May the pools at Crabtree Hot Springs be forever protected and kept pure, for use in balance, by all who would seek them out!

And, Upper Lake's weather info is a must have, for anyone planning a trip to the geological phenomenon of Crabtree Hot Springs, and hoping for a warm sunny day, with plenty of blue sky, a gentle breeze, and clear nights for stargazing.

Rice Fork Eel River at Crabtree Hot Springs, California, USA
elevation 2,257 feet - temperature 106 F

At the northern end of Clear Lake, nestled in a beautiful valley of orchards & wine grapes, is the small pioneer town of Uper Lake, which is one of the oldest settlements in Lake County, and the last place to buy gas before heading to the hot springs.

Situated about 25 miles southwest of the hot springs, Upper Lake is conveniently located along State Highway 20, just 19 miles east of freeway 101, and only 130 miles north of San Francisco.

With nearly 1 million acres of mountains, canyons, lakes & rivers + the geological phenomenon of Crabtree Hot Springs, and as the only one of California's 18 national forests not crossed by a paved road or highway, Mendocino National Forest is especially attractive to folks seeking an outdoor experience of tranquility and solitude.

And Crabtree, although a remote & primitive hot springs, is easily accessible by an adequately maintained system of forest roads, and is the perfect spot, on a carefree summer day, for picnic party.

From the Upper Lake Ranger Station, travel north on Elk Mountain Road M-1 for about 14 miles to the top of the ridge, at an elevation of about 3,800 feet, from where there's a panoramic view of the southern half of Lake County, featuring Clear Lake and Mount Konocti, with an equally impressive view to the north of Hull & Snow Mountains.

At the top of the ridge, turn right onto forest road 16N01 towards Deer Valley Campground, which is about 3 miles away, and situated in a dense stand of knobcone pine at an elevation of about 3,600 feet.

About 3 miles past Deer Valley Campground, turn left onto French Ridge Road - 17N11 - and follow for about 6 miles to the bottom of the ridge, then turn left onto Twin Valley Road - 17N04 - and travel north towards Snow Mountain/Bear Creek for about three quarters of a mile to the confluence of Rice Fork Eel River & Salt Creek. Go ahead and park on the south side of the river, then, to reach the hot springs, walk downstream along the north side of the river for about a quarter mile. It's about a 10 minute easy hike.

NOTE: Weather permitting, the various dirt roads through the forest to Crabtree are open all year, and for the most part, seem to be adequately maintained for our small pick-up truck(with only 2 wheel drive, 4 cylinders & 11 inches of clearance).

View from near the 4,400 foot summit of French Ridge Road - 17N11 - with massif Snow Mountain, at 7,056 feet , in the distance and dominating the landscape of the Rice Fork Eel River watershed. Black-tailed deer can often be seen from along the road.

And finally, after a long adventurous trip, it's time to discover the magical healing properties of Crabtree Hot Springs, with its sacred mineral waters bubbling up from the bottom & sides of the river at a flow rate of about 10 gallons per minute, and a temperature of 106 F.

Mildly carbonated and distinctly mineralized by salts of soda and also of iron, the holy water at Crabtree is locally considered to be effective in the treatment of skin and blood diseases.

c. 1890 - John Fletcher Crabtree and his wife Elizabeth, with their covered wagon in the background. They are buried together in the Upper Lake cemetery.

About 1875, John Fletcher Crabtree & his 8 sons found the springs while following a well used Indian trail from their homestead at Twin Valleys, and instantly, the hot springs became historic, world famous, and widely well known as everyone's favorite picnic party spot.

Rocks, gravel & mud, plus sandbags for a foundation are used to keep out the colder water from the main stream of the river, and form a shallow hot pool for soaking, but every year, winter rains and snow melt flood the springs, and wipe out the hot pools.

So thank you, to anyone who brings a shovel & sandbags, and works to put the rocks back in place for others to enjoy every summer. The lower pool can comfortably accommodate up to 4 or 5 people.

Springtime high water. July, August & September are the best months for a visit, as the colder river water level is lower, and the weather is ideal for a picnic party.

Sometimes, there's only a few sandbags around the upper spring...

and then...maybe a small army of folks will arrive and have a party, with singing & laughter, while sandbagging the river. "Hallelujah!"

The hot springs are accessible all year, and there's plenty of room for camping on the rocky south shore of the river...

...and even during the winter, when high water covers the other pools, the middle hot spring, that's been concreted into a bathtub with drain, is always available, but it's only big enough for one at a time. Clothing is optional...but bring an old tennis ball to plug & seal the drain.

A short distance upstream, several other geological oddities can also be found - air blowing out of the hillside, and cold springs with an apparently large amount of iron content, etc...plus bubbles rising from the stream bed, but without any apparent odors that would normally be associated with escaping gas.

All in all, especially with the benefits of convenient and easy access, Crabtree welcomes the adventurous traveler seeking an outdoor experience of tranquility & solitude, at a remote & primitive hot springs.

And Twin Valley Road - forest road 17N04 - at Crabtree Hot Springs, has a large wide open parking & FREE roadside camping area, on the south side of Rice Fork Eel River.

+ it's okay to have a campfire by the roadside, along with a carefree all night party.

Also, by late summer, the water temperature rises to over 80+ degrees in the large swimming hole - which is warm enough for a midnight soak & swim party.

And while on a carefree summer vacation at the springs - our party was hearty.

Just a quarter mile easy hike downstream from the road - molten rock formations + bubbling waters & escaping odorless gases, along with minerals flowing from rocks on the hillside, and the strong smell of sulfur are among the natural oddities a visitor encounters when getting near the hot springs & large swimming hole.

Todd Mitchell memorial @ Crabtree Hot Springs Cemetery
commercial deer hunter - accidentally shot & killed himself
buried by Mr. Crabtree at the hot springs - before 1900


Leave flowers & a note for Todd

April 20, 2012 - And by the way, uglifying the forest & emitting bad vibes for the past 11 years, since 2002, is this huge eyesore of junk & trash along the public roadway just up the hill above the hot springs. We have never seen the occupants of this dumpsite.

Below, is how it all looked three years earlier during our trip in August 2009.

August 2013 at Recreation HQ - Crabtree Hot Springs

With favorable road condition info from the USFS Rangers at their office in Upper Lake, we headed for Crabtree and enjoyed a lazy three day vacation camping at the springs, with bbq grilled t-bone steaks for dinner the first night. We packed in plenty of ice cold sodas for the hot summer days, roasted marshmallows over a small campfire, and slept out under the stars as the nights were very warm. A few day trippers came by for a soak & swim during our visit, and they were all nice folks.

This time, we drove in & out from the north through Bear Creek, as it was early August and the only two water crossings were easy, and it's also the least amount of dirt road(about 14 miles) from the paved section of Elk Mountain Road.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, to all who sandbag the river every year.

NOTE: Twin Valley Road is the best of all roads in & out of Crabtree.

From Upper Lake, travel southeast on State Highway 20, towards Nice & Lucerne, for approximately 5 miles, then turn left onto Bartlett Springs Road(county road 303), and follow for about 12 miles to its junction with Twin Valley Road. Turn left onto Twin Valley Road(county road 303A & forest road 17N04) and follow(towards Bear Creek & French Ridge) for about 11 miles to the confluence of Rice Fork Eel River & Salt Creek. The hot springs are a quarter mile easy hike downstream.

Three of the four fairly easy creek crossings along the county 303A section of Twin Valley Road in April 2012. There's a concrete bridge over the fourth stream crossing.

End of county road 303A section of Twin Valley Road, and start of forest road 17N04 - about another 4 miles to the hot springs.

Click on the map image for a larger view.

And enjoy spectacular views, in all directions, from the summit of Bartlett Mountain's southeast ridge.

At an elevation of about 3,500 feet on Bartlett Springs Road - overlooking Long Valley.


Crabtree Hot Springs + Monday, July 18, 2011
store, illustrated maps, photos & visitor info + google panoramio map
Bear Creek Campground(USFS) - FREE & OPEN all year
...and only about 6 miles northwest of the hot springs

Thanks for visiting Crabtree Hot Springs...see you all later.


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