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McCauley Warm Springs

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Hiking, Snowshoeing, Mountain Biking
Dog Friendly
Length: 5.61 miles
Elevation: 7,910 feet
Degree of Difficulty: Moderate
Seasonal: 3 Season (Snow in winter: Snowshoe)
Driving Distance from Plaza: 65 miles

Overview:
McCauley Warm Springs is a 3.5 mile out and back trail located near Jemez Springs, New Mexico and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

This pleasant hike in the Jemez Mountains combines views of stunning rock formations with a relaxing soak in rustic hotsprings. You will pass under towering Battleship Rock and parallel the Jemez River before climbing a forested hillside to McCauley Springs. These tiered, naturally heated pools are augmented with small rock walls that create large bathing areas. Another touch added by earlier visitors is the pools’ plentiful population of small tropical fish, which often clean visitors’ feet for a unique “spa” experience.

You will begin at the base of Battleship Rock, a faceted monolith protruding from the forest. Head towards the North Fork Jemez trailhead, located near a covered picnic area by the Jemez River. Bend left to follow the bubbling creek through the forest. You will pass under Battleship Rock on the early portion of the trail, and can take a detour to its base for a cool viewpoint.

After about 0.3 miles, you will reach a marked fork. Turn left uphill toward McCauley Springs. You will climb a moderately steep, forested hill for 1.7 miles before the trail levels out. Note that in this uphill segment, the rocky trail surface and lack of underbrush make it easy to lose the path—so keep an eye out for the pink and orange ribbons tied intermittently to tree branches.

After this climb, you will enjoy a 0.1-mile respite, as you wind along a level plain.
Soon you will reach a large, well-defined campsite, and just after, McCauley Springs.

These pools are arrayed in a large tier, with the biggest and warmest at the top of the tumbling stream—though I would encourage you to try out all the pools to get the full experience and find the perfect temperature.

Once you have soaked and splashed to your heart’s content, retrace your steps downhill to the trailhead.

NOTE: Camping and nudity are technically prohibited at the warmsprings, but these regulations are not often observed. As noted above, there is a large and well-defined campsite by the springs, and popular opinion declares the springs “clothing-optional.” That said, you will have to carefully strategize the location of your vehicle while you are in the forest, because the trailhead is located by day-use only parking.

Directions:
I-25 North from Santa Fe and/or Albuquerque: 1. Travel north on I-25. 2. Take Exit 282A for US 84 North. 3. Merge onto US 84 North and follow it for 19 miles. 4. Take the exit for NM-502 toward Los Alamos. 5. Turn left onto Los Alamos Highway. 6. Continue onto 502 and follow it for 9.9 miles. 7. Merge onto NM-4 West, following the signs to Bandelier National Monument and White Rock. You will drive about 32 miles on this road, passing through Bandelier and a wildlife preserve before bending into the Jemez Mountains. You will pass a junction with Highway 126 when you are close to the park; remain on Highway 4 for 2 more miles. 8. Turn left into the well-marked Battleship Rock parking area. Overnight parking is not available.