Deep Creek Hot Springs Hike

Deep Creek Hot Springs Hike

In This Guide
  • Turn by Turn Directions & Video To Deep Creek Hot Springs
  • Free Trail or Pay Trail?
  • Deep Creek Hot Springs Trail Maps
  • How to Get to the Deep Creek Hot Springs Trail
  • How Safe Is the Water?
Distance5.6 miles (9 km)
Hike Time3 Hours (Total)
Difficulty (?)Moderate
Total Ascent (?)1,500 feet (457m)
Highest Elevation4,370 feet (1332m)
Fees & PermitsNone
Dog FriendlyLeashed
Park WebsiteSan Bernardino National Forest
Park Phone909-382-2600
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Unlike the route from Bowen Ranch, this Deep Creek Hot Springs hike takes you on the free and less-traveled Bradford Ridge Path to the popular hot springs. The hike along the Bradford Ridge Path is a treat in itself, winding its way along lush valleys tucked into the pristine wilderness of San Bernardino National Forest until it joins the PCT, where you hike above Deep Creek. And then, of course, you arrive Deep Creek Hot Springs, a series of jacuzzi-temperature pools next to the river. The scene at Deep Creek Hot Springs can be interesting, to say the least, but plan your trip right and you can enjoy a beautiful hike and a nice soak without any craziness.

How to Get to Deep Creek Hot Springs

There are few ways to hike to Deep Creek Hot Springs, so don’t just put “Deep Creek Hot Springs” in your GPS as you’re likely to end up somewhere else. These directions will bring you to the Bradford Ridge Path trailhead. This trailhead is a bit easier to reach from most of LA and Orange County because you can come up through Arrowhead Lake; you don’t need to go around the mountains as you do for Bowen Ranch.

Use this trailhead address:
Bradford Ridge Path / Deep Creek Trailhead, CA-173, Lake Arrowhead, California

Parking is limited to the side of the road, but there’s a decent amount of shoulder within walkable distance to the trailhead. Just don’t block the road and you’ll be okay.

Deep Creek Hot Springs Directions 2
There’s parking on the side of the road and more spaces further up where the paved section of CA-173 ends. It does get full here, so you might have to walk a bit on the road if you can’t find a spot close.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Directions 3
Looks for this trail shortly before the gated end of the paved road. You’ll have to climb over the guardrail. NOTE: Theodore V. reports that the sign is now gone, so keep your eyes open for the trail.

Trailhead Notes

Why I Like Bradford Ridge Better Than Bowen Ranch

Party Guy At Deep Creek
If you want to do beer bongs and ludes, Bowen Ranch might be a better move for you. Photo losangelesswimmin

If you want to do the hike from Bowen Ranch, you certainly can. It’s a shorter route and a bigger, easier to follow trail. I’ve done it in the past but I can say without a doubt the Bradford Ridge Path is much nicer and more of a “hike hike.”

The Bowen Ranch route has a few downsides:

If you want to do the hike from Bowen Ranch, here’s a guide.

If you choose to do the hike on Bradford Ridge Path, please treat the trail, land, and rules with respect. Don’t turn this hike into a hot mess.

Gear For the Hike

Although close to Lake Arrowhead, this is a high-desert hike. It gets cold in the winter, hot in the summer (sometimes over 100F). Bring plenty of water (like 2-3L) and sunscreen. The route is totally exposed. Trekking poles help on the steep section of the hike. And of course, you’d be smart to pack in a bathing suit and towel if you want to hit the water.

Keep your eyes open for rattlesnakes on the ground too.

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La Sportiva Spire

I try a lot of hiking boots and shoes, and there are some great options out there, but the La Sportiva Spire is the best combination of comfort, protection, low-weight, and durability. They are waterproof, and the high cuff keeps debris out without the need for a gaiter. Time tested over thousands of miles. Use them with a two-layer sock system to end blisters for good.
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Osprey Talon

On a medium or longer hike I recommend a pack like the Osprey Talon 33 (men) or Osprey Sirrus 36 (women) which is a little bit larger. These packs are on the upper end of the (35L) daypack range, but they only weigh a small fraction more than a pack with less capacity. Having the extra space gives you more flexibility and means you don’t have to jam things in there. I use the space for things like extra layers in the winter, extra water on desert hikes, and even a tent & sleeping bag on overnights.

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Mini fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing. Read my review and see the lowest prices and reviews at REI.

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend.See All of My Best Gear Picks Here

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Deep Springs Hot Springs Hike Brief

Slackline At Deep Creek Hot Springs
You might want to reconsider falling off the slack-line or jumping in the water after reading this section.


The Scene


Dangers in the Water

Deep Creek Hot Springs Trail Map

Click To View Map

Deep Creek Hot Springs Hike Map Downloads

Download the Hike GPX File

View a Printable PDF Hike Map

Fenix 6 Pro

I’m a big fan of GPS watches to follow my GPX track (which I also use as a sleep, wellness, and fitness tracker) and my current watch is the Fenix 6 Pro Solar (full review here). I load my GPX tracks onto the watch to make sure I’m in the right place, and if not, the onboard topo maps allow me to navigate on the fly. It’s pricey but it has a great battery, accurate GPS, and tons of functionality. If you want something similar without the maps and big price tag, check out the Garmin Instinct which is a great buy and does a lot of the same things.

Deep Creek Hot Springs Hike Elevation
The hike on the Bradford Ridge Path has you descending to Deep Creek in about 2.6 miles. Save energy for the climb back out, which is a tough uphill in the beginning and then a mellow up-and-down back to the trailhead.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Hike 3d Map
You can clearly see the steep descent at the end on this 3D view.

Deep Creek Hot Springs Hike Directions

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Video Directions

FYI I have a version of this video in 360/VR format. Not familiar with the benefits of 360 video? Then watch this.

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Turn By Turn Directions

Deep Creek Hot Springs Directions 4
Start the hike on the path by the sign.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Directions 5
Head through the gate and on the bigger trail that bends left and down.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Directions 6
The trail is a bit sandy in the beginning but easy to follow.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Directions 7
Soon the path follows Kinley Creek, which is on your left. In the spring the area is an explosion of colorful flowers and fauna; it’s a great time to do the hike.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Directions 8
Stay on the main trail. There are a few little side trails to viewpoints, but Bradford Ridge Path is generally easy to follow.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Directions 9
After about a mile or so the trail starts winding away from Kinley Creek.
Deep Creek Junction
When you get to this junction, make the hard right and continue along the fence. The path straight is another gentler route down but has become a bit overgrown. Either way you take, you’ll reach the PCT. Easier to follow, hike right, mellower downhill (less steep), go straight. If you go straight, make the right when you reach the junction at the PCT and you will join the guide a few steps later.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Directions 11
Shortly after that junction you’ll go through the opening in the fence. This starts the steep downhill section.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Directions 12
There’s a cool little tent site shortly after the gate.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Directions 13
Now you have a steep downhill for a while. Have good footwear, take your time, and don’t be scared to go down on your butt. I do it all the time.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Directions 14
After the steep downhill you’ll be in Family Canyon. Keep heading down.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Directions 15
You made it to the PCT, almost there! Make the right toward Mexico on the PCT. If you accidentally make the left, it will take you to Canada.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Directions 16
The PCT follows Deep Creek, which will be on your left.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Directions 17
When you reach the intersection, bear left and go straight to the beach/water area, you’re at the hot springs.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Sign
The big sandy area has a nice sign that folks grab selfies with.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Directions 21
There’s a small sandy area where some people camp, but they’re not supposed to.
Deep Creek Hot Springs Directions 22
Here you are, the hot springs. There’s a hot spring right in front of you here, and there are some more scattered around the site.
Deep Creek Hot Pool Locations
Some of the pools are back to the left when you reach the creek. Some of the bigger ones are circled here in red. The springs vary in temperature but in general are like a jacuzzi (100-105F). You can also swim in the river which is generally cold. Again, leave early to avoid the crowds. It’s not uncommon to have the pools be completely full with soakers.

That’s it, you’re at the hot springs. From here you just head back the way you came. You’ll have to climb that steep hill, but once you clear that, it’s pretty easy going back to the trailhead.

Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

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