San Antonio Hot Springs
There is nothing better than the reward of a soak in a hot spring after a hike. Tucked away in the Jemez Mountains and only accessible by foot, The San Antonio Hot Springs is a real treat. 105 degree water pours out of the mountain into four pristine sandy bottomed pools. This will be sure to be a favorite Sidetrack.
Northwest of Albuquerque near Los Alamos, NM
There are so many amazing trails and springs nestled in the Jemez Mountains. The close proximity to Albuquerque, cooler temperatures, and beautiful alpine forests make it one of my favorite places on earth.
I had heard about The San Antonio Hot Springs and had wanted to check it out for years. I moved it to the top of my sidetrack list one summer and am so glad I did!
I read the springs were created by the army corps of engineers. A spout juts out of the mountain where 105 degree water continually pours into a pool and then cascades down 3 smaller pools.
My husband and I took a day trip up to the Jemez Mountains one July day while our kiddos were away to their grandparents for the week. We are always so used to exploring with our kids that we sometimes forget we can plan a sidetrack without them as well!
We chose to do our Jemez Falls sidetrack and the San Antonio Hot Springs as a day trip. It worked out perfectly for us. After visiting and hiking around Jemez Falls, we drove towards the springs.
I researched how to get to the springs and saw people repeatedly comment on how poor the condition of the five mile road (FR 376) was. So we were patient and just took our time and carefully navigated our SUV up the rutted road. You'll need a vehicle with good clearance to make it up the road.
Please be advised the gate at the base of FR 376 and the sign that indicates the gate is closed sunset to sunrise.
We headed up this road about 3 pm on a summer's day and kept the time in mind as we did not want to get locked in overnight. The dirt road is very bumpy and steep in parts, but wide. We did not have problems in our Sequoia SUV.
I have read the road can deteriorate after a rain storm, so always proceed at your own discretion. After driving about five miles we came to a gate that prevented us from driving any farther. This popular area has seen a lot of traffic, and this is one way the Forest Service is trying to preserve the area.
There is a parking area off to the right.
We parked, loaded up our day packs and hit the approximate .5 mile trail. We walked by foot on NM 376 until we saw a meadow off to the right as well as a footbridge over the river and a sign.
You cross the bridge and follow the foot trail up through the woods on Forest Service land to the springs. There is private property on the right with a couple of cabins.
I read stories of unwelcoming land owners, but we did not encounter anyone the day we hiked to the springs.
Ascending the foot path in the woods we did see a baby rattlesnake adjacent to the trail. It certainly surprised us. There was a family with little kids running along just behind us on the trail, so we waited and warned them (yikes!). As we rounded the corner, the top pool came into view. The water was loud but soothing coming out of a triple spouted pipe jutting out of the rock hill. The view was stunning.
Set on the hillside, the springs look out across the meadow and alpine lined forest on the other side of San Antonio Canyon. It was very peaceful and serene.We decided to spend about an hour hiking and exploring the area first, as the large family behind us was eager to soak and though there are four different pools, the area is not too large. The trail continues up the hill, into the woods, and is nice and shaded.
We returned to see the family had left, but there were 2 other groups in the lower pools soaking.
We took advantage of the opportunity to soak in the largest pool under the spout. It was divine! The clean water is hot, but not too hot and is crystal clear. The sanded bottom of the pools is soothing to the feet. There is a wooden plank that stretches across the edge of the top pool which makes the perfect spot to sit and look out at the canyon below. You can see hikers coming and going on the lower section of the path below. There are rocks lining the edges of the pools that can be slippery, so be careful.
The springs are very popular with hikers, especially in summer. Do not expect privacy here.
We stayed through sunset and the light played magically off the water as the sun dropped below a forested wall across the valley. We did not want to risk the gate closing, so wasted little time working our way back to the car and traveling back down to NM 126. We approached the gate just after dusk and it was still open.
We ended our fun Jemez day trip with a yummy meal at Los Ojos Restaurant and Saloon in Jemez Springs before heading back to Albuquerque.