May 18, 2017

Backpacking to Diamond Fork's Fifth Water Hot Springs

Eager to take my new Tarptent Notch out for its first night on the trail, I ended up selecting a very popular destination not far from home: Diamond Fork's Fifth Water Creek Hot Springs.

Day 1
Tuesday - April 11, 2017

I had planned to leave earlier in the evening when there would have been just enough day light to make the hike and set up camp before it got dark.  That didn't happen, but being familiar with the trail and the fact that there would be a full moon, was not discouraged and went for it anyways.

When I arrived at the trailhead, I was shocked to find how full it was.  It was dark and in the middle of the week and there was still nearly a couple dozen cars in the lot.  I managed to find a space though and began the hike, wondering if any sites in the area I had hoped to camp would still be available, or if they'd all be taken.  With only about two miles to go, I'd soon find out.

Fortunately, I found that vacant sites were plentiful.  Only two were occupied.  Others were just there for a late night at the hot springs while others were already making their way down as I was hiking up.

I selected a cozy little spot and settled in for the night.  Not feeling the need for a big fire as a solo camper, I took up a silverware caddy from IKEA made of thin stainless steel that I used for a small fire container burning just a few handfuls of sticks and twigs.  I made a late dinner and then got into bed for the night, or so I thought.

Fire in a caddy



Not long after getting all bundled up in bed, the moon popped out above the ridge above and so of course, I in turn popped out of my tent to take a few pictures.  It's always incredible how bright a full moon can light up the earth under a clear sky.  Even back in my tent with its fly on, there was so much ambient light that it was a little difficult to fall asleep.

Full moon over camp

Full moon through the trees

Full moon

Day 2
Wednesday - April 12, 2017

The next morning I awoke and headed up trail a short distance to grab some pictures of the hot springs, falls, and vicinity before the sun's harsh light and any approaching crowds filled in.

Fifth Water Creek

Fifth Water Creek

Fifth Water Creek

Fifth Water Creek Lower Falls

Fifth Water Creek Lower Falls and Hot Springs

Fifth Water Creek Lower Falls

Fifth Water Creek Upper Hot Springs

Fifth Water Creek Upper Falls

Fifth Water Creek Upper Falls

Fifth Water Creek Trail

Back down at Fifth Water Creek Lower Falls and Springs

Green and Blue

Fifth Water Creek and Hot Springs

Fifth Water Creek and Hot Springs with lower falls in the background

Fifth Water Pool

Fifth Water Pool

Hungry and satisfied with my picture run, I returned to camp to cook up some breakfast and hot chocolate.  With the clear skies, the temperature had grown quite cold through the evening and a hot breakfast was in order.

Camp along Fifth Water Creek

Waiting for breakfast

With a happy stomach and the sun now reaching over the horizon, I threw on my swimsuit and headed back up to the springs to soak in the hot pools for bit.  Somehow I managed to get all of the pools all to myself.

Soaking in a pool

Xero Shoes DIY Huaraches

After a good soak in a few of the pools, I returned to camp to pack up and head back down trail.  As expected, the crowds were now parading up.  On my way down, temperatures had climbed high enough that a dip in the cold water would have felt almost as nice as the warmer water did earlier in the colder morning.

Sixth Water Creek

Trail along Sixth Water Creek

Small arch

Small arch

After a short while, I was back at my car at the trailhead where I unloaded and got going back down the road.  Just a few minutes back down the road, I pulled over for a little bit of exploring in the Red Ledges Picnic Area.  It's pretty amazing that in the Wasatch Mountains, known more for their alpine environments, there are still little pockets of exposed red sandstone formations, features you only expect to see in the central and southern parts of the state.  Red Ledges is one of those little pockets complete with an arch.

Red Ledges Arch

Starburst through Red Ledges Arch

Starburst through Red Ledges Arch

Back side of Red Ledges Arch

Red Ledges Picnic Area

Red Ledges Picnic Area

Red Ledges Picnic Area

Above Red Ledges Picnic Area

Diamond Fork from Red Ledges Picnic Area

It was now time to get back home for the afternoon and once again I reflected on how fortunate I am to have the job I have that allows me to live where I live, where access to such a diversity of trails, landscapes, geology, and beautiful backcountry destinations are all within a half hour drive from home.  



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About Will

Will Will lives at the footsteps of Utah's famed Wasatch Mountains. He enjoys hiking, camping, backpacking, sports, running, vegetable gardening, nature, food, photography, art, and spending time with his wife and kids.