Hike-in Required
Yes
Open Year-round
Yes
Water Temperature
103.00 °F (39.44 °C)
Sensitive Habitat
Yes
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There are three ways to make it to the East Fork Carson River Hot Springs, four if you include the occasional buckaroo that passes by on horseback looking for a warm soak. In the spring, rafts can put in at Hangman's Bridge near Markleeville and beach themselves overnight near the hot springs before continuing the next day into Nevada. During the summer and fall months when flow is low, four-wheel drive vehicles with high clearance can access the hot springs by snaking down narrow dirt roads and fording the river. This description focuses on accessing the hot springs by foot.

The parking area is a stand of ponderosa pine trees equipped with a few fire rings for trailhead campers. Start your trek by continuing north on the road that you drove in on. The road will quickly deteriorate, and you will see a ridge to the east. Keep bearing left through the first several road splits until you've passed to the west of a hill with a notable rock outcropping. After you pass that outcropping, start to bear right at the next trail intersection to begin an ascent of the greater ridge. If the trail is lost at any point, cross-country travel in a general northeast direction to reach the top of the crescent-shaped ridge will likely land you back on the trail.

Once you make it to the trail on top of the ridge, continue following that trail up and down several hill tops. You will have big views of the countryside with the Great Basin meeting the Eastern Sierra. The trail will eventually descend into the canyon that contains the East Fork of the Carson River. The hot spring tubs will be easily visible as you descend.

Camping is plentiful near the hot springs with beachside and forested options. The most striking pool hovers over the river, and river dippers can experience a hot spring waterfall while wading nearby. A second pool exists just upstream of the riverside pool and is therefore warmer. The source of the hot spring continues into a nearby canyon. Additional hot springs exist about a mile upstream and downstream along the East Fork of the Carson River and require some exploring to find.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Fall

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

None

Pros

Beautiful setting. Riverside soaking. Room to camp.

Cons

Tricky to find the trail. Diversion pipes occasionally in disrepair.

Pets allowed

Allowed

Features

Natural
Constructed
Clothing optional
Backcountry camping
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Sensitive Habitat

Number of pools

2

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

I did it on my jeep 2 years a go and the road was kind scary on some parts. I am not taking my Jeep this time. we are planning on hiking in. Does anyone know how long is the hike from the camping area?
02/24/2019
None of this trip is "do-able" in a Toyota Camry. This hike is still accessible as of 2/19. Pretty treacherous conditions getting in/out. Definitely not recommended for rookie adventurists.
05/30/2018
Does anyone know if this is still a do-able hike in as of May 2018?
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