Coalinga Mineral Springs Road is a short north/south roadway in Fresno County in the Diablo Mountains west of Coalinga. Coalinga Mineral Springs Road is only five miles and is located entirety in Hot Springs Canyon. Coalinga Mineral Springs Road holds historic significance due to it's 19th Century origin as the stage road to the Fresno Hot Springs Resort.
Part 1; the history of Coalinga Mineral Springs Road
What is now Coalinga Mineral Springs was discovered during the 19th Century by James Rogers. Rogers had been hunting a bear and was washing his hands in a nearby spring which was found to be full of warm sulfur water. The spring located by Rogers was initially known as Roger's Sulphur Springs.
Roger/s Sulphur Springs was later purchased by Colonel Henry Burrough and came to be known as Fresno Hot Springs. Burrough built a stage road and a two-story bathhouse which opened during 1896. Below Fresno Hot Springs bathhouse can be seen in a photo sourced from the Fresno County Library.
The bathhouse at Fresno Hot Springs was later purchased by the Kreyenhagen family via foreclosure sale. The Kreyenhagen's would expand the bathhouse complex into the Fresno Hot Springs Resort. At it's peak several stages ran weekly to the Fresno Hot Springs Resort from Coalinga. Fresno Hot Springs grew in popularity when the community of Coalinga began to boom approaching the start of the 20th Century. The Fresno Hot Springs Resort would eventually become host to a dance hall, barbeque pits and a men's club. Reportedly there was over a dozen bathing springs which were located at the Fresno Hot Springs Resort. Numerous hiking trails centered around the Fresno Hot Springs Resort were developed as a form of recreation. The Fresno Hot Springs Resort during it's prime can be seen in a photo dated to 1910 in this image hosted by the University of California.
Below the stage road (now Coalinga Mineral Springs Road) to Fresno Hot Springs can be seen in a documentary on Benito Gem Mine.
A full version of the Benito Gem Mine narrated history video can be found below.
Below Fresno Hot Springs can be seen north of the Warthan Canyon Road (later California State Route 198) in Hot Springs Canyon on the 1911 Edward Denny & Company Map of Fresno County. Notably Fresno Hot Springs Resort can be seen near the small community of Warthan.
During the 1915 Second State Highway Bond Act Warthan Canyon Road through the Diablo Mountains was declared part of Legislative Route Number 10. Despite the Fresno Hot Springs Resort being only five miles from a State Highway it's fortunes seemed to have turned for the worse. According to a direct quote from Ed Kreyenhagen hosted on schweich.com the Fresno Hot Springs Resort property was leased before being sold during the 1930s. Notably what is now Coalinga Mineral Springs Road can be seen on the 1935 Division of Highways Map of Fresno County terminating at a nameless property north of California State Route 198.
By the 1940s what was known as Fresno Hot Springs came to be known as Coalinga Mineral Springs (as seen on a 1941 USGS Map on Historicaerials.com). The property around Coalinga Hot Springs appears to have changed hands amongst ranches for several decades after the decline of the Fresno Hot Springs Resort. During 1981 the Bureau of Land Management ("BLM") assumed control of much of the Coalinga Mineral Springs property via provisions of the National Recreation Trails Act. The old trail to Kreyenhagen Peak was assumed under BLM maintenance and became the Coalinga Mineral Springs National Recreation Trail.
On July 13th, 2020 the Mineral Fire began in Hot Springs Canyon on Coalinga Mineral Springs Road. The Mineral Fire would grow over the course of two weeks to 29,667 acres and would burn seven structures. The site of Coalinga Mineral Springs was damaged during the Mineral Fire.
Part 2; a drive on Coalinga Mineral Springs Road to Coalinga Mineral Springs
Coalinga Mineral Springs Road begins from California State Route 198 in Warthan Canyon. Signage on California State Route 198 notes Coalinga Mineral Springs can be five miles to the north.
Traffic on northbound Coalinga Mineral Springs Road is given numerous advisories and warnings. The entirety of Coalinga Mineral Springs is a paved one-lane road.
Coalinga Mineral Springs Road continues northward through a series of ranch properties following Hot Springs Canyon. Some evidence of the Mineral Fire can be observed in the trees and burned ranching infrastructure.
Coalinga Mineral Springs Road northbound crosses Springs Creek via a culvert style bridge dated to April 1929. These culvert style bridges were commonly constructed in Fresno County from the 1920s through the 1950s.
Coalinga Mineral Springs Road continues northbound and crosses a modern bridge span over Springs Creek.
Coalinga Mineral Springs Road continues north to another culvert style span over Springs Creek dated to June 1950.
Coalinga Mineral Springs Road continues northward to it's namesake Springs. Approaching Coalinga Mineral Springs there is substantial damage from the Mineral Fire.
Coalinga Mineral Springs Road is heavily washed out by spring runoff approaching the BLM Campground at Coalinga Mineral Springs. Numerous abandoned homes were once present at the entrance to Coalinga Mineral Springs which burned during the Mineral Fire. The abandoned homes can be seen on this photo hosted on schweich.com. Numerous warnings about burn area hazards are present at the entrance to Coalinga Mineral Springs.
Part 3; the Coalinga Mineral Springs National Recreation Trail
Access to the Coalinga Mineral Springs National Recreation Trail can be found by passing northward through the BLM campground (the former site of Fresno Hot Springs Resort) to a closed gate. The dirt road behind said gate appears on some maps as Bear Canyon Road north to Los Gatos Creek Road.
The Coalinga Mineral Springs National Recreation Trailhead board doesn't provide much insight on what to expect ahead aside from burn damage.
The Coalinga Mineral Springs National Recreation Trail is advertised on the BLM website as being 2.5 miles to Kreyenhagen Peak and 18 to 48 inches wide. The first mile of the Coalinga Mineral Springs National Recreation Trail displayed minimal burn damage. Kreyenhagen Peak along with evidence of sulfur springs can be found.
The Coalinga Mineral Springs National Recreation Trail begins to narrow after a mile but remains two track. Kreyenhagen Peak (3,550 feet above sea level) towers overhead a long and very eroded incline grade.
The Coalinga Mineral Springs National Recreation Trail begins a steep climb underneath Kreyenhagen Peak to a switchback. Some signs of burn damage and subsidence can be observed in places.
Views from the switchback over Hot Springs Canyon.
The climb to the next switchback remains two track.
The Coalinga Mineral Springs National Recreation Trail swings northward again and becomes a single track. Given there was some signs of subsidence and erosion that left only about 12 inches of walkable trail I decided to turn back a half mile from Kreyenhagen Peak.
The descent on the Coalinga Mineral Springs National Recreation Trail back to Coalinga Mineral Springs. Note; I did not encounter any other hikers on the Coalinga Mineral Springs National Recreation Trail.
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