My friends and I have been wanting to visit some natural hot springs for a while now, and finally we got around to doing it. I don’t really hear about many hot springs in Southern California that often (although I’m sure there are plenty), but somehow we found out about the ones in Deep Creek.
We tried to head out somewhat early Saturday morning, but actually hit the road around 9am. It took us about 2 hours to get to Bowen Ranch where the trailhead to the hot springs is. To enter the ranch each person is supposed to pay $5 and put it in an envelope with your cars license plate number on it.
After the entry to Bowen Ranch there is still a little bit of a drive down a dirt road until you finally reach the parking area for the trail to the hot springs. The road is kind of crappy in some points but I managed to make it out there in my station wagon.
The trail is pretty clearly marked and offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and hills. It winds 2.5 miles down into the hills towards Deep Creek which is actually in the San Bernardino National Forest.
When we finally arrived down at the creek we were surprised to see how many people were down there. There weren’t that many cars in the parking lot, but apparently there is another “secret” trail that you can take to the creek which is shorter and where you don’t have to pay. We were told it just takes some Google mapping skills to figure it out.
The trail ends at a kind of beach area and from there you have to cross the freezing creek to get to the actual hot springs on the other side. We carried our cooler over so we could enjoy some beers while chilling in the hot springs.
The natural phenomenon of the hot springs was not as impressive as I thought it would be, it’s just kind of like being in a dirty jacuzzi with a bunch of slimy algae and strangers. So I decided not to spend too much time in the hot springs, instead I found a high perch on top of the rocks which was perfect for people watching. It was great seeing all the different walks of life gather around these hot pools of water. Young and old, naked and clothed… everyone was just hanging out and enjoying themselves.
The hike back out of the creek area can be a little intense if you are not prepared for it. Luckily for us we consumed plenty of libations down at the creek which helped us power through the hike back to the cars and completely forget about how bad it was.
Last weekend we headed up highway 39 to the recently reopened Crystal Lake Recreation Area. The entire area is not reopened but the road is opened to a day use picnic area and snack shop. You can also access some trailheads here which you couldn’t previously.
We had to hike up a portion of the closed road from the parking area until we came across the Windy Gap trail marker. We planned to take the trail up over the gap and down into the Little Jimmy trail camp.
The hike was great in the beginning, however you could tell the trail had been neglected for some time. Some sections were partially washed out and there were also large trees laying across the trail. Eventually we ran into a young brown-colored black bear standing right in front of us on the trail.
It didn’t take much to scare him off the trail, however he still lingered around watching us. We decided to cut cross-country to a higher part of the trail to keep an eye on him, however he didn’t end up following us. My guess is that he was heading down to the picnic area!
After getting over the gap and maneuvering across over 30 fallen trees in the trail we came to find that the whole other side of the mountains were covered in snow. Little Jimmy camp was almost completely covered, except for one spot which was perfect for putting our tent down in.
Luckily for us one of the camp stoves wasn’t completely buried in snow and there was even a small pile of branches left behind we got to use. Although it was a super nice day out it started getting cold quickly in the evening. It was nice to get the fire going.
After we made dinner we stayed up huddled around the fire. It was great not having anyone else around in the campsite. We stayed up as long as we could enjoying the night but eventually the warmth of our tent and sleeping bags lured us in.
The morning was cool and crisp, but once the sun was out you didn’t even really need a jacket. having a hot cup a coffee with the snow covered mountains all around was an awesome way to start the day.
The hike back was quick since it was all mostly down hill past Windy Gap. On the way back we came across a group of rangers and the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders who were gearing up to clear some of the fallen trees on the trail. We gave them our count of fallen trees and thanked them for their efforts.
Peaches are growing on the ultra-dwarf peach tree for the first time since we’ve had it.
The thorny blackberry bush is having flowers.
Tomatoes are off to a good start.
The ultra-dwarf asian pear tree is having bossoms for the first time as well.
The orange tree out front is chalk full of oranges as usual.
And the hops are growing strong! It’s probably only been 3 weeks since we planted them and they’ve already shot up quite a bit. We are growing the Nugget and the ever popular Cascade varieties. It will still probably be a couple years ’till we can use any hops from them to brew though. Ah, patience.