If you were to put the words Avid Hiker and my name in a sentence, it would read something like: Michelle is not an avid hiker. Or it could also read, not at all the avid hiker, Michelle heavily pants any time the ground slightly slopes upwards. However, thanks to this new venture with New World Nomads and more free time, I have been spending more time working on my cardio. I still breathe heavily on everything from stairs to slight hills, but I have begun to build stamina that allows me to keep up on outdoor ventures.
Thanks to a big dog community in Vegas, a lot of my friends like to spend time exploring cool areas around the city. One such recent adventure was the Arizona Hot Springs trail just outside Lake Mead. This spot was truly stunning and the water was so warm and relaxing, even though we actually stumbled across the hot springs by mistake.
My friend Bud invited me along to check out this hike he’d been wanting to try, and along with our mutual friend Joel we brought the dogs along for a day in the fall sunshine. The trail is rated as difficult which was slightly daunting, but Bud assured me it was only hard if you chose to climb down to the springs themselves.
We decided to take the alternative route that leads to the river. I must add here that although that was the decision, it was not the outcome. In fact, we ended up taking one of the most difficult routes to the springs, the whole time thinking we were headed to the river, and then having to retrace our steps out instead of doing the loop that would’ve saved us an extreme climb on the way out.
To reach this trail, you can head out toward the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead from Las Vegas. If you type in Arizona (or Ringbolt) Hot Springs to your maps or All Trails, both can lead you to the parking area which sits near a bridge that is easy to locate and offers direct access to the path. The first part of the hike, regardless of if you want the river or the springs, is mostly through a wash filled with loose dirt and sand. If you were hoping to get in a good leg workout, this spot is for you. My calves were burning the next day, but you can bet they looked killer in my Halloween costume heels afterward. When you eventually enter the canyon, the dirt is still loose but becomes a little less intense.
We meant to take Ringbolt Trail Loop, but as I mentioned we digressed from the path at some point and took a different route that ended up being the back way into the springs. However, when you park there is a map that lets you decide which trail to take and gives you an idea of how to get to your desired destination. At some point we missed the turnoff for the river, so we unknowingly made our way deeper into the canyon toward the springs over the next hour. Out and back was just under six miles and took around 2.5 – 3 hours. Make sure to bring tons of water – when we went it was only in the low 80’s but I ran out of water toward the end and it was all uphill back. That is another thing about this hike: it is mostly downhill going in and uphill on the way home. While it makes for an enjoyable start, you’ll want to reserve some energy to get back to your car. That part was a doozy.
We stumbled across the springs from the back entrance, but if you take the front way you’ll access them from a ladder. When we arrived, there was a steep cliff that led down into a shadowed canyon. At first it looked like you couldn’t get down from where we were, but there was a small portion of rock that you can climb down and up fairly easily, just watch your footing. You can follow the skinny path through the close set canyon and when you round the corner you’ll be standing at the foot of the warm springs just waiting to be soaked in. I brought Books, who is a 16-pound mini Husky and she managed the trip just fine. There were times we had to pass her down or back up a steep rock face, but other than that she kept up and it was fairly easy for her.
Aside from the brief portion of the return trip when I couldn’t get up a steep rock incline and my long time friend had to push my ass Looney Tunes-style up this smooth surface (twice, because the first time I fell and we both had to take a timeout to laugh), the overall experience was enjoyable. It is definitely moderate – difficult in some spots, so I highly recommend bringing lots of water, snacks and another person. Wear comfortable clothes that can also get wet, because the springs are too tempting not to rest your weary muscles in. Some people choose to go in the nude, so you might even get a very close encounter like the two boys I went with did when they found themselves climbing over and inadvertently straddling two very naked older gentlemen.
To each their own! I hope you enjoy as much as I did because this hidden gem is a must-try while in the area.