Fifth Water Hot Springs Trail, Utah
Fifth Water Hot Springs, also known as Diamond Fork Hot Springs in Utah are like something you would see in a Lord of the Rings movie!
The hot spring’s bright blue water runs down the river for quite a long way and as you get closer to the top you will find these incredible pools that you can soak in! Most of the pools are the bright electric blue colour and a couple of them are a darker greenish colour.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know to plan your adventure to find the hot springs, including where to park, what to bring with you and of course whether the hot springs are actually safe to soak in! I’ll also share a little bit of what our adventure was like hiking to the hot springs in early Spring.
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Hike Stats (from the official trailhead)
Distance: 8km / 5 miles out and back
Elevation Gain: 213m / 700 ft
Time: 2-3 hours
Dogs allowed: Yes
Toilets: Yes, at the trailhead
From Salt Lake City: 1 hour 20 minutes
📍 Where are Fifth Water Hot Springs located?
Fifth Water Hot Springs are located around a 30 minute drive from Spanish Fork in Utah and around a 1.5 hour drive from Salt Lake City. The hot springs are found in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest.
Click here to open the map in Google Maps!
How to Get to the Fifth Water Hot Springs Trail by Car
If you are travelling from Salt Lake City, you will need to take the I-15 S all the way to Spanish Fork. You will then need to turn onto the US-6 E and continue for about 50 minutes before turning left onto Diamond Fork Road. You will be on Diamond Fork Road for around 30 minutes before turning left into the parking lot for the trailhead.
Can you get to Fifth Water Hot Springs Without a Car
Unfortunately, there is no public transport that will take you all of the way to the Fifth Water Hot Springs trail, so I recommend hiring a car, if you don’t already have one.
Finding the Trailhead
If the road is free of snow and open, you can drive all of the way to the trailhead, however the parking lot is small so you will need to arrive early to get a spot. Alternatively, you can park just before the gate. You will notice a parking lot here. This gate closes when it snows and if you park here, you will need to hike an additional 2.5km each way along the road.
There are no facilities at the hot springs themselves, however there is a pit toilet at the trailhead. Please note that there are no trash cans at the trailhead, parking lot or anywhere along the trail and so you will need to pack out all of your trash with you.
🏕 Camping at Fifth Water Hot Springs
Camping is allowed at Fifth Water Hot Springs! You can hike in and camp along the trail to Fifth Water Hot Springs at one of the dispersed camping spots.
🕐 How Long Does it Take to Hike the Fifth Water Hot Springs Trail
If you are hiking in the snow, it may take you a little longer to reach the hot springs, however otherwise, the Fifth Water Hot Springs trail will take around 2-2.5 hours to complete.
🥾 How Hard is the Fifth Water Hot Springs Trail
The hike is easy – moderate. It is fairly long but does not have too much elevation. I highly recommend checking the trail conditions on Alltrails in advance of doing this hike. Other than there being a possibility of snow in Fall, Winter and Spring, there was a small landslide obstructing the trail when we did the hike. This meant that we had to climb up and around the landslide which added a bit of a technical scrambling aspect to the trail.
🐶 Can Dogs do the Fifth Water Hot Springs Trail
Dogs are allowed on the Fifth Water Hot Springs trail, however must be kept on a leash.
🕐 When is the Best Time to Hike to Fifth Water Hot Springs?
Winter is always a lovely time for a hot spring adventure, however snow always comes with extra obstacles. During Winter when it snows, the road to Fifth Water Hot Springs trailhead gets closed, adding an extra 5km to your already fairly long hike.
We did this trail in very early Spring when there was still snow on the trail and the road was still closed. We made the mistake of not checking recent alltrails reviews and did not bring our micro spikes which was a huge mistake. Not only did the hike take twice as long but I slipped and fell on the icy trail probably around 10 times. I’m not sure how Dave managed not to fall over at all. I’m going to put it down to the fact that he is a ninja. 🙄
So here is my warning to you, if you do the Fifth Water Hot Springs trail in Winter or a shoulder season, make sure you check the trail conditions on Alltrails and also bring along a pair of micro spikes just in case.
Fall is also a lovely time to do the Fifth Water Hot Springs Trail as there are some beautiful Fall colours around the hot springs.
In my opinion Summer is way too hot for hot springs and I’m sure these particular springs will be even more crowded in Summer as well.
🙄 How to Avoid the Crowds
You are probably thinking, but Kerry, how did you get all of these gorgeous photos without the crowds of people in them?
Dave and I were strategic and made the effort to hike in at sunrise. We were almost the only ones there. We saw a couple of other hikers walk past a little later but the continued on to the upper hot springs.
We starting hiking back out at around 9:30am and saw a couple of other hikers on the trail about mid-way. Once we got back to the road, we began seeing the crowds. There were probably about 50 people or so starting the hike. At this point it would have been around 10:30 – 11am.
If you want to avoid the crowds, start hiking super early. The parking lot also isn’t all that large, so arriving early is also helpful in getting a parking spot.
🦺 Are the Hot Springs Safe to Soak in?
You should always be careful when swimming or soaking in any body of water because you never know what sort of bacteria might be present. It is always best to do your research before you go to avoid getting a “hot tub rash” or anything worse.
The best way to check whether the hot springs have any bacteria present is to visit the Utah.gov website.
If you visit Fifth Water Hot Springs, government of Utah also recommends:
- Do not dunk your head
- Do not drink water or get it in your mouth
- Do not let pets drink water
- Avoid contact with algae growing on the sides and bottoms of some pools
🚶♀️ The Hot Springs Hiking Trail
Overall, the trail that you will need to take to Fifth Water Hot Springs isn’t too challenging. The most challenging thing that we experienced was the slippery snow when we went, but this can be easily overcome by wearing micro spikes on your boots. We also came across a small landslide along the trail where we had to climb up and around, however I’m sure trail maintenance is undertaken fairly regularly as the trail is so popular.
Start of the Hike
The hike starts from the parking lot where you will find a pit toilet (not very nice when we were there). You will hike next to the river and cross a bridge pretty early into the hike.
Middle of the hike
The Fifth Water Hot Springs Trail is pretty straight forward and is the same the entire way. The muddy trail goes up and down a little but is not extreme in steepness at any point.
Reaching the Hot Springs
Soon you will start noticing that the water running along the river beside you has become a crazy icy turquoise colour. Something else that you may also notice is the sulphur smell of the hot springs (like rotten eggs) which will become stronger and stronger as you get closer.
Keep walking and soon, you will see a bit of a clearing where the trail opens up a little and breaks off into two. You will see the most popular hot springs on your right and can stop here or you can continue on to the upper hot springs and find the waterfall. It is not too much further from here if you want to do this but this is where we chose to stop and take a dip in the pools.
We found that the light blue pools were not as hot as the green pools.
🥾 Do You Need to Wear Hiking Boots on this Trail?
Both Dave and I wore our hiking boots as the trail was quite wet, muddy and icy. I can imagine that after the snow melts, the trail would be pretty muddy so hiking boots would be a good choice. However, trail runners would also be find as long as you don’t mind them getting a bit muddy.
Packing List for Your Hot Springs Adventure
- Hiking Boots or Trail Runners – Wear whatever you are most comfortable in while also checking the trail notes. I can imagine this trail being pretty muddy when it is free of snow so boots may be the better option. My favourite boots are the Oboz Bridger Mid B-Dry Boots and Dave’s favourite boots are his Scarpa Kailash Plus Gore-Tex Backpacking Boots.
- Hiking Socks – Good hiking socks are important to make your boots as comfortable as possible! Some great hiking socks are the Smartwool Hike Classic Edition Light Cushion Crew and the Darn Tough Hiker Midweight with Cushion Micro Crew socks.
- Micro Spikes – During Winter, you may want to bring along a pair of micro spikes if the trail is icy. We have a pair each in our backpacks on every hike we do in the Winter and they have come in handy more often than not.
- Merino Top / Tee – Merino is a great material to hike in so we use Merino tops to hike. Our favourite Merino tops are from Icebreaker!
- Fleece – My favourite fleece is the Patagonia Better Sweater 1/4 Zip.
- Puffer Jacket – We love our puffer jackets to keep warm at the beginning of a walk and then once we are at the viewpoint. Dave’s favourite puffer jacket is the Arcteryx Cerium LT Hoody and Kerry’s favourite is the Rab Microlight Alpine Down Jacket.
- Rain Jacket – Check the weather before you go, but if there is any rain in the forecast we recommend bringing along raincoats which can also double as a wind breaker.
- Beanie – We never go anywhere in Winter, Spring and Fall without our beanies!
- Swimming Costume – If you want to take a dip in the hot springs.
- Hiking Poles – if you prefer hiking with poles.
- Towel – make sure you pack everything out that you brought in with you including your towel.
- Safety Items such as a first aid kit, bug spray, sunscreen, headlamps and a navigation device.
😉 For a full guide containing all of the things we take hiking, check out our hiking gear guide!
🌲 Leave No Trace
Fifth Water Hot Springs was probably one of the worst places we have been to recently with regards to people not adhering to the leave no trace principles. When we arrived, we immediately noticed a pile of about 10-12 dirty towels next to a tree and then we found another one in one of the pools which is just disgusting behaviour.
It is so important to remember that you are not at a resort at these hot springs. There is not going to be a pool attendant pass by to collect your used towel after you leave. You are in the middle of nature and so you need to treat it that way! It is also mind boggling to me that there were so many people who had made the effort to carry their towel to the hot springs but couldn’t be bothered to bring it back with them.
Anyway, rant over. My overall point is, leave the magical hot springs the way you found them and the way you would want to find them. If you need a refresher on the leave no trace principles you can check them out here.
Note: There are no trash cans anywhere along the trail or at the trailhead so be prepared to pack out all of your trash with you. We find it helpful to bring a plastic bag with us for wet clothes towels and any trash that we think we will accumulate.
🛌 Where to Stay Nearby
Fifth Water Hot Springs are not too far away from civilisation and so there are plenty of accommodation options. There are also some great campsites nearby the hot springs.
The nearest towns to the hot springs are Spanish Fork and Springville which is where we stayed. We found that the Days Inn in Springville was convenient and comfy.
Days Inn by Wyndham Springville
Best Western Mountain View Inn
Quality Inn – Spanish Fork (This is the closest hotel to the hot springs)
There are a few great campgrounds near the trailhead to Fifth Water Hot Springs. These are called Three Forks Campground, Diamond Fork Campground, and Diamond Campground.
Three Forks Campground – This is a primitive campground meaning that there are limited facilities.
Diamond Fork Campground – This campground has a pit toilet and is located very close to the start of the Fifth Water Hot Springs Trail.
Diamond Campground – This campground is great for car camping and has picnic tables and pit toilets.
💭 Our Thoughts
We were so surprised at how busy this trail was! On our way back we passed people with small children, people with dogs, people who looked like they were dressed for a beach day rather than a 13km hike and so many more! Even though the road was closed to the parking lot for the Hot Springs Trail, adding on an additional 5km and the fact that the trail was super slippery didn’t seem to detour people.
Honestly though, the hot springs themselves were like something we had never seen before so we would say that they are 100% worth the hike!
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