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User Options on The Hot Springs Trail Explained

Accessing the 100 hot spring areas that are on The Hot Springs Trail can be done in a number of ways. In this post, find out what your options are when it comes to modes of travel and what to do if things don’t work out as originally expected, once you’re out there.

Completing The Nevada Trail - by Bike

Sometimes the hardest part about The Hot Springs Trail is deciding which way to go. Unlike traditional trails that are mainly just for hiking, the HST is a trail with options for multi-sport adventuring and at times, having no trail to follow at all. Let’s look at the 3 main ways that you can travel on this trail, plus learn how you can use each one to your advantage.


User Options on The Hot Springs Trail Explained


Multi-sport Adventures:

The Hot Springs Trail is primarily a trail designed for hiking but certain sections can be bike-packed or pack-rafted. Official options have been included in the guidebooks for these multi-sport adventures because in my opinion they add to the comfort and diversity of this trail as a thru-hike but also because they are adventures worthy of completing on their own.

Sunflower Flat Hot Springs, Idaho - by Raft

Currently, there are 3 multi-sport adventure options recommended in the guidebook:

1. The Wells, NV to Stanley, ID Bike-packing Option: This 400+ mile option saves the legs from having to walk across the Bishop Flats and allows for maximum time to be spent at the remote hot spring areas that are visited in these sections while still having enough resupplies to surpass the vast distances that are between them.

2. The Jarbidge River Pack-rafting Option: This option I’ve yet to do personally but it’s at the top of my list. Now, I’m by no means a river rafter but even options have options. *While on one of my discovery hikes along this river, I met a guy who was floating this section on an inflatable stand-up paddle board. He turned out to be the wilderness ranger! This journey-within-the-journey travels approximately 100 river miles. During these miles, portages around waterfalls are required, slot canyons with deep pools must be floated, and unknown obstacles must be overcome. Now that’s, my idea of a multi-sport adventure!

3. The Salmon River Pack-rafting Option – if a relaxing float that’s catered and guided is more your style, this 8-day option reaches a remote soak that’s possibly the most difficult hot spring to access in the entire US - Barth. Private trips are legal as well if you have the experience and equipment. *Minimalist pack-rafts may not be sufficient to safely complete this 100+ mile option.


XC Bypasses:

Some of the mountain ranges that The Hot Springs Trail travels across do not have developed or maintained trails on them. At other times, short interconnects are made that can be avoided if choosing to do so. Some of these XC sections have official bypasses which have been included in the guidebooks but others do not.

Choosing which XCs to bypass is best done after first attempting to complete them.

The Dragon's Tail XC, Nevada

Although these XC options do not access any additional hot spring areas, they stimulate a sense of discovery and appetite for a hot soak like no other. This ebb & flow of being challenged and rewarded is an intentional aspect of this journey.


High-water Alternates:

Hey, let’s face it, sometimes things don’t work out as we had originally planned. But whether it’s because of broken dreams or broken bridges, in a situation like high-water in the High Sierra, you’ve got options.

Navigating The High Sierra

Currently, there are 2 river crossings on the High Sierra section of the Hot Springs Trail where bridges are out and high-water has been known to wash away ones ability to cross them. Both of these places have high-water alternates written alongside them in the guidebook. Hopefully one day these bridges can be repaired. Park locals and a few officials have expressed interest in this possibility. I’ll be pushing for it more in the future.

Stay tuned for updates on this.


Weighing Your Options:

Options on The Hot Springs Trail are best taken like the days of the journey itself, one at a time. By using these options along the way, you can make extended loops, switch things up for a bit, or bypass an obstacle. Heck, you could even do them as their own adventures.

What would you like to know about The Hot Springs Trail? Ask here >



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