McCauley Warm Springs  LbNA # 35441

Placed DateSep 22 2007
LocationJemez Springs, NM
Found By (hidden)
Hike Distance?

McCauley Warm springs in the Jemez Mountains is one of the most family-friendly hot springs in New Mexico as the temperature of the springs is only about 85 degrees, the length of the hike to get there is about 2 miles, and the guppies living in it are easily caught (and released!) The springs bubble forth at an elevation of ~7,300 ft on the northern shelf above the East Fork of the Jemez river. A small rock dam encloses the source pool while a vegetation-covered dam circles a larger, guppy-filled pool. Both pools are about chest to neck high on a seated adult and are comfortably lined with volcani-clastic gravels. The water then makes its way down stream through a couple of other fun pools to the river.

McCauley Warm springs can be reached via the Santa Fe National Forest trail #137. The trail can be accessed from two different picnic areas along NM highway 4; Battleship Rock Picnic area, 6 miles NE of Jemez Springs, or Jemez Falls Picnic Picnic area and campground, 6 miles east of the junction with NM 126.

The trail from the Jemez Falls picnic area is well signed and easily followed. The trailhead is just west of the parking area for the falls. The trail slopes down hill as it winds through the vanilla-scented ponderosa forest past boulders of obsidian and welded tuff. Pick up a few of the light-colored tuff rocks to see if you can find some low-density pumice. Test the float-ability of your rocks in the spring's pools! The only drawback of this route to the springs is that it is uphill on the way back.
East Fork meets West Fork of the Jemez river at the Battleship Rock Picnic area. Trail 137 starts just past a gazebo-like picnic structure and follows along the left bank of the East Fork. Keep an eye out for poison ivy! Many unmarked trails crisscross the area but after about 0.25 mile Trail 137 leaves the river and starts its uphill climb. The trail is easily followed and switch-backs through Ponderosa pine forests past beautiful black and sometimes red-striped obsidian boulders. The Jemez mountains were formed by a series of explosive volcanic eruptions ending about 1 million years ago. Weird and beautiful landscapes resulted which draw many hikers and letterbox placers! Back to our trail...just before reaching the spring, the observant ones will spot the cobble-lined outlines of an ancient Puebloan village. Poison ivy can also be found along the spring's riverbanks.

To the letterbox: Start on the cobble dam between the little source pool and the larger guppy pool. Walk 90 degrees East, ~ 30 paces, to the "Y" vanilla tree. Walk due North, ~ 40 paces, to the giant lichen covered boulder. Make your way to its NW corner and carefully climb on top of the boulder. You should see three small trees; a ponderosa, a juniper, and a doug-fir. The doug-fir has what looks like a claret cup cactus at its base. On the eastern edge of the boulder runs a crack. Near the ponderosa, is an intersection of two cracks. At this intersection look beneath the pine needles. The box is hidden fairly deep within this crack. Tread lightly and enjoy!

Beck, of PetroPunks would like to thank her girl scout troop for help with this placement, and Bob Julyan for his book, Best Hikes With Children in New Mexico. We girl scouts would like to remind you to please carry out more trash than you carry in!