Fifth Hot Springs HIKING GUIDE - Winter edition

Hello adventure families!

We are so excited to share this incredible hike with you today. Hiking in the winter with kids might be a bit of a challenge, we definitely had a few curve balls, but it was INCREDIBLE! And I think a winter hike to Fifth Hot Springs might be our new tradition. We will be sharing a bunch of tips throughout this post as well as sharing our favorite pools and why.

Learn from our mistakes. And prep before you go and you will have a great experience. Also, be sure to read the *winter tips at the end of this post so you know which trail to take to avoid the worst part of the trail. Also, be sure to check out our summer hiking guide HERE. So you can get a better feel for the trail. 




Lets start with disclaimers and warnings:

-Be prepared for nudity. I warned my kids ahead of time that they might see some naked people, to be respectful, and don't stare at strangers, that goes for clothed or naked. And of the flip side, if you are heading to the springs to become one with nature, thats all good, but respect goes both ways. Someone messaged me about a woman that kept standing up (nude) in front of her teenager. There is room for everyone at the springs, please be respectful of others.

At one point we left the kids in a pool and Dan and I walked up to the top to check out some other pools. I was watching my step on the muddy trail and when I looked up I was 4 ft from running right into the naked backside of a man! It's not every day that you see a... well, I guess it is every day in my case, but still a little shocking. 

-The outhouses were absolutely destroyed! I walked in and wondered how that much mud could possibly be on the floor, when the parking lot is gravel/snow. Then I quickly realized that those heaps of mud were actual human fecal matter EVERYWHERE! There is a big ol' hole to put that crap in, and yet, people chose to poop alllll over the floor? 

I think the bathrooms are better cared for in the summer months. I don't recommend using them in the winter.

-The last 1.6 miles of the road is closed off in the winter, so you have to park at the bottom parking lot (street parking is not allowed and tickets are given regularly). 

Although I have hiked this trail before, and it's an easy hike, I SEVERELY underestimated this hike in winter and am SO grateful that I waited for a day that Dan could come with us. I never would have made it alone with 5 kids and heres why.  The 4.5 mile hike is super easy, not steep, and the path is in good condition.  But in the winter the last 1.6 miles of the road is closed. You have to park at the bottom parking lot. That makes this 4.5 mile hike a 7.2 mile hike in the snow and ice. That is quite the hike for littles. We forgot to bring our carrier so Dan carried Wells at least 6 miles. The trial was very icy and tons of people were slipping. We all had a good time and it was very comical, but dangerous if you are carrying kids. 

Dan and I found these awesome spikes (on sale for $10), so we didn't slip or fall, but all the kids fell more than once. But they had a blast sliding downhill on the way back. We wouldn't have survived without the spikes.

In addition to spikes, waterproof boots are a must for hiking in snow/slush/ice.

It was so muddy at the springs that Berdee washed her shoes off as we were leaving. I didn't realize until it was too late. She had to walk the entire way back without socks in freezing cold wet shoes. Half way down, I sacrificed my own socks so she didn't get frostbite. Pack extra socks, and make sure your kids don't get anything wet but their towel and suit.

Wells shoes got wet too, just from walking in the slush, so he went shoeless, and wore dans socks, and Dan carried him the whole way back to the car. He ended up falling asleep, so he was a complete rag doll, dead weight the whole way.

There were tears shed, lots of slips and some falls, but it was all worth it in the end. We learned that we can do hard things. Some of us had to sacrifice to help others. 

Another thing to consider are all the wet swimsuits and towels that you will have to haul back down the mountain. Our pack was super heavy. Luckily we had a waterproof bag so the wet stuff didn't get us wet too.

Our biggest mistake was taking a camel bag that was broken, so all of our water leaked out and we were literally dying of thirst! We had to walk the whole way back (1.5 hrs) without water and then drive 30 min back to civilization before getting a drink. It was brutal! The Hot Springs can dehydrate you quickly because of the minerals and heat. So take extra water!

I'll be ordering new bags before our next hike. I think it's time that the kids pack their own water/food. And makes it easier to conserve/share in an emergency. 

As far as winter hiking. Coats for kids are a must, but for everyone else, I recommend a hoodie and puffer vest, good gloves or mittens (my kids love these), and a hat

As long as your hand, head, core and feet are warm, the rest of you will be just fine.

I also recommend hiking up in your swimsuit, then putting all wet stuff in a waterproof bag when you're done. I have a turkish beach towel and LOVE it! It rolls up super small, it's light, so it drys quickly and it's super absorbent. I'm going to be ordering this awesome set for the rest of the kids. No more hauling giant heavy beach towels all summer.


Ok, I think that covers all the tips. Check out a detailed trail guid HERE. And scroll below to see the springs in winter!



Helpful Tips

The first few pools are really smelly and not very warm. Keep going 100 yards or so and you will find the good ones. This first one has a beautiful waterfall and is deep enough that wells could stand up to keep his head above water. The water was warm, but not hot. So we call this the baby pool.



Next, we hiked up stream a few yards to find the bright blue pools. These we call the mama pools because they are just right. Perfect warm, beautiful colors and many pools with different depths.





Someone has worked really hard to make these little pools. Please be respectful and lets keep them nice so everyone can use them.

We skipped around to 5-6 pools in this middle area. They were all very warm but a little different. 



Next up, we headed to the very top where there is another waterfall. Last time I came here, this spot was so hot, it was basically just a geyser in Yellowstone, ready to cook anything that fell into it. 

Someone built the rocks up and made it into the most beautiful swimming hole. 

This is the daddy spring, definitely the hottest of all the pools, but if you are next to the waterfall it feels perfect. You just have to get there fast so your flesh doesn't melt off on your way. The left and right side (where I got in) were the hottest parts. Enter in the middle and go straight to the waterfall.

It also had this cool cave for exploring. 





Have SO MUCH FUN! And be sure to tag us so we can share! We love to see you out adventuring with your family and friends! And as always, thanks for stopping by! We hope this guide is helpful. 

You can help support our blog by clicking on an ad on your way out. It won't spam you, but it will help us pay for our website overhead and keep providing high quality FREE content for y'all. 

Thanks so much. xo



Length 4.5 miles RT

Elevation Gain 636 ft

Entrance fee - None

Dogs - Allowed on leash

Bathrooms - outhouse (not kept up in winter, covered in human fecal matter)

Phone - No service


*Road is closed in the winter months, you will need to park in the lower lot. This will at 1.6 miles to reach trailhead

*100% recommend spikes/crampons. Good news, they are on sale since its the end of the season. $10 HERE. The trail is covered in ice and there are a few hilly areas to go up and down. You will definitely slide if you don't have them.

*About a mile in, there is a bridge, and 100ft after it there is a fork. TAKE THE LEFT FORK. The right looks easier in the snow/ice, but it is almost impossible to pass and everyone we passed had to back track if they went right.

*It took us 7 hrs total from parking to playing at the springs, then back to the car. 3 hrs total hiking. 4 hrs swimming.


Each hot spring is a different temperature, so Fifth Water Hot Springs are enjoyable in any season. Bring plenty of water because the hot water tends to dehydrate you. Don't forget your swimming suit. Keep an eye out for bears.

Pack extra layers, socks, hat, gloves, waterproof bag, turkish beach towel, waterproof boots, food and extra water!

Located in beautiful Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Fifth Water Hot Springs is a popular destination for visitors and locals from the Salt Lake City area. These scenic hot springs are located in Diamond Fork Canyon, which splits off from Spanish Fork Canyon. From the trailhead, follow the trail southeast along the east bank of Sixth Water Creek. Do not cross the footbridge. After 1.0 mile, you will come to another foot bridge, which you should cross. This is the junction of Sixth Water Creek (from the left) and Fifth Water Creek (from the right). About a mile after the footbridge, the water will turn milky blue and start smelling like sulfur, a sign that you're getting close. About a mile from the footbridge, you'll see the lower hot springs on your right. Someone built a rock pool and diverted the hot water into it, so it's pretty deep. Another 20 yards upstream are two other hot springs. One is on the left side of the river about 50 feet downstream from the base of the waterfall, and the other is on the right side of the river about 50 feet downstream from the base of the waterfall. There are several soaking pools that have been made for your soaking pleasure. Fifth Water Hot Springs are very popular and as a result there have been a lot of visitors leaving trash, hiking off trail, or otherwise degrading the environment. If you love this place- bring a bag with you on your hike to pick up trash. Be sure to wear shoes when walking between pools as there have been reports of broken glass on the trail. There is lots of parking and a bathroom at the trailhead. Parking on the street is discouraged as parking tickets are common.

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