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Take a Relaxing Soak at Saratoga Hot Springs

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

My first time visiting these hot springs was January 1st, 2020. I always try to do something outdoorsy on New Year's Day, gotta set the right tone for the rest of the year, you know. At least 2020 started on a high note, right? That nosedived quick. Anyway, it was a great way to start a new year, especially since I had spent the entirety of the 31st traveling. Remember that? Traveling? Flying? It was simpler times back then. This is getting depressing fast, back to the point. I had had a few people tell me about this spot, which is also known as Inlet Hot Springs, so I decided it was high time to check them out.

Duration: According to my GPS, which fair warning, was acting a bit wonky, it is exactly a quarter mile from the parking lot to the spring. It is a 10 minute walk. How long you stay at the spring is entirely up to you, plan for at least an hour

Difficulty: The trail is as flat as a pancake and well maintained. However, it is perpetually muddy around the hot spring, so be prepared for some slipping and sliding and potential embarrassment

Cost: Freeeeeee!!!! As a bird now....

When to Visit: Winter, duh. Who hot springs in the summer? My first visit it was 32 degrees and snowing. Highly recommend, so magical

Hours: According to their official website, Inlet Park is open from 7 am to 11 pm each day, though they list the trails as opening at 5 am. Other websites say the hot springs are open 6 am to 10 pm. So...I think if you wanted to head for a sunrise soak there is some wiggle room in that grey area

Good to Know: This area is monitored regularly, and there is a police station literally across the street, so I'd follow the rules, if I were you. Keep in mind this trail is shared with a wide array of extracurricular activities: I've seen runners, bikers, horseback riders, and even hunters, though they headed in the opposite direction of the hot spring {whew!}. Restrooms are located at the trailhead

How to Get There

You'll need to park at Inlet Park in Saratoga Springs, Utah. There are two parking lots that bare this name, and while they are a short distance from one another, you'll want to skip the first parking lot that has all the playground equipment, assuming you are driving from the east, and park in the second lot, the one with the bathrooms.

Once parked, you will take the trail that runs perpendicular to the lot. For those who are good with directions, this trail heads to the south.

You'll be on the trail for a quarter mile and it will take about 10 minutes to walk. The path is pretty straight and at the end you'll come to a T intersection. In front of you is the lake, to the left is the hot spring, to the right, I have no clue. Explore it and let me know if I'm missing anything exciting.

It'll be easy to tell the hot spring is to the left, as you will be able to see the steam coming from the pool at this point. Also lots and lots of mud. Just always muddy. So muddy.

What to Expect

The hot spring is nestled up just a stone's throw from Utah Lake, and between the lake and the mountains beyond you really couldn't ask for a more picturesque spot to take a soak. The trees and tall reeds make you feel secluded from the world, while in reality you're actually located just on the outskirts of a town.

The pool itself is a decent size, you could probably fit two dozen or more people in there fairly comfortably, albeit a little limited on personal space. It is the perfect depth for sitting, as the waterline will hit around chest height. The one exception is where the source of the spring comes up through the bottom. The dirt here is like quick sand, it will disintegrate under your weight and the water here is a toasty 107 degrees. This spot is easy to locate. For one, you'll notice the upswing in temperature. For two, there are bubbles rising to the surface here more frequently than elsewhere in the pool. That sounds a little sketchy sketch, but I promise it's not. Sometimes there is a PVC pipe sticking out of this area, you can see it in the picture below. The pipe kinda adds to the sketch, but it's only there because apparently if you finagle it correctly in this spot you can get water to geyser out of the top. Otherwise, there is no purpose for the pipe, so feel free to move it aside if it's ruining your selfie game.

The county maintains the hot spring, and they have built a couple of benches for you to sit on and a couple of racks for you to hang your belongings up and out of the mud. There is usually a trash bag hanging as well, but do the county a favor and pack your trash out and at least dispose of it at the trailhead.

Thanks to it's close proximity to two major universities and numerous communities, this little pool receives frequent visitors. Having a little privacy here requires patience and luck. Theoretically your best bet would be to visit on a weekday during the day, though no guarantees. I tried this strategy last time I visited and met Bambi, an elderly woman who is a regular, by the sounds of it. Bambi has some pretty strong convictions about a nuclear bomb she believes occurred thousands of years ago and created Death Valley, among other interesting theories that range from where Atlantis was located to Butch Cassidy shenanigans. You know, the typical conversation topics hardcore soakers tend to bring up. It made for a fun and unique afternoon, and she told me about some rad sounding areas I need to check out, so while I originally wanted some alone time, I'm chalking this trip up to a win.

Other Things of Note

This place is family friendly so maybe keep your clothes on. I've yet to go when there's not a toddler splashing around. There has also always been a dog in tow, which, props to those owners, because I could not deal with that much mud in my car! There is no lifeguard, so make good choices.

Inlet Park also has prime bird watching and fishing, while other areas of Utah Lake offer SUP rentals, boat rentals, and all sorts of other fun activities. You could easily make a full day or weekend out of a trip here, so come check it out!

{as always: practice LEAVE NO TRACE. stay hydrated. tell someone where you are going. wear appropriate clothing. be mindful of the weather. be nice to fellow hikers. have fun, make good choices, & hike smart}

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