Sunday, August 24, 2014

The wrong way to Little Hot Creek

First, let me get the correct route out of the way:

Take Benton Crossing Road from the little green church at the junction of US395 to Whitmore Tubs Road (on the left).

Take Whitmore Tubs past Hot Creek Hatchery Road to Owens River Road (there's a sign) and turn left. You'll know you're on the correct road when you cross a small white bridge.

Take Owens River Road past Antelope Spring Road to Forest Road 3S138, which is the next road on the left. It's only a two-track dirt road but don't freak out. Follow it until you get to what looks like a hot spring on the left, across the creek. There's a wide spot in the road. There might be other vehicles parked there. (If you miss it and keep going, you come to a camping area a little further along where you can turn around.) 37°41'24"N, 118°50'27"W

Follow the path and planks over the creek to the tub. It's not technically a hot spring. The water for the tub comes from the creek, and the whole creek is hot. Very hot. Hence "Hot Creek."

If you take Antelope Spring Road as some online guides suggest, things will be nice and dandy until you reach the very gnarly and steep road that connects to Forest Road 3S138. It's closed November to April, anyway. Don't go that way if you don't need to. If you follow Google Maps to the GPS coordinates given in one of the online guides, you'll wander all over the place on some awful roads and never get anywhere near the right spot. (Ask me how I know, he said, rolling his eyes and smacking his head.) If you're coming from somewhere north of the airport, you could connect to Whitmore Tubs Road via Hot Creek Hatchery Road. Don't let the first miles of pavement fool you, though. It turns into the usual dirt and gravel.

So, about Little Hot Creek itself.

The planks across the creek. Also the pipe that feeds the tub.

It's set in a small valley (because that's where creeks tend to run) with views of, well, not much. The concrete tub is approximately ten feet by six feet and a little more than knee deep at one end. It can get very hot, but there's a valve to help adjust the temperature. There are a couple of decks for your stuff or your body.

It's a place to go if you want a developed hot spring but want to get away from the riffraff. Or from those who might want to harsh your mellow. Or from the law. With so many other springs closer to civilization, you have to really want to go here. My rating of Little Hot Creek is no doubt influenced by its inconvenience. To me it's not so amazing that it's worth the schlep. I give it 4 out of 5. Decks and very hot water keep me from rating it 3.5.


  1. Been to this pool many times, but it's been at least 10-12 years. Is camping still allowed back there?

  2. Great write up! Thank you! I am wondering if there is a disbursed area for camping close by there that would be RV (boondock) accessible...

  3. Are there bears in the area if you camp?

  4. This is definitely a 5/5 Overcrowding because of the easy access has made this very popular That be my only complaint otherwise it’s paradise