Jordan Hot Springs makes a great overnight trip. The trip can be done in a day, but one may not be able to fully enjoy resting in the hot springs. Prior to the area becoming a wilderness, people would enjoy these springs. In fact according to the Inyo National Forest Mount Whitney Ranger District, Native Americans used this area for summer encampments for hundreds of years. The springs were named after John Jordan, who while building a trail from Visalia to Olancha drowned in the Kern River. Later miners, travelers, and recreationalists would use the springs during the summer. In the early 1900’s there was a resort established. However, once Congress signed the Wilderness Act in 1978, the development around Jordan Hot Springs was slowly removed. Today visitors can see the old cabins, “cow camps,” and pillars in the springs were docks were built. Read the full history HERE. A PDF reader is required.
Download the map! -> Jordan Hot Springs Map
The route to Jordan Hot Springs begins at the Blackrock Trailhead at the end of Forest Service road 21S03 on the Sequoia Nation Forest. The trail heads north at 8960 feet in elevation and descends to Jordan Hot Springs for 5.2 miles. Shortly on the trail hikers will enter the wilderness boundary and be in the Inyo National Forest. The trail is an easy downhill descent into Casa Vieja Meadows. As the trail goes along the west side of Casa Vieja, it intersects another trail entering in from the north to northeastern direction. Take the trail west and down the Ninemile Creek drainage. Here visitors will get to see areas impacted by the McNally Fire of 2002 as the trail continues its steep descent into Jordan Hot Springs.
After leaving Casa Vieja 3 miles back, the trail meets up with a historical cabin. It is not habitable as the cabin is leaning. Please do not disturb this historical structure, but instead take a few photos and proceed across the foot bridge to the right (east) of the cabin. Approximately 0.2 miles later the trail will be just north of Jordan Hot Springs (6570 feet). A cow camp is south of the hot springs on the outskirts of a meadow. A nice open and sandy area just north of the hot springs can make a good camping spot. Enjoy fishing, relaxing in the hot springs, and the views of Manzanita Knob (9121 feet) to the south.
Slide show photos provided by Professor Richard M. Luppi. Check out the comments section below to read about his early adventures here when the camp was up and running back in the day. Photos were taken in October 2015.
When I was a kid in the 70’s, you could rent a cabin there (south side of the creek). The owners still had pack animals that came in every so often, so there was a corral at the springs and one at the trailhead at blackrock. There were no stock there when i was, but there was plenty of manure on the trail so we knew they had been there recently. The “resort” had a swamp cooler set up to keep foodstuffs cool. You could buy a cool-ish canned coke for the insane price of $1 from that cooler (in the mid 70’s, canned pop was never more than $0.35). We did not stay in the cabins, we stayed on the north side of the creek. We initially set up just north of the knoll with little warm puddles on it, that drip into the creek. But before we could get everything staked down, a thunderstorm rolled in and convinced us to move a little further ne, under some pines that Google Earth shows to be still standing. We soaked our feet in the puddles after the storm blew threw, and next day we “showered” (no soap of course!) in the dripping springs down under an overhand in the creek bed. We hiked to our location directly from the south, and so never knew about the cabin to the south east that I guess the trail next to now. We had to walk on split log walkways (single logs split and lined up lengthwise, so you needed decent balance in your pack) north, crossed the creek over a large fallen log, and set up camp. It’s been fun remembering. Crazy how much things change in the wilderness in 40 years.
Thanks for sharing a personal story about your time back there. I enjoyed the read as I am sure others did too.
Came across this post while on a cruise down “memory lane”. Wife was Bald Mtn Lookout and I was a FPT (Fire Prevention Tech) for 3 years (’74-’76) and we made many hikes back there. Was trying to discover if the Casa Vieja cabin was still standing. We remember the folks that packed into Jordan .. Burkharts I believe .. that had their pack station down near Fish Crk I think. Wow, Guess we need to go in for a visit…. Before we are unable!
I also packed in to Jordon Hot Springs in the late 60’s and 70’s. And you are correct, it was the Burkharts who had the packing station, worked there many a summer! Did you ever take a “bath” in the cement bath tub?! We use to be up there for 2 weeks at a time. Horses in the meadow, along with a bear or two! Great time to be a kid! Hated when the park took over, blew the cabins up, I think the bath tub too. 😦 Blow up the cabin, but not the memories! Did you ever go the annual bbq in Kennedy Meadows? Another great place/time
I worked for the Quinn’s who ran it after the Burkharts for seven years. As their head Packer. I worked for them from 1983-90. Then during that time started going to Alaska. They sold to a couple Jim and July Parker. They were short feeding the stock and not caring for the people so I didn’t come back. It was great before the Forest Service took it away from a commercial operation. Because we we the ones who maintain the buildings. I was insurmental of getting the buildings saved. But they were supposed to have a hostess in there and maintain them. You can see that didn’t happen. Makes me really mad because that’s not what was well. At least their there.
Porter was their name NOT Parker.
Thanks for sharing a personal story Fred. I enjoyed it. Hopefully others will be willing to share their stories too.
Yes, the Burkhart’s ran the operation there for many years. I spent many years as a youth there during the summers. I miss the area very much and reading the posts take me back many years and I wish I was still there.
We use to pack in to Jordan Hot Springs every other year. Loved the Burkharts!! Use to watch Mrs. Burkhart make breakfast in the biggest cast iron skillet I have ever seen! She would cook up a breakfast in no time and it was the best! They use to let me give riding lessons to kids while we were there. I was only 10 years old at the time. Mr. Burkhart said I was the best little rider. Think he told that to all of the kids, but it made me feel special. There was an Appaloosa filly that I loved, Fantastic Lady. He let me care for her and said I could buy her the following year. Well, she got sold during the off season but he said she went to a great home. He felt bad and let me ride any horse I wanted that summer. They were the best people. Great times and memories that were had.
Great Stories!! I briefly worked for Irwin Burkhart at Jordon Hot Springs as a cook & packer in the early Summer of 1981 just before I rode into Oregon via the Pacific Crest Trail that Summer and early Fall. Irwin and Alice Burkhart operated the Kennedy Meadows Pack Trains and Jordon Hot Springs Guest Ranch. I distinctly remember the problem of mice in the kitchen of the main cabin. They were everywhere! I dealt with them by filling the sink with water just before bedtime so they would drown during the night. I would then dispose of them in the early morning just before preparing breakfast for the guests. I remember the swamp cooler and cement bath tub for the hot springs. There were two hot springs for the guests, one hotter than the other but both under shelter. My riding horse, Gypsy, and pack horse, Bozzo, enjoyed the grass in the nearby meadow. I hope to revisit the area this Fall after almost 35 years.
As planned, I hiked into Jordon Hot Springs last October, 2015, from the trailhead at Blackrock Saddle with backpack and rifle. It was a steep descent to Casa Vieja Meadows and even steeper to Jordon Hot Springs. Much has changed since I worked there almost 35 years ago. The horse corrals are all down but two main cabins remain locked. The stand that held the old swamp cooler still remains upright devoid of its wire mesh sides. The cement bathtubs at the hot springs are gone and only small upright pillars remain. The entire scene is rather ghostly but evokes memories for those who either worked there or visited the site years ago. My initials still remain on one of the cabin walls.
Thanks for sharing! Always nice hear some history of an area from those who had been there in the past.
I would be willing to share pictures of my visit in October 2015 if you wish. Professor Richard Luppi
Sure! Be great to share it with other users of the website, especially if you put a brief description of each photo to help readers out.
Richard Luppi who did you work for? I worked there too. I worked for two of the commercial owners that had permits to run Jordon the Quinn’s and the Porters. I was there from 1983-90. I You have a tin nailed to a tree with my name and years I was there nailed to a tree where my wall tent was up on the hill. I understand a fire went through there, and took out some of the cabins. Was the saw mill still there when you were there, and the front gate? I and some friends from Palm Springs put that front gate in one year. The friend was one of the grandsons of the Burkharts. Who is a Contractor in Palm Springs. One summer they donated a on demand hot water tank for the kitchen. I was the one that got everyone together to save all the structures there a Jordon. That was when I was working my last year for the Porters. Have a picture of all of the forestry personnel, historian, and the Porters all standing together in front of a sign I made by the Bunk House, and corral. The end result of the meeting was that the structures were saved, but they could no longer could be used commercially. The Forest Service would make it first come first served. The Forest Service would do the maintenance on the structures. When I worked there I would take a frow and make new shingles’s. I would make repairs in the same manner the original construction was done. Never using plywood or today’s material. I really took pride in working here, and taking care of the meadows. Maybe being a Guide and Outfitter in Northern California, Southern Oregon, Alaska had something to do with it. Also being on the Board for a fish hatchery. I think I just understood what a trusure Jordon Hot Springs is. I always think it is sad to have to go to a museum when you can go to the site. What the commercial companies were doing was not costing the Forest Service anything. They were making money, but now they are not getting the revenue for the maintenance. We all know what is going to happen. With winter damage, bears, and vandals forestry is going to go in and clean everything out. During the summer months they were also to have a host in there. Someday I’ll have to post all my photos or write a book. There is a large cedar tree in the coral if you look east of it there is a tall peek. We use to run to it each season under an hour. There is no trail. There is a jar with a tablet and pencil in at the top to sign. There is another one on top of Red Rock as well too. Fun Facts:
Greg, do you have the name of the “friend -grandson of the Burkharts”?
They were Purcell’s grandsons of Clarence Purcell, a former owner of Jordan. I am still in contact with the Quinn’s, and they are one Facebook.
Hi Greg, I just noticed your writing and wish to reply. I worked briefly for Irwin Burkhart at Jordon Hot Springs in the Summer of 1981 just before I rode into Southern Oregon with horse & pack horse via the Pacific Crest Trail that year. My initials ” RL ” are still inscribed on the outside wall of a small log shelter just East of the main building site. I revisited the area by foot in October 2015. Yes, a fire destroyed a lot of the surrounding trees but not the buildings. Most of the machinery for the saw mill still remains above the main building site but the corrals are all down, together with most of the fences and the old canvas/ wood structures. The large cedar tree still remains . You can see pictures of the old buildings which I took in 2015 on my FACEBOOK page.
I was a licensed Guide and Packer in Colorado and also did the same work in Central Oregon in the Three Sisters Wilderness, outside of Bend. Greg, where did you work as a guide and outfitter in Southern Oregon? Cheers, Richard
Chetco, Rogue, Elk, Sixes, Umpqua Rivers
Also in California on the Smith, Klamath, Ell Rivers and in Alaska on the Kenai, and Kisilof. For Salmon and Steelhead.
Sheila Burkhart, Greg Nicol….The two brothers (Clarence & Elmo Purnel) purchased Jordan Hot Springs lease in the late “40s and ran it until the early-mid 60s, when they sold the lease to the Burkharts. I’m one of the grandsons of Elmo and the two grandsons you mentioned (Clarence’s) are Raymond and Randy. I remember a “Jingles” Burkhart from my times at Jordan. Grandpa & Uncle Clarence ran guided fishing trips over to the Kern River and Uncle Clarence would also run Jordan during deer hunting season.
correcting “lease sale to Burkharts” , further readings show that the lease was sold to some Dr before going over to the Burkharts.
I think it was Randy who lived in Palm Springs who had a construction company helped redo the front gate. Is he on Facebook? I have a photo of him and I and his dog up on top of it after we get it done. LOL
What a blast from the past. I worked at Jordan a few summers in the mid 80’s.