Fifth Water Hot Springs
When it comes to hot springs, there are two types: 1. The springs that for all intent and purposes are commercial grade heated swimming pools. 2. Those left in a semi-natural state and have had little-to-no human intervention. Regarding the latter, it’s hard to beat Utah’s Fifth Water Hot Springs which are tucked away in Utah County’s Diamond Fork Canyon. With the annual East Coast invasion of Park City, better known as President’s Day weekend, we got creative and decided to embark on some old fashioned snow biking hot spring adventure’n.
Diamond Fork Canyon is nestled off HWY 6 just past the town of Spanish Fork. As a rule, I try limiting time spent in Utah County at all costs, typically only passing through en-route to Moab or similar desert destination. However, Diamond Fork is a picturesque canyon filled with red rock, flowing rivers, and hot water that warrants a stop and further exploration. During the winter, the Forest Service closes the road to passenger vehicle travel so from the gate, you’ll need to head out on foot, bike, or other means.
From where the road is closed at the gate, it’s 6 miles to the official Fifth Water trailhead. The warm weather and slushy snow pack made for a challenging ride, even with a fat bike. Here we decided to stop, have lunch, and continue the remaining 1.5 miles in to the springs on foot as the rest of the trail is known to get rather icy.
The canyon’s volcanic history is present throughout. Sedimentary rocks form many of the canyon walls and have created some peculiar rock formations. About ½ way in you’ll cross a bridge. You know you’re getting close as the sulphur smell grows stronger.
The springs offered a much needed relief from the trip in. We spent about 45 minutes in the water before feeling rejuvenated enough to make the trek back to the bikes. Though the work to fun ratio is on the high side, Fifth Water Hot Springs makes for a great off-the-beaten-path adventure. While spring and fall are peak season to visit the springs, I highly recommend making the trip during the winter. The springs turn the cold air extra crisp and offer a therapeutic dose of the wild.