I have taken scouts to Diamond Fork Hot Springs on two different occasions and have somewhat mixed feelings about this destination. Let’s start with what I like.
This is a great hike for new scouts or young inexperienced backpackers. The trail is not tough at all with only a slight elevation gain (650′ in 2 miles) that provides a nice opportunity to show how much fun backpacking can be. There are a few decent camping spots along the way as long as you get there before another scout group does. Both times we’ve visited, we chose cooler months for two reasons: 1) to avoid larger crowds during the peak season and 2) because we think the hot pools gurgling right out of the ground make for a unique outing in colder weather. Lastly, I like how close it is to keep our driving costs down.
With that in mind, here are the things I don’t like about Diamond Fork from the perspective of a Scout leader. My least favorite thing to deal with is the language, drinking and lasciviousness late into the night. It’s almost like going to an R-rated movie! As the night carried on, I was hoping there would be no shenanigans from the constant flow of people coming and going along the trail until 2am. It only took us one time to see that Diamond Fork is much more “kid friendly” if you wait until morning…then you just about have the place to yourself for a few hours, much like our experience at Meadow Hot Springs.
That’s why I have mixed feelings about this destination. I think this could be a fun trip providing you find yourself in good company…and that is the risk you taking in going to Diamond Fork. On our first visit in May 2010, we naively dealt with the Friday night follies but had the place to ourselves on Saturday. For our visit last month, we purposefully avoided Friday night’s follies but then had to deal with with a male skinny-dipper in his 30s who was clearly looking for attention early that Saturday morning.
So I don’t know if I’m making a recommendation here or discouraging you from a potentially uncomfortable experience for a variety of probable reasons. Either way, here’s a map of the trail and an elevation profile to see if you think it’d be easy for your scouts.