Family-Friendly Hikes in Big Cottonwood Canyon

Big Cottonwood Canyon is one of our favorite places along the Wasatch Front. On hot summer days it is generally 10-15 degrees cooler up the canyon than in the valley. We’ve found a lot of great hikes and we’ve gathered them all in this post. All of these hikes have been done with our family, so we know that your family can do them, too!  

Big Cottonwood Canyon does not have an admission fee and the canyon road is paved the entire way so all vehicles are welcome. Just driving through the canyon is worth a visit even if you don’t get out and hike. We love all of the family-friendly hikes that are available in they canyon. If you venture to Big Cottonwood Canyon, you might run into us! It is our favorite canyon to visit in the summer.

Big Cottonwood Canyon is beautiful!

This post has a list of our favorite things to do in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Just click the title to go to a complete write-up including pictures and directions to each adventure. And we also have a list of great family hikes in Little Cottonwood Canyon (Big Cottonwood’s neighbor). Don’t forget that Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon’s are in the watershed, so no dogs are allowed.

Big Cottonwood is a beautiful place.

Ledgemere Cave

You don’t have to hike to get to the Ledgemere Cave. It runs back about 75 yards into complete darkness, so remember to take a light source. This small walk is near the mouth of the canyon.

Ledgemere Cave

Hidden Falls

It’s difficult to even call this one a hike as it is less that a quarter mile round trip. It leads to a beautiful waterfall that small children will love. This one is great even for infants. Hidden Falls is located at the big-S curve.

Hidden Falls is a great hike any time of year.

Mill B South Interpretive Trail

This walk is very short and stroller or wheelchair friendly the entire way. Though it climbs uphill to the small waterfall, it is only three-quarters of a mile roundtrip. Pair this with Hidden Falls since they are in the same area on the big S curve.

Mill B South

Willow Heights Lake

This trail is steep and shady and extends for about 1 mile (2 miles round trip) to a pretty little lake. We saw ducks on the lake and we were able to walk around the lake in the cool mountain air. This is a great one for Fall when the aspens turn yellow. It is also beautiful in late June with wildflowers.

Willow Heights Lake--gorgeous!
Willow Heights Lake–gorgeous!

Donut Falls

Donut Falls is very well known, and we would never try it on a weekend. If you do, you’ll be tripping over other hikers the entire way. The falls is beautiful, but be careful as people have been seriously injured in their attempts to scale the falls. If you can hike off season, you can park close to the trailhead, otherwise you’ll park on the main canyon road and this adds quite a bit of distance.

Donut Falls
Donut Falls

Stairs Gulch

This hike is wonderful in the fall. It’s fairly flat and follows a chuckling little stream as it cascades down to the canyon bottom. Our boys loved seeing the tiny waterfalls and you can hike out as far as you want and turn around.

Stairs Gulch is a little less busy than other hikes in Big Cottonwood.

Silver Lake

This is probably our favorite hike in Big Cottonwood Canyon. There is a boardwalk around the lake that is stroller friendly. We’ve seen animals on this trip every time, including a moose on more than one occasion. Silver Lake is located at the top of the canyon near the Nordic Center. Make sure to go inside if it’s open and check out the displays.

Silver Lake is one of our favorite hikes in Utah.

Lake Solitude

This hike begins on the far side of Silver Lake, and extends the hike to 3.0 miles round trip. Lake Solitude is less traveled than the fairly busy Silver Lake trail, and is perfect for families who are ready to push their hikes a little longer. You can also hike to this lake from the Solitude Scenic Chair Lift, which is another fun adventure in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Dog Lake (the little one)

This hike is a steep hike that begins at the Majestic ski run at Brighton. A short, steep climb to the lake is beautiful and this trail is really the beginning of a longer hike that leads to other lakes. But you could just hike the 1.0 mile roundtrip to Dog Lake if you were looking for a shorter trail. We recommend continuing on if you can!

Dog Lake
Dog Lake

Lake Mary and Martha

These lakes share a trailhead with Dog Lake (see above) so you can do all three in one day. These two alpine lakes are gorgeous, and you get three for the price of one.

Overlooking Lake Mary
Overlooking Lake Mary

Bloods Lake

This trail is technically on the other side of Big Cottonwood Canyon through Guardsman Pass toward Park City, but it is not too far from Silver Lake. This trail is very popular, and it is a moderate climb up to the lake. Bloods Lake is a pretty lake in the canyon.SaveSave

Bloods Lake is a lovely lake.

Leave a Reply

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Harley

    Thank you for your adventures. I am physically unable to be with you however, with each, I share them with you. I have learned so much‼️ Please be blessed, be happy, be safe.
    Thank you,
    H arley😊

  2. Kelly Kline

    LOVE your detailed descriptions! This gets me excited for a summer of fun with my little grandkids. I appreciate you sharing things from super easy to difficult. It helps the whole family find something fun to do so close to home.