March 2015: While hanging in Sandy Utah for a couple of weeks on a ski vacation, I was craving a long soak in the natural mineral waters of a hot spring. After a little Internet searching I came across Fifth Water. I woke my hubby just after dawn the next day and we headed south to Uinta National Forest, and hiked into Fifth Water Waterfalls and Hot Springs.
The very scenic drive from the entrance of Uinta National forest to the trailhead is classic, utterly picturesque Utah. The road meanders thru Diamond Fork Canyon along a windy river; we passed a few fly fisherman enjoying the sunny weather along the way. The wildlife and scenic vistas of Utah’s famous red rock formations made for great roadtrip eye-candy.
At the end of the road… literally the very end, you will find the Three Forks Trailhead. Directions and map at Utah.com
Bring your ski poles! It can be very icy in the morning hours and our ski poles were a lifesaver!
The hike is about 5 miles roundtrip. The trail is in great condition and is a very fun and easy hike with minimal elevation change.
When you start to see/smell signs of the hot springs you are close! This warm waterfall would be great on a hot summer day. It is a little far from the “source” to be warm enough to soak in during the winter months.
There are at least 5 different soaking pools to choose from.
We liked this little 2-person spot with a nice view of the waterfall. The water temperature was easily regulated by moving various rocks to allow the cool creek water to flow in.
If you want to hike a little further, go beyond the waterfall pictured above, to the very top spring consisting of two more pools.
You are almost there when you cross this little foot bridge.
The large pool is deep, and can accommodate around 4 people comfortably.
Years past someone built a nice stone bench to place your towel and backpack on. Near the head of the larger pool (at Thom’s feet in the picture above) is a hole that lets in cool, fresh water from the creek. Once you plug the hole, the pool heats up quite quickly. It is such an active spring… just look at those bubbles!
Next to the large pool is this little 2-person enchanted pool. I like to think this is where fairies bathe.
Since we started our hike just after dawn, we enjoyed 3 blissful hours alone in the uppermost pools. On our hike out we counted 83 people hiking in. This is a very popular place. One friendly local we met during the hike told us he has been coming here since he was young… and it has grown in popularity consistently every year. He does not even attempt to go there in the summer months.
Fifth Water is a magical place. I will cherish this experience in my soul forever.
INSIDER TIPS: Bring your ski poles if going in the winter months! By afternoon, the trail can be pretty muddy… especially during the spring melt. Also, if you want a private “ish” experience, head up at dawn. By about 11:00 am daily many local college students arrive for a soak… and avoid the weekends at all costs. As in travel, always visit hot springs during the shoulder seasons. Don’t forget to bring a lot of water and a light snack.