Over the past couple of years, we've gotten at you a few times with our Weekenders series, wherein we take the Friday-to-Sunday stretch and make our way to a gorgeous place for some basic, beautiful down time. We've taken you here, here, and here, among others, and there are plenty more to come. Our only qualifications for a Weekenders location is that it a) be a reasonable distance away, so as to allow realistic travel within a weekend's time, and b) inspire us to live in and love on all the outdoor nourishment that Utah provides.
So, with that same spirit and a little less time in mind, we'd like to rev up a new series with the same end. The Day Trippers will serve to provide you with map-bound material for daily excursions of the highest order. We'll still be bragging up Utah and encouraging you all to get to know every diverse nook and cranny, but Day Trippers will send you only to those spots that are a hop, skip, or jump away from SLC proper. That's the whole point here, friends…to get you out, about, and back home by dinner (or slightly after). No hotel rezzie needed, don't worry about packing an overnight bag, and whether you decide to stop and eat on your way home or pack a lunch is entirely up to you.
First up on our list: Diamond Fork Hot Springs. Utah is obviously the go-to spot for world-class skiing and snowboarding. We know this. Our powder is unparalleled, and our resorts are so perfectly close to the city that a half-day is totally worth it. That said, we don't all relish in flying downhill in the cold. And one of the other best things about Utah is her many hot springs (some commercially-developed, some not). Diamond Fork--also known as 5th Water--is one of the best as far as natural surroundings go. The hike up is breathtaking (especially in the fall), relatively easy, and there are a few milky-blue/green pools of varying temperatures, so you're set no matter what your tolerance level.
DIAMOND FORK (5th WATER) HOT SPRINGS, 1 HOUR: Hop on I-15 South and set your coordinates for the Happy Valley. Cruise at a safe speed to Spanish Fork, where you'll take the US6 East exit (257). Stay on US6 East for about 11 miles, then turn left on Diamond Fork Rd. into Diamond Fork Canyon. It's a pretty and winding little road that you'll stay on for approximately 10 miles, until you see the Three Forks Trailhead sign. This is your parking lot, pals.
Take a hike: When you're ready to start, there are a couple of things to know. The trailhead is to the left of the creek, and you'll want to be sure that you don't take the footbridge near the restrooms (you'll cross another footbridge later in the hike, but this ain't it). From the trailhead, it's just a 2.5 mile*, gradual uphill hike to the springs. You'll know you're getting close when the water becomes a bit cloudy, and the hot springs will be just a bit further up on your right. We suggest that you check out all the pool options before you strip and submerge.
*Note: In the dead of winter (when hot springs are most alluring), Diamond Fork Road closes at roughly the 6-mile mark. You can still make the hike…it'll just add six miles to the trip in. And the trip back.
Our recommendations: Dress appropriately for the weather and the hike (example: the water is toasty, but you will be frozen and miserable if you can't layer up for the hike down). Don't forget your suit/trunks, a towel, and some water. It's also our opinion that the folks seen below did things right proper by bringing a flask full of whiskey, but you don't have to do things our way. Just think of how happy you'll be when you're soaking in the warmth and sipping your beverage of choice. For the love of Utah, be sure to pack out every last piece of trash you take in, and leave yourself plenty of time if you don't want to hike back in the dark. Ultimately, though, your priority should be to take a long look around and breathe it all in. Not everyone has it this good.