One of the first hikes that we tried at a family was Donut Falls. We have hiked this trail in summer and fall, and we love visiting this waterfall every time. Big Cottonwood Canyon is one of our favorite spots in Utah, and Donut Falls is a fun, family-friendly hike.
The reason for the name Donut Falls is because the waterfall comes out of a round hole. This hike is easy and beautiful. You hike through the forest, past some meadows, and next to the stream that comes down from the waterfall. We did this hike for the first time when we had a 2 month old and a 3 year old, and everyone loved it.
- Distance: 1.5 miles roundtrip (could be 3.0 miles if you park by main road)
- Elevation gain: 308 feet
- Dog-friendly: No
- Fee: No
The hike begins from the parking area near an information sign and heads up the mountain. There are signs to keep you headed the correct way. The trail is rocky and has many tree roots, so watch your step on this hike. We love this trail for the shaded trees and the bridge that crosses the small stream.
The hardest part of the trail is climbing down the slick rocks to the stream. So many people have hiked here, that the rocks are very slippery, so be careful as you head down toward the water. Then hike up the stream toward the waterfall.
When you arrive at the falls, you can wade into the water and cross the stream to get a better view of the waterfall. In order to see the actual donut hole, you have to scramble over some rocks, which we chose not to do and it is highly discouraged with signs. Many people will scramble up to look, but please know that falling is a definite risk and we do not encourage it. We enjoyed the waterfall just from below. The hike is 1.5 miles round trip with only a slight elevation gain.
Take the exit that says Big Cottonwood Canyon off of the 215. Follow the signs to Big Cottonwood Canyon. Follow the canyon road for 9 miles–you will need to watch your odometer because there isn’t a sign. At 9 miles, take the turn-off to the right and follow to the trailhead one mile further, past the Jordan Pines picnic area and some private property. The trailhead is at the south end of the parking area next to an information board.
If the parking lot is full, please park out in the larger parking lot on the main Big Cottonwood Canyon road. This will add about 2.0 miles to your hike, so our recommendation is to hike at off times like early morning on weekdays. Or in the fall.