Fifth Water Hot Springs are a popular a popular set of warm water pools along the cleverly-named Fifth Water Creek. When I was living in Price, after work we'd often load up the trucks with some beer and dinner and head up the mountain to hike to the springs in the evening and relax and unwind. During summer weekend days, this hike and the pools they lead to are very busy. Be aware:
Nudists sometimes frequent these pools. If you don't want to potentially be around or share a pool with a nudist, consider possibly choosing another hike.
The hike starts off from the parking area off of Ray's Valley Road. This road was an unpaved but good gravel road when I lived in Price, but according to overhead images from GoogleEarth, it appears to be paved. The parking area is wide and you can park on either side of the road. From the parking area, head west.
The trail starts off by following an old road turned pack trail turned hiking trail. Not far after leaving the parking area, you will pass through a gate. Here the canyon is not much to look at, and Fifth Water Creek is usually shallow and narrow. As you proceed southwest on the trail, however, the character of the canyon and the trail changes.
The hills surrounding Fifth Water Creek become taller and closer in to the creek. Meanwhile the creek picks up speed, becoming deeper, and swifter. As the canyon deepens, the trail begins to lose altitude. There are several steep, rocky sections that can be somewhat challenging, but no more so than the pour-offs in Kane Gulch. The trail finally drops from half-way up the ridge to right about creek level, meandering through a verdant riparian area. Occasionally the trail rises a bit to bypass some of the low waterfalls. There are some excellent campsites off this trail, but most people use this trail as a simple in-and-out.
As the canyon joins with Third Water Creek, a large waterfall plunges over the creek bed, some 15-20 feet. Immediately below this waterfall are the hot springs, with man-constructed walls around several areas of the pools. These pools are at different temperatures, with lower pools being cooler as more creek water mixes with the hot spring water. There is a very steep switchback from the main trail down to the creek bed just below the pools, which are just about 100 yards upstream of the bottom of the switchback.
Don your swimsuit, grab your beverages, and hop on in! The view is great and the pools are very relaxing. Be prepared to share the pools with other folks in the summer, but if you don't mind the crowds (or want some warm water on a fall day), this is a great hike with a relaxing end.
Another option is to through-hike Fifth Water Creek downstream all the way to Diamond Fork Canyon Road for a 5.2 mile hike requiring a car shuttle. The Southern Access to Fifth Water Hot Springs also starts at Diamond Fork, and is described elsewhere. - May 26 2008 Rob del Desierto