Bear Valley Hot Springs
Bear Valley Hot Springs might be my favorite late season backpack. Its about 3 miles in, and is probably the best wilderness hot springs I know of. The main pool is at a perfect 102 degrees, has a gravel bottom with no algae, and could hold maybe 8 people at a time. The way in is either by a trail with a cliffy/ sketchy part for about 100 years, or the other way requires a fording of Bear Valley Creek.
It is only fordable in late season, and we hit it mid October, and the water was frigid. I tried to get a picture of some of the sketchy trail, so people could decide for yourself if you can handle it. Either way you go in, you need hiking poles, and a second pair of socks and shoes. Dave crossed in Crocs and it was OK.
The picture above is part of the sketchy part of trail. Its slippy, and the drop off is about 100 feet to the river below. There are some short straight up portions, but the worst are the short straight down portions. Hiking poles are a life saver.
Here is Dave on one of the better portions of the sketchy trail. Its only 100 yards long, but could be a freak out for some. This shows the drop off to the river below.
Above is the main pool, about 3 feet deep, a uniform 102 degrees with no hot or cold spots, a wonderful hot pool. Its all the better because there are no crowds, and its deep in the wilderness.
On the hike out we decided to try out the alternate route, fording the stream. The rocks were not too hard to walk through, but the water was like ice. Dave crossed first, then I crossed, then we called to Ginger to try to get her to cross. She got about 1/3 of the way across, then headed back to shore.
This was about as far as Ginger got before turning back. I dropped my pack and headed back for her using one hiking pole. Her pack had a handle on the top, so I grabbed her pack by that handle, and dragged her across. As soon as her feet got traction near the shore, she was off. Man that water was cold! The hike from the ford to a pack bridge across the river was about 3 miles.