The classic family hike in Big Cottonwood Canyon, the short climb up to Donut Falls is quite spectacular. The large cascading waterfall is especially beautiful, as is the general scenery that surrounds you throughout the entire hike.
Drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon Road (UT-190) for just under 17.7km, watching out for the large parking area with signs for the Jordan Pines camping area. There will be an ambiguous trailhead sign pointing to the right. Follow this sign past the Jordan Pine Group Site and onto a dirt road, which passes through private property before arriving at the small parking area for the trailhead. Park in the lot or along one side of the road leading up to it and find the trailhead behind the outhouse.
|When to do|
Spring through fall
Yes, in National Forest Wilderness
Out and back
Begin along the trail just behind the outhouse and quickly join up with the Mill D South Fork River. Approximately halfway up the trail, the path will cross over to the west side of the river as it continues to climb.
After crossing over the river, you will meet up with a double track dirt road. Make note of this crossing. On the way back it’s easy to miss. If you miss the turnoff, however, you can still make your way back to the trailhead by crossing the river along the private drive beside the trailhead (as shown on the map).
Finally, after another short bit of climbing, the trail will essential merge into the river. You will either have to wade or rock hop across this short section of river to get up to the viewpoint of the falls.
The staircase falls are a true stunner, and the steep-sided canyon that surrounds you will provide a beautiful ambiance. Sit a while and enjoy the atmosphere before making the return journey.
There are options for scrambling up either side of the falls to get a cooler view. Only do this if you are comfortable with the exposure.
This is the classic family hike near Salt Lake.
Bring shoes you don’t mind getting wet, and wear a pair of non-cotton socks.
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