Farad Soaking Pool (Mystic Hot Springs) - Hot Springs in California


This is the closest hot spring to the location of the tragedy of Donner Party.

Because of its easy accessibility, it is one of the most fragile and valuable undeveloped hot springs.


Just as you had the right to know, others have the right to know too. When visiting this "secret" place, please bring your own trash bag and take home twice as much trash as you bring in. And remember to be respectful and kind to others.

Industrial heritage in the wild

In the 1840s, there was a dramatic increase in the number of pioneers moving to the western states of Oregon and California, and Donner Party was one of them.

The tragedy of Donner Corps is known as an incident in which a group of 87 people from ordinary families were trapped by heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains; and as a result of food shortage, about half of them became victims of cannibalism.

Trailhead 01

If you are interested, you can look it up on Wikipedia.

It is an excellent read that shows how cannibalism became a historical story that people were interested in because it is forbidden.

I'm scared.
But once I started reading, I couldn't stop.
Information Board 01

This time, I heard that there was a hot spring along the Truckee River, about a 20-minute drive from the distress point.

Take I- 80 and get off at the Farad exit.

Information Board 02

There was a hydroelectric power plant here that was established in 1899 and finished operation in 1989.

Powerhouse 03

It is a short hike to the hot spring, about a mile round trip.

Going up the hill to go around the remains of the power plant.

Slope 01

Cross the conduits with a footbridge.

Slope 02

Thick conduits were covered with primitive wooden boards.

Powerhouse 01

The sight of a wonderful industrial heritage decaying was heartbreaking.

Powerhouse 02

The remains continued along the trail.

The flumes on the right were supported by a wooden structure that reminds me of the days of the western frontier.

Trail 01

Some of the structures were from different time periods, and there was no end to my interest in them.

Trail 03

On the other side of the Truckee River runs the Union Pacific Railroad, with its long freight trains coming and going.

Trail 03

On the slope beside the mountain path, I found a small spring with bubbling water.

Bubbling Water 01

The surrounding area was muddy and not suitable for soaking, but I had a hunch that I became close to the hot spring.

Tarp-covered paradise

Overview 01

I found a square object in a wider area of the riverbed.

Overview 02

I thought it was something for agriculture, but this was my destination.

Covered 02

The place was spared from the vandalism that is common in undeveloped  hot springs and appeared to be used with care.

Covered 01

When I peeled off the thick plastic tarp, I found a pool covered with another plastic tarp to stop the water.

Water temp 01

The water was tasteless and odorless.

Although the water was lukewarm, the entire pool felt warm enough, probably due to the heat retention effect of the plastic tarps.

Overview 01

The inside of the pool was comfortable and free of mud buildup thanks to the covering.

Pool 03

I guessed it was maintained by some hot spring enthusiasts with noble intentions.

Pool 03

I took my time dipping in the hot water, thinking of the people who had been impoverished and cannibalized beyond the tranquil valley.

Soaking 02


Farad Soaking Pool (Mystic Hot Springs), Farad, California, U.S.

My rating

Type: Undeveloped

Rule: Clothing optional

Chemical use: No

Water temp: Up to 97 degrees F

  • Writer

Hot Springer Ken

A hot spring enthusiast based in Japan. Toured over 300 North American hot springs while working in Texas from 2016 to 2022. For updates, visit X or Instagram!

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