the hot springs, especially if you're not used to the altitude (8000+ ft). On particularly cold days your hydration pouch hose may freeze through so bring a bottle just in case.
- Plenty of extra (non-cotton) layers
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One of my favorite places to camp
Come up this route in the summer for an amazing free camping spot. If you have a high clearance vehicle you can follow the road back to make the walk to the springs shorter. Camp and make a midnight stroll to the hot springs under the moon. Whats better than that?!
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