San Francisco Hot Springs
ElevationAscent: 6' 2 m
Descent: -473' -144 m
High: 5,008' 1,526 m
Low: 4,539' 1,384 m
GradeAvg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 29% (16°)
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“Make your way through a desert landscape, then descend into a lush riparian area to discover some small hot springs.”— Rachel Jagielski
Starting out from the trailhead, the trail is very clear and easy to follow. About a mile in, it bends through a gate designating a day use trail and continues; shortly after, the trail descends into a canyon on its way down to the San Francisco River. The trail brings you right to a clear space on the riverbank. From here, there are two ways to get to the hot springs:
1. Cross the river here and continue on the other side. The opposite bank is very overgrown, and it is nearly impossible to tell where to climb up the bank. However, the trail (marked by a fallen-over sign saying "trail") can be found again through a growth of tall grasses slightly upriver from the clear space. From here, follow a faint trail marked by a combination of cairns and blue ribbons tied to tree branches through a more sparsely vegetated area until you again reach the riverbank. The hot springs may be found on this side of the river, trickling into the water from the side of the bank along a stretch of around 100 yards. The larger springs, including two small pools outlined by rock, are found upriver, while other smaller ones are found downriver.
2. Alternatively, find the trail to your left (also marked by a sign saying "trail"), leading downriver and staying closer to the wall of the canyon than to the riverbank. Follow this trail until it lets you out into a clear space with a fire ring by the river. From here, wade downriver about 200 feet and look for the springs on your right.
Along the San Francisco, the landscape is lusher, and mesquite and juniper give way to cottonwood and sycamore. Tall grasses cover the landscape, dotted with wildflowers and other plants. In the mud, one might see tracks of all kinds, including bear, mountain lion, raccoon, and smaller mammals. Birds, lizards, and insects are also in abundance down here.
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We need help with the following missing trail information:
Need to Know, Dogs Allowed, Runner Notes
Land Manager: USFS - Gila National Forest Office