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Deep Creek Hot Springs

The Moon is Waxing Gibbous (99% of Full)


Trip Report Bradford Ridge 11/30/17

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December 05, 2017 01:22PM
The drive out 173 from Lake Arrowhead is quick and easy, but watch out on the curves and narrow places. We parked the car at 10:15, loaded up snacks and water, sandals (for creek walking) and lightweight towels, and headed up the Bradford Ridge Path/Trail. With temps in the low 50s, it was comfortable and very sunny. Even this time of year, with the sun low, sunscreen is a good idea.

The hike is not difficult for the first two-thirds, but expect a good bit of up and down with some elevation gain and loss. These hills aren't very solid on the path, so you'll notice the sand is loose and your footing is important near the outside edges. The sharp turn to the right that is visible on google maps is a good landmark. If you go straight, you won't go far, and that'll be your reminder to turn right. You'll also see plenty of footprints throughout this entire trail. Eventually you'll reach the top of the ridge where a decision must be made. There's a large clearing with this shrub in the middle. It has a red tag on it now, but that can disappear. Here's a photo of this important spot:


When you reach this point, you can back up about 80 feet and turn eastward on the trail that reaches Deep Creek with the steep decline. This trial is on the south side of the barbed wire fence. You can't miss the old fence, and it is a good landmark as well. We didn't have clarity on where the split in the trail would be, so we turned right and took that trail down the steep sliding incline. You'll do some crab-walking or some plain squat-and-slide on this part of the trail, so if you've freehiked this far you might wish to protect yourself during this part of Bradford Ridge. When you reach the bottom, turn left and walk a couple hundred yards to the PCT, turning right on PCT which takes you to the Springs in about 5 minutes. PCT is not marked at this junction, by the way, but you'll see how turning right takes you down into the creek bed.

If, at the top of the ridge, you'd wanted to take the less steep trail to the creek, you have a couple of options that are not as clear as you'd like - but you're only doing this if you are an experienced hiker with a good sense of direction, and you're able to observe closely. On our trip, the most visible means of accessing the alternate trail is to back up about 5 steps from the shrub in the photo, turn right on the trail that is on the north side of the barbed wire fence, and then make a left turn about 50 yards down that trail to continue heading north. You can look around you and see a couple of alternate trails that go generally in the northerly direction, and they converge about a half mile ahead. In any case, follow this trail north until it becomes even more pronounced and follow it down the less steep ridge, turning right where you see that option. You'll then head eastward along the PCT, and soon will see the springs up ahead on your left.

Our hike in took a total of about an hour and forty minutes.

On this weekday there were about 10 - 12 people at the Hot Springs. The air temperature was in the upper 60s by the time we reached the springs. We were pleased to see a mixed group soaking, as we are a m/f couple, and the young lady I've been hiking with for 40 years enjoys au naturel activities in a mixed setting but is less inclined to feel comfortable in situations where she's the only female. We understand there's a larger and more diverse crowd on weekends, but we took the only opportunity available to make this hike, and it turned out great. As you'd expect this time of year, the cooler pools were too cool for most to enjoy, but a couple of intrepid folks hopped in anyway. The warmer pools were awesome, and it was great to chill and chat with the nice people there. I should mention that we were the only visitors who'd arrived via Bradford Ridge. When hiking in via Bradford Ridge one can look across the creek from quite a distance and see the other trail and hikers approaching from Bowen Ranch.

For the return trip, you are strongly encouraged to take the less steep route even if you took the quicker/steeper route in. Follow the PCT generally westward after departing the springs, then you'll see this fork in the path where you'll take the left fork:


There's a small white tag on that shrub.

After this left turn you'll walk about two or three minutes and see yet another fork in the path. Take another left and head up the hill. If you go straight, you'll still be on the PCT, and that isn't what you want to do. Again, you'll see many more footprints heading up the hill to the left.


After this left turn, hike to the top and then look to the south. This is yet another opportunity to take two (or even three) options along the same general route back to the decision point discussed above on the hike in. If you take a hard right turn on the path at the top, you'll climb higher and hike along a ridgeline - and that's what we did for a few minutes. We could not, however, clearly see how this trail (which included rock-hopping) would get us back to the decision point, so we backtracked and took the more directly-southward path at the point we'd made the hard right a few minutes earlier. On this trail we could see ahead clearly enough to know where we'd get back to the decision point, and as we approached it the barbed wire fence was as expected.

Subtracting the 5 - 10 minutes on the spur just mentioned, our return hike was just about two hours total. Arriving at Hwy 173 we saw two more vehicles parked, which was a surprise since we had not met any other hikers on our trail. We drove away at about 3:30pm. Doing the math we see we spent about an hour and twenty minutes at the springs. Now that we know this trail and have a good feel for the springs, we can see how a longer visit with a picnic lunch and a larger group would be even more fun, especially on days that don't have such early sunsets.

Trip Report Bradford Ridge 11/30/17

dllou22136December 05, 2017 01:22PM

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