Rainbow Hot Springs [PRIVATE PROPERTY]

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San Juan National Forest

Rainbow Hot Springs [PRIVATE PROPERTY] is a 10 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Pagosa Springs, Colorado that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 10.0 miles Elevation Gain: 1,637 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

backpacking

camping

hiking

horseback riding

snowshoeing

forest

hot springs

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

blowdown

washed out

private property

NOTE: As of Spring 2019, users have reported that the trail is open even though there is blowdown and avalanche debris. Also the hot springs may be covered by debris. Please check with the San Juan National Forest before visiting.

hiking
1 day ago

Insane hike! Saw about 5 waterfalls, all different sizes. The best advice I can give for finding the hot springs is: When you get to the big opening with rocks and aren’t sure where to go, cross the tree trunk. Not sure if it’s supposed to be that way but we weren’t sure at this point in the trail then noticed it continues on the other side. Keep following the trail until you reach a “Y”. Go left and follow the trail until it diminishes. Keep going straight toward the river and you’ll run into two hot springs. The one by the river is cooler than the other. When you are done at those springs start heading back and you’ll see fallen tree trunks that look burnt. I think it’s a camping area but I don’t camp so that wasn’t super obvious to me. If you see a small trails on your right that goes towards the water then you passed it. It’s in between that trail and the “Y” one. You’ll kind of see a path toward the water but if you don’t just go to the edge by the river and walk left. Eventually you’ll see it. You’ll have to climb down toward the water and take a narrow path to rainbow hot spring. At some points you’ll question if you’re going the right way but you are. It will open up and you’ll see the hot spring. This one is WAY better than the other two so if you want to see all 3 do this one last. We went on a Saturday and arrived at 9:30 am. Only 3 other cars parked to the side and there was plenty of room for others. Not many hikers. There was a decently big wash out but logs to help you pass through. Pretties hike I’ve done in Colorado. I’m from Denver and it felt like this hike was in a whole different state. So worth it! Trail is actually 12 miles not 10.

hiking
6 days ago

Great trail with many different views- about 5 miles in trail goes off to the left to get down to the springs

hiking
muddy
private property
rocky
scramble
washed out
8 days ago

Fairly difficult trail requiring a good deal of stream hopping and fallen trees blocking the trail and a couple of exposed sections with bad footing. Passed many people turning back because they couldn’t find the springs. We eventually found them after asking some tent folk. Not sure we’d have found them wo the tent folk. Spring was nice though

hiking
9 days ago

The hike was better than expected, dramatic & interesting views in a deep canyon. I’m not about crowding into a small hot springs pool. If that’s gonna make or break your experience, I’d go super early or make it an overnight. I enjoyed a smaller warm pool all to myself... so pleasant. Plus American dipper sighting at the springs! Plan for sun.

Less rocky than the previous year, so the hike felt pretty easy! Lots of wildflowers along the way, such a gorgeous hike! When we got to the springs, there was large and loud group of around 8 or so people drinking in the springs. We waited patiently for almost an hour to have a turn, but to no avail. One of the girls kept burping loudly, so what was meant to be a relaxing mid hike hot spring stop was in fact a big disappointment. Didn’t even get a chance to fully submerge in the main spring because this group hogged the spring the whole time. Other hikers along the way let us know about the group and expressed sadness that they also did not get a turn. So inconsiderate!

backpacking
blowdown
17 days ago

3.5*. Cool trail, fun hotsprings, and beautiful waterfalls coming down each side of the valley, but the burned forest most of the way leaves something to be desired. Some green aspens and lots of little wildflowers were lovely this time of year. We hiked in at 4:30 pm on 5/16 and arrived at 7:15pm to the campsite area. There were two areas of steep washout that were tricky/scary to get past, hiking poles helped stabilize (also helped with the stream crossings). The trail was completely dry except for some muddy areas near streams. No snow. Saw maybe 5 groups of people hiking out, and 3 tents were pitched at the grassy bluffs overlooking the hotsprings on Saturday night. At the end of the grassy area the trail splits, and the left fork lead us directly to 2 hotsprings surrounded by grass. They had a lot of sludge at the bottom and were lukewarm at best, not really comfortable to hang out in. There was a campsite right there but we camped further up the trail so as not to be within 100 yards of the hotsprings. (Also, the other campsites on the bluff were taken – each one had room for several tents, but being from a different group we didn’t want to crowd the other people). The hot springs on the river are accessible from several directions – straight down the grassy bluff where the first campsite is, or you can go past the first few campsites to the last one on a grassy bluff and go left, there is a barely worn trail in the grass that goes down to the river and you can backtrack along the river about 100 yards to the hot springs. This is much easier/less dangerous. The river hotsprings were much warmer than the grass ones. They could probably hold 8 people, but aren’t very deep. The hike back out also took 2h45min. Note- we found 2 wood ticks on us, be sure to do a tick check, especially in springtime. The weather was much warmer than nearby Wolf Creek Pass. The parking area has maybe 10 spots. There are car camping areas off of the forest road leading to the trailhead.

hiking
blowdown
scramble
washed out
1 month ago

Couldn’t find Hot springs. Lots of blowdown and beetle fall with one scramble that was pretty dangerous supported by a rotted tree scrambling sheer sand

hiking
washed out
1 month ago

Edit: Added 2 photos so you can see what the blowout scramble will be like. Beautiful views the entire hike due to dead trees no longer blocking the view. Lots of dead trees blocking the trail, however they all can be passed with some effort, some much bigger than others. Only 1 or 2 spots with snow still along the trail but still can easily be hiked through. The trail is blown out about .5mi away from the campsites/hot springs, but can still be passed with assistance of a fallen tree (photos uploaded). The hot springs near the first campsites are washed out. If you continue hiking past the campsites until the fork in the trail, there are two more hot springs (warm springs). Weather was absolutely beautiful and warm, we mostly had the whole area to ourselves all weekend.

hiking
blowdown
private property
rocky
9 months ago

update 09/28/19 the washouts are way more passable. lots of friendly people on the trail today. weather conditions were good, chilly wind. 08/18/19 Only the first mile is Private Property. This trail is the West Fork Trail #561, the first ~5 miles is the Rainbow trail. I did this trail with my dogs to the pools. there are a couple washouts, may have to use your hands as well. the weather was great and the river ice cold, a good cool off to the hot spring. two pools on the one side of river and two on the other side.

hiking
no shade
over grown
private property
rocky
scramble
9 months ago

Challenging but rewarding trail! It was slightly longer than expected, but we also had to hike around to find the exact location of the springs themselves! Not for the faint of heart, many rocky areas.

hiking
washed out
9 months ago

Trail is super lush and wet. A few water crossings, so we were glad to be in chacos. There are two major washouts within the final mile of the hike, then you come to a clearing. There is a great campsite on the left and the way to the main hot spring is to make almost a U-turn at this campsite down to the left to the creek. Follow the trail (or lack there of) downstream for 50 yards or so. The springs are actually coming out of a wall of rock on the left. There are two more springs if you continue up the trail past the campgrounds. About 1/4 mile further up, you cross another less steep washout after which the trail forks. Take the left fork down to the little springs. There are some garter snakes living by the top spring but they are not aggressive and are scared away pretty easily. Overall there were awesome views and nice wild flowers. We also enjoyed hiking up the washout before the camp spots to the waterfall at the top - we had some company by a young bighorn sheep!

hiking
muddy
over grown
private property
rocky
washed out
9 months ago

Gorgeous hike but .2 miles from the hot spring there was a huge wash out so bad that we had no confidence that either of us could make it out

hiking
bugs
no shade
private property
washed out
10 months ago

Spent 2 nights near the springs on July 13th. Lots up uphill on the way there, several water crossings. I wish I'd brought trekking poles since the crossings were a bit difficult with a pack on. Gorgeous views! There are a few areas where the mosquitos are really bad so don't forget the bug dope! Just before the first avalanche debris field there is a flat area for camping at the cliff top to the left of the trail. Due to a fire many years ago, there are few trees left to use for hanging food/trash. We retrieved water from a stream that runs through the first debris field. Obviously, camp as close as you can so you dont have to haul water that far. The 2nd debris field is much larger and you must navigate large trees, walk over unstable ice bridges, and hope for the best. At this point, I was very happy we camped before the debris so we didn't have to cross with our packs! About 5 minutes or so after the 2nd debris field, you'll find a trail that breaks off to your left. This is where the 2 pools are. From what I was told, the main springs just up the trail was covered by debris from a VERY Large avalanche debris field just past these 2 pools. When we arrived, the first, warmer pool (farther from the river) was covered in lots algea and had snakes living next to it. The smaller and colder of the 2 was cleaner and right next to the river. We cleaned out all the algea in the first pool and scared the snakes away (We were determined to enjoy those springs!). We had a couple of hikers come by but otherwise it was rather private and peaceful. Right by the springs, you could see where people had camped before. This would have been such a nice site except for the fact you would have to carry packs over the debris fields. Overall, it was an amazing experience and the springs were worth the hike. If I would have changed anything, I would've invested in lighter gear, brought a fishing pole and hiked up to the Continental Divide.

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