Rainbow Hot Springs

MODERATE 49 reviews
#2 of 73 trails in

Rainbow Hot Springs is a 10 mile moderately 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 April until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
10.0 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1955 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

camping

fly fishing

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

horseback riding

forest

hot springs

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

Directions to Trailhead: Take Highway 160 (towards Wolf Creek Pass) about 16 miles until you see a sign for West Fork Campground (just before you get to Treasure Falls). Take West Fork Campground Rd. (CR-648) about 7 miles to West Fork Trailhead (follow the sign that points to West Fork Campground 1.0 mile - don't follow 648A or 648B). Directions to Rainbow Hot Springs: (West Fork Trail-561) From the parking lot to the first campsite I found it was 7.56 miles. From the parking lot you will follow a jeep road passing several private residences. The beginning of the the trail is marked very well to warn you where property lines are. The jeep road ends 0.2 miles in and you will follow the trail along West Fork Canyon. The sign for Weminuche Wilderness is 2.36 miles in. From this sign you will go 0.07 miles to the first of 3 man-made bridges. From this bridge you will go 1.72 miles where you will see a waterfall to the left and a water crossing. From the waterfall you will go 0.41 miles to the 2nd man-made bridge. Another 0.25 miles and you will cross the 3rd man-made bridge and see a sign marked ‘Main Trail’. Stay on the main trail which will take you 200ft. up the east side of the canyon. Another 1.0 mile and keep your eyes peeled for the Beaver Creek Trail sign on the right side of the trail (it was closed when I went). Stay on the main trail. You should cross 3 or 4 drainages (the first may be dried up depending on the rainfall). The last drainage is fed by a waterfall to your right. Continue to follow the trail up the hill until the trail forks. Follow the trail to the left where you will see the first campsite (fire ring and 2 log benches). The campsite sits right on the edge of the canyon and oversees the hot springs and river. There is a steep trail from the campsite that takes you down to the hot springs.

1 month ago

1 month ago

camping
1 month ago

Had a great hike up. Hot springs were great after the hike. Had a small thunderstorm come over the first day but didn't last long.

hiking
1 month ago

2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

loved the trail but the sulfur springs are horrible. We weren't about to get in them. we didn't get to make the rest of the trek to the top springs. other than that I really enjoyed the trail and a ton of wildlife

backpacking
2 months ago

We went last year, and had a wonderful time. The trail is easy enough and we barely saw anyone while we were out there. We'll be back

2 months ago

hiking
2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

Great trail with some very beautiful views and a couple of small waterfalls you can see from a distance. Only reason it's not a 5 star is all of the dead trees. The beetles really did a number on the area. Still worth the 6 miles in we hiked though!

hiking
3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

camping
3 months ago

Great fun place. Long trail...6 miles to the hot springs and 12 to the Continental Divide. You can camp above the springs but must work to get down the slope to them. Enjoy!

3 months ago

We did this hike yesterday. We left the trailhead at 0730 and had the trail to ourselves. We were also the only ones at the hot spring! There were lots of downed trees on the trail, but they were easy to navigate. Beautiful hike!!

horseback riding
3 months ago

We cleared more of the trail 6.1 miles in to the top of the switchbacks. You can get around the downfall that is left. 3-4 camp sites occupied at the springs. Not much in wildlife seen.

hiking
3 months ago

Absolutely beautiful with just the right amount of challenge

hiking
3 months ago

So.. I have a lot to say about this trail. First off it says that the hot springs are 4 miles down. They are actually 6! That makes a huge difference. Make sure you wear the correct shoes, it's so much walking and climbing over huge trees towards the end. Second: plan your whole day around this. It takes quite a bit of time to even get to the hot springs and going all the way back probably takes more time because you're tired. Bring lots of water, a lot of the trees are burnt down from a forest fire so the sun is beaming on you a lot of the time. Great scenery though, and good experience. I would say it is moderate but definitely for people who have hiked before. It's definitely hard as in the mileage and how long it takes to get to the springs.it feels like it goes on forever lol.

3 months ago

Great trail. No longer heavily blocked. Gorgeous views through the beetle killed forest. Dead trees for miles, fallen everywhere, looks like a combination of fire and beetle kill. Also some interesting sedimentary rocks near the trail at a lot of places. Low traffic.

backpacking
4 months ago

May 2017 - Trail is HEAVILY BLOCKED by fallen trees the entire trip. Plan on at least 3 hours up and climbing over and under trees that are waist to chest height. Camping is limited due to precarious trees & already fallen trees which cover most of the available flat areas. Pools are about 90 and 75 - frost covered the whole mountain at night so don't forget your hat & gloves for that morning hike down. VERY BEAUTIFUL HIKE - I would suggest most wait for trail service to move the trees, my hips and legs are still killing from all of the crawling, lunging and squatting I had to do this trip.

backpacking
4 months ago

Good warm up for the summer. I would disagree with another reviewer about the springs being 8 ish miles in to the springs. That would clock me and my friend at least 4 miles an hour with packs on from trail head to campsite. So maybe 8 ish miles in and out. A few relevant things:
There are three quality camp sites that I saw. The first is because it's right next to the springs but if there are other people around, expect them to tramp through your site. The second one is a little less than a quarter mile further down, and has an excellent open view of the valley. The third is tucked away being the waterfall, and it should give you some privacy with the down fall of a 10 min walk to the springs instead of 30 seconds.
Forest service had their chainsaws out and were taking care of the downed trees on the way out so the trail should be clear here on out.
Yes, lots and lots and lots of dead trees, so if you are looking for lush, green scenery, you are not going to get it.
My friend's altimeter counted about 850 net elevation gain.
Road to the trailhead is 2wd.