Explore the most popular river trails in Santa Fe National Forest with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Spence Hot Springs is a beautiful trail. I live in the area. Yeah, it is pretty sad when people trash the place treating it like some commodity provided by nature that they heard about on line. My partner and I visit when we can to clean up plastic water bottles, debris and baby diapers (child-friendly) that people seem to like abandoning there. Underneath all that is an amazing landscape apart from the hot water coming out of the hillside that people like to bathe in. Wild peppermint and arugula growing there too.

This is a seriously underrated hike. The scenery was just beautiful and the trail was easy to moderate. The mileage is incorrect however. Round trip it’s just under 20 miles. The description makes it sound as if it follows the river but it doesn’t, as such the last chance to top off on water is about 3.5 miles in at a horse trough. My friend and I did this as a 3 day trip and set up our camp at mile 5.4 by Bob’s trail junction. Having seen the rest of the trail and camping not currently being allowed by Pecos Falls I think it’s the best spot to camp by far. After the trail turns off the Hamilton Mesa trail to the Falls there are a fair number of downed trees but the trail is still passable.
In the morning I saw a herd of elk and I night we heard coyotes. I saw a fair amount of mountain lion scat. All-in-all this is an A+++ hike. Just perfect.

Stunning views!!! nice climb! really enjoyed it and will be back soon!

This place is incredibly beautiful and serene but has been abused by people who leave trash behind. My daughter and I picked up 3 full trash bags worth of garbage off of this trail the other day so please keep it clean. Don't leave trash behind and if you see trash, pick it up!

hiking
1 month ago

Sure was a lot o rocks.

mountain biking
1 month ago

This is, hands down, some of the best downhill biking I've done! (Maybe I should get out more?) We did make the mistake of starting at the Ski Basin only to walk our bikes uphill to the Norski TH. (Hint: Just start there!) The trail is well maintained and was such a fun ride! My 11 & 13 year old loved it, too!

2 months ago

Beautiful and challenging hike. There wasn't any snow when we went this weekend. Last 1.5 mile climb is tough but the views are worth it.

2 months ago

Great canyon, walk in creek bottom, sandy. Ends at Rio Grand R. Easy hike

Moderate to hard hike, trails are not well marked, especially river trail to red dot trail. Take extra water. Very rocky decent and climb. Beautiful scenery and small streams.

This trail should be marked difficult for two main reasons. Firstly getting to the trailhead is almost impossible without a vehicle capable of passing over very rocky and rough sections of the last five miles of the road leading in. We had a Land Rover LR4 with a high clearance and good off-road capability and it was very hard going at times. Secondly the hike down the side of the canyon that leads to the river was extremely steep and very slippery due to loose rocks. Climbing back up was very strenuous and exhausting. Having said all of that, if you can deal with those issues the views were absolutely spectacular, and getting down to the Rio Grand was very rewarding.

3 months ago

Beautiful scenery walked to the river, but went on a day when it was in the 90s. Very hot barely any shade, it’s an easy trail but not in warm temps. Bring lots of water. Brought my dogs and kept them on a leash to be courteous to other hikers and their dogs. Bring a hat! I was sorry I forgot mine.

Amazing view, a bit rocky but worth it.

hiking
3 months ago

Pools were kinda warm and the area was really trashed. Lot of broken glass, nasty clothing, dirty diapers and even a bag of dog poo in the lower pool. Pretty gross overall...

hiking
3 months ago

Canyon was neat, the rest of the trail was unnecessary.

Great trail. Beautiful with the light snow.

Not a bad hike, lots of sand..was like 4 miles of beach walk. Beginning was cool in the canyon

hiking
4 months ago

I only gave this hike a 3 due to the difficulty in getting to the trailhead and the lack of signage. It does have an excellent 360 degree views including; the Rio Grande, White Rock, Los Alamos. Due to the time it takes to get to this trailhead from Santa Fe 1 hr 20 min! I would suggest other hikes if you have limited time in Santa Fe. If you have more time, then this is worth it.

Be advised!!! The last ten miles driving to the trailhead (more on that later) is over a washboard road. Due to the washboard, driving more than 20 mph will be extremely bumpy.

Trailhead: other posts on Alltrails have links but I thought I would describe it for you here. We drove all the way to the end of the dirt road (literally, the road ends right at the Rio Grande). The Alltrails directions do not take you to this point so keep driving down the dirt road following it until you hit the Rio Grande. There will be a small bathroom building on your left as well as an enclosed large building where they pump water from the Rio Grande. On your right will be a teal colored pipe fence line and you need to crawl through that fence about 50' back from the Rio Grande and you will see a small trail heading ENE. Follow that trail and you will come to a large arroyo. Turn right and take the arroyo away from the Rio Grande. There are zero signs for the trail so keep a lookout for the two cairns situated on the left side of the trail as this denotes the entrance to the small trail heading up. Also, there is a small pine tree just to the right of the trail and it has an orange ribbon tied to it.

The hike is a good one and is a good workout. There is a flat mesa at the top that you will cross as you head towards the next peak and where you will get the best views!

The trail head all trails brought me to was definitely longer than .3 miles with a significant incline (more than 120 feet for sure). We didn’t even make it because my friend didn’t have the right shoes on and was sliding down the trail because it was so steep. We were pretty bummed we couldn’t make it.

hiking
4 months ago

Hiked this in January! Trail was totally ice, but we managed to find a way up! It was totally worth it. Gorgeous views. Pools were warm but not hot which was ok because with the hot sun shining down they felt perfectly refreshing with enough warmth to keep you comfortable but not overwhelming. We had the pools all to ourselves! Highly recommend!

So this trail was moderate to say the least. It was a loose rocky descent with little cairns to lead the way. There is also a variety of cactus throughout the trail to lookout for. The last part to the river is not well defined. The ascent while not lengthy was a huge elevation change and could be strenuous depending on your fitness level.
Would not travel when rainy as the last bit is through a wash. Noteworthy fact that you have a bit of Rocky offroading to reach the trail head.

However the view of the river at the end was beautiful.

hiking
4 months ago

Spectacular walk through canyon viewing rock walls and climbers. Then into broad open arroyo till reaching thr Rio Grande. Beautiful the entire way.

Didn't feel like a moderate difficulty but more like an easy difficulty.

Did the hike as driving through. Quick easy turnoff. Nice rock formations.

hiking
5 months ago

Beautiful!

Great hike, nice path not terribly rocky. About 4 or five stream crossings. Path continued on from the point at which AllTrails indicated it finished but did not have enough time to continue on. Assuming it went to a lake that other people show photos of. Another time perhaps. Fortunate to be able to hike this one without snow in December. Santa Fe is suffering from a drought currently.

Saw Bear tracks. . 4 wheel drive needed to trailhead.

hiking
5 months ago

Very easy and beautiful views but hot springs are luke warm at best. We took a picnic lunch and enjoyed the great views and unseasonably warm December weather but didn’t bother to even dip our feet in. Simple half mile trip is worth it for the views.

hiking
6 months ago

Wonderful scenery throughout the entire hike. We spent some time at the top, where you can see for miles! Be sure to bring good shoes, as it is quite rocky for quite a distance. Bring a camera to take pictures. It will make for a fantastic desktop picture.

Good condition and relatively easy to follow. Bring sufficient water.

Nothing special but definitely a nice leg stretcher. A lot of the trail is around private land and it is clear that you’re not particularly wanted. There also is active grazing so there will be cows. I imagine that parking is a problem in the high season as there are about 5 spots and menacing signs. I have done big sections of the trail from the top near the the ski basin. A good option if you want a leg stretcher but you can do much better in the Santa Fe area.

hiking
7 months ago

The trail was rocky as others have noted. Other than that it was a nice walk of several hours. The view from the top was amazing. The crucifixes along the end of the trail are reminiscent of the Blair Witch.

Load More