By Ryan Loughrey
A typical Redding Pre-Summer: glimpses of the searing heat to come, interspersed with rain and wind. While driving I will use the heater one day and air conditioning the next, and have taken my comforter on and off my bed multiple times in one night.
Before the true summer heat, there is one local destination I wanted to see: The hot springs at Kosk Creek. I’d heard of it from one of my friends who mentioned they had found some hot springs out near Burney Falls. It sounded like another adventure where I’d have to cross some farmer’s private field to get to it, but the trail was relatively well marked and I’m fairly certain I didn’t do any trespassing this trip. (Directions at the end)
It was a cool, drizzly Tuesday and my girlfriend and I packed into her Jeep to head east. (We stopped first at the Fresh Fire Grill in Palo Cedro, because I’d never seen a business last that long in that location and I’d never tried it. It prides itself in being local and healthy, and I have to say the meals we got were warm and delectable- a chicken teriyaki rice bowl and a tofu rice bowl. Would definitely recommend).
As we followed 299 towards Burney, we felt like we were entering a cloud. Although there had been light rain in Redding, the skies darkened and visibility was limited. Still, as we pushed on the weather held and we avoided a storm.
After turning north and eventually passing through Big Bend, the road changed from concrete to gravel, smooth to pockmarked with potholes. We came to a bridge over Kosh Creek, parked behind a silver Mustang, and walked on the muddy trail following the river westward.
We were greeted with signs telling us we were entering private property, and that “Permission to pass” was “revocable at any time.” As well as “No Camping” and “No dogs!” We got the idea that people probably have not been very respectful and have probably left a lot of trash in the past. We followed the trail on the river, which seemed like the trail that didn’t pass through private property. We first came to Kosk Hot Springs (Sometimes spelled Kosh Creek Hot Springs). It had been washed out over our heavy-rainfall winter, and looked in need of some repairs. This was definitely the hotter of the two, and there still existed a ring of hot water, as well as some exposed pvc pipe bringing in the water. We opted to keep exploring.
After returning home, I did some research on these hot springs and tried to find a ‘before’ photo. One of the best photos I found came from Scott Waters, a blogger who had been here a couple years before.
We followed the trail to Hunt Hot Springs (The wooden railing in the background leads to trail) and along the way passed two teenage boys, who must have been the occupants of the Mustang we parked behind. We arrived to Hunt Hot Springs, pleased to find we were the only ones seemingly within miles.
These springs had survived the deluge of a winter, and the concrete pools looked inviting and peaceful.
We got changed, and sat in the warm water. It wasn’t as hot as we expected, but it was still a very pleasant contrast to the stormy weather we had left behind in Redding. We had the pool to ourselves the whole time, and just spent the afternoon soaking and snacking.
We sat until the sky had just started to darken, and realized that it was getting late. We had probably been lounging for a few hours before we started to call it a night. We got dressed, found a few minuscule slugs on our clothes, placed them on the rocks, and treaded back. We passed one couple just coming in, and let them know about the hot springs ahead.
The walk back had some muddy and slick spots, and we were a little cold and eager to get in the warm car.
We drove back, my girlfriend Kiva in the driver seat and me in the back slumbering (I work graveyards and didn’t sleep much that day, okay?) as the skies cleared. We had packed out all of our trash, and I hope that future visitors do the same. This free location has seen better days, but it still is a great place to cross of a local bucket list. (Note: Some websites recommend bringing an actual bucket if Kosk Hot Springs is the destination, as the water here is much hotter and can be cooled with water from the river).
If you do go, be respectful of the private property and be sure to pack out what you bring in. You will be rewarded with an easy hike and a secluded spot to unwind.
The directions I used came from CommunityWalk, as they seemed to be the best at avoiding private property.
From Redding, head east on 299 for about 30 miles to Big Bend Road. Turn left and follow until Big Bend. Continue past the general store, across the bridge. The road will change from cement to gravel, and the road changes to Forest Service Road 11 (FS11). Follow FS11 for two miles (note: Watch out for and avoid FS 3702, which turns off to the right about .08 miles in). You will come to a bridge over Kosk Creek. Park near the bridge (do not cross over bridge) and there will be a cow pasture on the left. To avoid private property, follow the trails to the right along the creek and it is roughly a half mile walk to the Kosk Hot Springs. To find Hunt Hot Springs, follow the steep trail behind the pools over the hill.