Explore Summer 2018 Trip - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Summer 2018 Trip Map


The trail isn't too bad, but it is a bit strenuous if you are not used to thin air. Being from south Texas, we hadn't fully acclimated when we did this hike up to the lake, but we overcame it anyway. On your drive to the trail head, you'll be going through the Taos Ski Valley, up some slightly winding roads until you arrive to the lodges. Once there, you'll go up some steep, possibly muddy roads to the actual trail head. Be advised, if muddy, you may need a 4x4 or a vehicle with enough power to make it up. There are some bathrooms at the parking area; they may not be the cleanest, but at least there's the option to use them. At the very bottom, you'll be walking through some construction before you get into the forested area. Admittedly, this kind of threw us off a bit, we thought we were in the wrong section for the trail. You'll see some signs guiding the way, so fear not. There are a few sections that get a bit tricky if the rocks are slippery, but a set of hiking poles or even a walking stick go a long way. There are some tiny paths off the main trail that are softer on the feet than walking on the rocky pathways, which we used and made the journey smoother. As someone mentioned, once you start seeing some trees marked with blue paint you're about 1/3 to 3/4 of the way there. Just a short walk around a curve, up a hill with what appeared to be a quarry on your right, and you're there! It is windy, so dress accordingly so you won't be too chilled. We sat on some boulders overlooking the lake and had lunch. A cute chipmunk came up and it ate some nuts with us before it scampered off. We would have stayed longer, but it was a bit too windy. One day we hope to return and camp overnight in the summer months.

Absolutely amazing. Well worth the hike

In reply to Barbara Wilkey: No, the trail is not closed except to vehicle traffic.
And to Diane Grevelle: You didn't walk up the hill to the actual pool. The big pool lower down is silted in and filled with cattails, yes. But the springs just above them are gorgeous and look just like the photo at the top.

Water is about 3 feet deep with a clean gravelly bottom. I swear I've never seen water so clear and clean! It was about body temperature--not hot but warm enough to enjoy and feel great on a chilly, 50-degree day. We were there by ourselves in late afternoon in October and enjoyed the pools immensely. I knocked off a star because the walk there is kind of boring, but the springs themselves are a wonderful little surprise.

this trail is miles from ojo

17 days ago

This is a really great hike! I hiked with my 6 month old baby in a backpack carrier with no problem. Right when you start getting tired you're there!

Beautiful scenery. We had a picnic by the river before heading back up. Well worth it

Great view at end. Lots of little briars that caught on our dog in the last part of hike

Beautiful views. It is short, but perfect if you have pups! dont forget to pick up after them. ;>)

Welcome to paradise where the views are unbelievable and the birds eat out of your hands. This trail is marked so well, definitely a good hike. We took our 7 and 2.5 year old. They did great, the 2.5yo had to be worn in a backpack carrier on the way back but so worth it. There is construction in the beginning but once you’re past it, it’s beautiful. Super grateful we got to experience it, plenty of friendly hikers along the way.

1 month ago

A pretty trail, for sure. We went on a Monday, so there wasn't a ton of traffic. We took the more difficult "alternate" route on the left-hand side. If you're a hiker, it is nothing that I would consider hard. No summit or specific end-destination, but beautiful flowers and trees throughout.

Great hike. Well worth doing....

1 month ago

Construction at the beginning.
Once you see the purple/blue spray paint markers you’re about 75% there.
The pay off is definitely worth it.

I’ve done this home several times and I always love it!

Nice workout, good views!

1 month ago

Great hike, I could definitely feel the elevation! The lake at the end was very peaceful, the construction noise at the beginning was a bit irksome but what are you going to do! A bit longer than listed though, I tracked about 4 miles from trailhead to lake’s edge.

1 month ago

A bit more than moderate IMO. Marked pretty well. Beautiful views! Watch your step as much of it is a shale type rock and can be tricky.

Entrance to the left of the parking area. Beautiful views of the Rio Grande gorge and an easy and short hike down, even with two kids. Multiple hot springs await at the bottom along the river; one super warm, the other more like bath water. Springs are clothing optional, so I wouldn’t suggest this hike for the prudish.

Fun and easy hike to the springs and river. Hardest part is getting to the trailhead. After that it’s an easy hike.

The views were spectacular very little shade the sun was brutally hot if you have any issues with Heights this can be a pretty scary trail we only did about .3 miles down sat on the ledge enjoyed the view and then scramble back up again we briefly went back down to sit on that same ledge but since it wasVery hot that day we elected to not go any further still it was worth it to at least come out to this trail it’s about a good 30 minutes be on Questa it’s a very remote road there is a campsite there a water fountain and restrooms which was awesome

1 month ago

The Big Arsenic Springs trail takes you from the rim of the Rio Grande Gorge down a cliff face via multiple switchbacks which have been created with masonry, mortar and rock, making access through nearly vertical terrain possible. The park service has placed informational placards about certain flora and fauna along the trail which add interest and a chance for a brief break at certain points on the trail. After the steep descent, there is a central section which flattens out a bit before reaching an area of gradual descent to the Rio Grande river itself. At the bottom of the trail a beautiful spring creek's crystal clear water flows between large boulders into the river. I assume the water isn't palatable, given the name Arsenic Spring. There is a bit of poison ivy in this area so be on guard. I agree with another reviewer that the lean to shade pavilions at the bottom of the trail detract from the beauty of the area. The petroglyphs of bighorn sheep on a large boulder about 300 yards north of the Arsenic Spring are definitely worth a quick side trip. I've got to say, the ascent back up to the gorge rim was pretty rough on me, and I had a lot of knee and hip pain over a two week period. There were many stone lips on the vertical part of the trail, built to keep the water from washing out the trail, which meant a high step over them while climbing out. Overall the memory of this hike was great, and the scenery was excellent. I felt that the difficulty was under-rated and that it exceeded a moderate classification, mainly due to the condition of the trail.

Great path, beautiful beautiful scenery.
A little to much for me as a novice hiker, more so for the altitude I think. I turned back less than half way through

Up and up and up it goes. Beautiful overlooks

From a Texan

This was a nice easy trail view at the end was great. We did have to make our way around a small lake from water run off and got caught in a rain/hail storm on our way out.

not good for kids!

I mean I think if your kids are experienced hikers and rock scramblers they may be ok. I did it last month with children ages 3-6 and the scramble down to the pools was really challenging for them. Also, this being New Mexico, fellow hikers and hot spring users may be in various stages of undress- so there is that to consider. Not necessarily a problem, but it's worth mentioning.

the drive to the hot springs was pretty tricky as well.

All this to say- it's a beautiful spot! The river gorge is a stunning place for a soak and a rock scramble.

2 months ago

We actually did the loop which is part of the San Juan and Windsor. It’s 10 miles and a tough hike. I had my all trails turned on. Not sure why the whole hike is not recorded. We’ve done this hike 3 times. It’s a good workout.

2 months ago

A great hike. Lots of friendly people out on the trail. Good hike for the pup, too.

2 months ago

Great spot camping at the dispersed sites by the river. Beautiful views at the bottom of the canyon and fun time swimming in the river. August 2018.

Nice hike but for the beginning which has a rocky road. Wild raspberries, yarrow and scallions.

2 months ago

I did the “‘more difficult” route up. Because you’re hiking through a riverbed, the terrain is uneven and challenging, but I enjoyed it. Took the easier route down, which was lovely. However it was Saturday morning and TONS of people on the narrow trail. Was annoying the keep having to stop and step to the side.

We followed the written directions since the gps lost signal. The hike down is rocky at times but not difficult. River very low, possible to walk to other side, thigh-deep max. Met some wonderful people. One guy told about history of the place. Supposedly shady character Manby established a brothel by the river in this spot in late 1800s. Some brickwork still intact. Springs feature in ”Easy Rider”, early on when the guys visit a comune and go skinnydipping with two hippie girls. You can tell river was higher back then though. Lower now due to climate change (less snow in winter, very low in winter of 2018) and dambuilding in Colorado. Mesmerizing place, we absolutely loved it.

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