• Aria Zoner

4 Exceptional Sections of The Hot Springs Trail

When I talk with people about The Hot Springs Trail, where are the best parts is usually their first question, and rightfully so. In this post, I share 4 sections of the HST and the things about them that are exceptional. As I think you’ll see, this quickly turns into a highlight reel that could make for an unforgetable summer's worth of adventures.


With each section having its own unique qualities, in my opinion, the entirety of The Hot Springs Trail journey is exceptional. I share a few of the reasons why I feel so strongly about this in one of my previous posts: Feast & Famine.

For now, let’s see what’s exceptional about this trail and how you can get to it…


Nevada is an exceptional section of The Hot Springs Trail



4 Exceptional Sections of The Hot Springs Trail


Ex·cep·tion·al – unusual; not typical:


With a range extending from Santa Barbara to Canada, it’s no wonder there’s more than 1 exceptional section on The Hot Springs Trail. But exceptional, in this case, doesn’t mean well-maintained and groomed. It means visiting or doing something that’s rare.


Here are some of the places or things on each of the major sections of the HST that I think are exceptional:


Part 1: The Coast Connect Trail


  1. Begins over the ocean on an east-west coastline.

  2. Travels for 7 trail-less miles down a creek bed with impressive narrows.

  3. Visits several places that would be considered Ultimate Hot Spring Areas.



Part 2: The High Sierra Hot Springs Trail


  1. Travels up the Kern River Valley for 128 miles. Large portions of this section can be rafted.

  2. Visits the largest dome in the entire Sierra Nevada - Tehipite.

  3. Summits Montgomery Peak - 13,447ft.



Part 3: The Nevada Trail


  1. Reaches the highest point in the state - Boundary Peak.

  2. Travels across 8 mountain ranges by means of trail-less ridge-running, for up to 33 miles at a time.

  3. Intersects the Geographic Center of the state.



Part 4: The Idaho Soaktennial Trail


  1. Travels alongside the Middle Fork of the Salmon River for an unbroken 100 miles. This section can also be rafted.

  2. Travels for 180 miles thru an unbroken section of wilderness - The Frank Church. This entire segment can be rafted as well.

  3. Visits 67 hot spring areas. (On my own journey in 2016, I soaked in a different hot spring area every day for 14 days in a row while I was traveling thru the southern part of the state.)



What about regarding The Hot Springs Trail overall?


Here’s a few things that are exceptional about The Hot Springs Trail, compared to other designated trails of similar length:


Overall: The Hot Springs Trail


  1. The Hot Springs Trail is not just a journey to hot spring areas, but to hot springs culture.

  2. Although this trail can be hiked in a purist fashion, the HST is not a trail made exclusively for thru-hiking. It’s a multi-sport adventure route that has official pack-rafting and bike-packing options. Also included in its guidebook are public transportation options, where available, which can be used to bypass some of the longer or more technical sections of the trail .

  3. The HST visits 100 hot spring areas, but only if all of the out & back hikes, recommended resupply runs, and multi-sport adventure options that are included in the guidebook are taken. For more info about user options and how they effect the overall spring visitation count for various ways of completing a thru-hike, go here.

To find out more about the exceptional places that are on The Hot Springs Trail overall, I’d suggest getting my Insider’s Guide. It’s free and will come to your inbox loaded with images from the trail, including some from places that were mentioned in this post.



In Summary:


The thing is, what makes something exceptional depends on what your own definition of exceptional is. To have an exceptional experience, the location where you’re at or what you’re doing doesn’t have to be the longest, highest, or any kind of record breaking or anomalous thing. It just has to be something out of the ordinary that gets recognized within.


For you, it may be the land that this trail goes across. For me, it's the kind of people that I meet at these kinds of places. For someone else, it might be the stats that they can hang on their wall of accomplishments.


What I think is exceptional about this trail is its ability to excite people to go adventuring, its tendency to motivate people to train, and its potential to help people appreciate hot springs in a new way  - as a National Treasure – and it’s able to do all of this without you ever having to actually step foot on the trail.


Until next time, here's to exceptional hiking conditions, whether it's on this trail or any other.