Saturday, March 3, 2012

HOT CREEK GEOLOGIC SITE (Long Valley, Mammoth Region, Eastern Sierras, Mono County, CA)

On our way back to LA from our summer trip to the Eastern Sierras in 2002, we decided to check out the Hot Springs Geologic Site, about 3 miles south of the Mammoth 395/203 junction. Totally worth the detour.

Hot Creek can be, in areas, muy caliente - hot, hot, hot!! We were not only impressed by the thermal springs and aqua blue hues of the water pools, but also by those "intrepid??" persons soaking in the roiling, boiling hot springs in apparent defiance of all the stern warnings posted by the U.S. Forest Service. You only live once, so why not defy the odds of potentially getting boiled to death? Not us, said me (and Gil agreed, for once...)

7/6/02 Hot Creek Geologic Site.

Gil, pretending he's in imminent danger.

7/6/02 Hot Creek. The creek originates (as an outflow of Twin Lakes) from the colds waters of Mammoth Creek. Mammoth Creek becomes Hot Creek when it crosses over the Long Valley Caldera on its eastward flow towards the Owens River. It is believed that the hot springs and fumaroles are heated by a large magma pool several miles beneath the valley floor.







7/6/02. Surprisingly, Hot Creek supports a plethora of aquatic life, including the native Owens Tui Chub and Owens Sucker (who the heck named these guys?). 


Location:  Mammoth region, Eastern Sierras

County: Mono County, CA

Management: U.S. Forest Service

Closest Town: Mammoth Lakes

Directions: From Hwy. 395 just south of Mammoth/June Lakes Airport (3 miles south of Mammoth Lakes Junction 395/203), exit east on Hatchery Rd. A sign reading "Fish Hatchery" marks the turnoff. Head wast for about 1 mile and follow the signs to Hot Creek Fish Hatchery. Continue 2.5 miles on a gravel road (subject to winter closure) to the parking area for Hot Creek Geologic Site.

Road Conditions: Hatchery Road is gravel for 1 1/2 miles to Hot Creek, but quite passable. 

Trails:  Short hike from parking lot down to the springs. Trail provides access to an overlook and observation bridge. Water is super hot in areas, but there are people and even fish in there! Traipsing through and/or soaking in the water is definitely not recommended - in fact, it's strictly prohibited by the USFS. But, heck, that stern warning hasn't stopped a lot of folks from dipping in.  

Species: As mentioned, the Owens Tui Chub and Owens Sucker can be found here. The creek is also a catch and release site for rainbow and brown trout. Birds are also abundant, including seasonal waterfowl, dippers, and cliff swallows. 

Fees: None

Amenities: Restrooms (flush toilet) & parking lot. 


Contact Info: Inyo National Forest, 351 Pacu Lane, Ste. 200, Bishop, CA 93514. (760)873-2400.

Hours: Sunrise to sunset. Hot Creek State Fish Hatchery is open to the public year round, 8am - 4pm daily. The hatchery raises several million trout per year for planting in Sierra waters and a gazillion trout eggs for other hatcheries throughout the State. 

Pets: Allowed on leash. 

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