When we say San Francisco, we are not talking about the metropolis famous for the Golden Gate Bridge.
San Francisco Hot Springs in New Mexico is the perfect wild springs for a day hike.
Entry-level natural hot springs
The Gila National Forest is the sixth-largest national forest in the continental United States and includes the watersheds of the Gila River and its upper and largest tributary, the San Francisco River.
Among the hot springs scattered throughout the national forest, San Francisco Hot Springs can be reached by a 3.1-mile round-trip hike and can be considered an entry-level hot spring.
At the dead end of a dirt road in good condition, a restroom and a bulletin board appeared, which was the trailhead.
A sign cautioned that the area was rattlesnake habitat and that clothing was required.
After continuing through a sparsely vegetated shrubby wilderness, I came to a point overlooking the San Francisco River valley.
Beyond this point, the area is for day use only and camping is prohibited.
I descended the slope to the floodplain, where lush trees were prominent.
The incline is steep, but the trail is clearly marked in zigzags and gradually decreases in altitude while enjoying the scenery.
At one point, I had to cross a river on foot.
Usually it is not deeper than knee-deep, so it is not a problem, but if the water level is rising, give up.
Bring your shovel
Crossing to the other side of the river, I found a puddle under the bank, where algae of a characteristic color were growing.
The water temp was about 107 degrees F.
It was not clean, and soaking here was discouraged.
A short walk upstream revealed three more pools.
It should be noted that the hot springs are located in a place where the river sinks below the surface every time there is a heavy rainfall, so the condition is not constant.
You should bring a shovel and be enthusiastic enough to create a pool of your own choice.
In all three pools, the gushing was relatively high and no algae growth was observed.
Despite being so close to the river surface, there was no direct contamination of river water.
It was not deep enough and could be remedied by digging with a shovel, but I had to lie down to get a full body soak.
The water was tasteless, odorless, and lacking in features, with a lukewarm water temp of under 104 degrees F.
Despite the fact that a pit toilet was installed and hiking trails were developed, the hot springs were untouched, and the difference was astonishing.
But there is nothing surprising when one considers that many natural soakers place more importance on the natural environment to reach hot springs and how naturally the springs are gushing, rather than on a comfortable soak.