Back to index East Carson River Hot Springs Hike
Trip Date:  9/25/2020

Distance: 10 Miles

Vertical Gain: 2800'

Group Size: 7

Hike Rating: 
Easy   Moderate   Hard   Strenuous
East Carson River Hike
  Download GPX GPX for this trip
East Carson River Elevation Profile
Start Coordinates:   N 38 45.537, W 119 45.480     End Coordinates:   Same as Start Coordinates
Car Shuttle Req'd:   No Parking Directions:   Take Highway 89 to just a little bit south of the town of Woodfords.  Turn east onto Diamond Valley Road, and head on this for 2.84 miles.  Turn south on Airport Road for .85 miles, then turn left onto Scossa Canyon Rd.  Follow this for .75 miles until you take a turn to the left to the parking area .10 of a mile in the midlle of a grove of Ponderosa Pine trees.
Hazards of Note:   Extreme hot and dry with no water available on the trail until you reach the river after 5 miles.

Crowd Factor:   Minimal.  There will be few to no other hikers on this trail, but the hot tubs at the river can be crowded with OHV enthusiasts adventuring there from Cottonwood Canyon on the south side of the river.
General Notes:
From the parking area head roughly northwet, and you will have three early junctions on the trail.  Go left on the first two, and then right on the third.  Much of this early section of hike is on an old dirt road, easy to follow and very wide.  There is lots of up and down along the way.  After the first couple miles the trail will turn into a single track passage, which will continue in this manner for all but about the last 1/3 mile down to the river.  There are a couple of trail junctions off to the left that head down toward the Hungalelti Indian Reservation nearby on Airport Road far below.  After four miles the trail begins to bend around to the south, heading toward the river about 1000' below.  As you head down you will be on a very steep dirt road, and keep an eye out on the right side for a trail that will meander a little to the west and avoid some of the steepest sections of the trail down to the river.
Once you reach the river there are two pools fed by the hot springs that eventually reach the river.  In each, there are plastic water bottles blocking pipes that will either allow you to let water into the pools or block water from entering when done so that you can open the one in either of the pools to allow water to drain out.

Finding the parking area is a little tricky and you need to follow the signs and not enter the ones that indicate private property, but once arriving you will find ample parking for a large number of vehicles. Parking Area
An early view north toward the Carson Valley on the east side of the Lake Tahoe mountains.  Much of this hike is along this type of dry chapparel area so lots of water is needed. Looking north
Before the trail becomes single track, it appears to have been a vehicle road previously. Road trail 
Looking back to the west there are nice views toward Woodfords area and where Highway 89 heads south toward Monitor and Ebbetts Passes. Looking west
The trail heads up pretty relentlessly, and soon you have some nice views all around, including this one toward the south and the mountains at the north end of the Carson Iceberg Wilderness.
Rapid elevation gain
After a few miles there will be this view to the north of the Carson Valley and the small indian reservation of Hungalelti far below. Hungalelti Reservation
Once you catch a view of the East Carson River down below, the trail will bend south and begin a steep elevation drop. East Fork Carson River
The trail bending south also provides a nice view toward Copperwood Canyon to the southeast. Cottonwood Canyon 
A look back at the steep drop down to the river that will have to be navigated on the way back from the river. Steep Trail 
The first of the two pools that can be filled up by diverting the hot springs water into it by removing a water bottle blocking the inlet pipe. First of the two pools
The second pool, right along the river that we did fill up, which took about 15 minutes.  It was really hot, about 108 to 110 degrees. Second Pool
Our group enjoying the pool once it was filled up. Our group
Enjoying the hot pool, a few minutes at a time. Enjoying the water
GPS Track of our out and back hike, starting from the lower left and heading up and along the ridgeline to the far right before returning the way we came. GPS Track of Hike