Enjoy a Rocky Mountain High by Hiking to a Heavenly Hot Springs in Colorado
Now that fall temperatures have started to cool and Colorado landscapes are turning to gold, it’s a wonderful time for some high-altitude hiking to hot springs in Colorado. Colorado is blessed with an abundance of scenic hiking trails to tease you into the mountains, but none so compelling as hikes that lead to soothing hot springs. What could be a better prize at the end of an energetic hike than to throw off your hiking boots and splash your way into the relaxing waters of a bubbling hot spring? Here for your daydreams then are 5 Colorado hikes that lead to wonderful hot springs pools.
Steamboat Springs Area
The sunny Mad Creek Trail winds its way steeply to the Strawberry Park Hot Springs (4.5 miles round-trip). The hot springs are accessible by hiking trail, shuttle, bike or by car (4 wheel drive required after 11/1). Golden aspen trees line the way in fall and hundreds of wildflowers in spring, making this a very popular hike. The old rustic US Forest Service cabin lends a picture-worthy photo stop along the way. There is an admission fee at the hot springs park which offers both soaking pools and private massage pools. Picturesque walking trails wind their way through the park revealing covered wagons, tepees, tent sites, and log cabins, all offered for overnight stays. Pets are not allowed.
Glenwood Springs Area
Glenwood Springs is filled with wonderful hiking and exploring opportunities. With sites like the Hanging Lake, Vapor Caves, Glenwood Canyon, and caverns, you’ll want to spend several days exploring. The Grizzly Creek Trail is a challenging climb, raising 2,500 vertical feet along icy mountain streams, past waterfalls, lush forest, and brightly colored rock walls (approx 7 miles round trip). Since 1888, adventurers have been planning vacations here to take in the dramatic scenery. The Ute Indians frequented these sites as sacred and healing grounds long before. Today Glenwood Hot Springs has the world’s largest hot springs pool (about the size of a football field). A large therapy pool is kept at 104 degrees and contains 15 different minerals to soothe what ails you and then you can dash into the cooler huge soaking pools that is about the size of a football field. Lots of massage therapies and anti-inflammatory massage treatments are offered.
Although the name of this trail may give you a shiver, the Ice Lakes Trail meanders past crystalline glacial lakes, waterfalls and colorful sandstone rock formations to three scenic hot springs locations. The 7.6 mile (round-trip) hike leads through broad lake basins through the San Juan National Forest to a choice of three hot springs spa locations. The Orvis Hot Springs is a clothing-optional resort offering seven pools and delightful views of Mt. Sneffels. The historic Weisbaden Hot Springs Spa has a European flair and dates back to the original Buchanan Bath House built in 1879, although it was visited by the Ute Indian Tribes for hundreds of years. Perhaps its most popular feature is the large natural vapor cave that is purported to ease the aches of arthritis sufferers. The Ouray Hot Springs are tailored for family visits with water slides, shallow areas and inflatable floats. These hot springs are also free of the sulfur fumes that affect many natural hot springs and picnic areas are available.
Goulding Creek Trails is a great choice for wildlife seekers as there are frequent elk sightings along the steep trail. The 6-mile round-trip trail climbs along switchbacks above the famed Hermosa Cliffs before stepping down to lovely meadows of aspen groves. The Trimble Spa and Hot Springs has two geothermal pools and two saunas. The surrounding lawns attract sunbathers, as does the summer Music On The Lawn series.
For those who want a purely natural experience, this is the hike for you. Located near Aspen, the Conundrum Hot Springs have not been commercially developed which means they are both free and pristine. The glorious setting surrounded by mountain peaks is well worth the 17-mile round-trip hike. You’ll be relieved to know that most of the hike is through valleys, woods, and meadows, and past three river crossings before finally reaching the hot springs. This setting exemplifies what a natural Colorado high is all about!