Donut Falls is one of the most popular hikes in the Salt Lake area, and for good reason. In just 1.5 miles round trip, hikers are treated to a beautiful alpine forest before arriving at a breathtaking waterfall with a unique donut hole formation near the top. The well-marked trail is wide and easy to follow. A moderate elevation gain of about 280 feet over the 0.75-mile length makes this hike easy enough for hikers of all skill levels to complete. The final 100 yards involves hiking through a stream over slippery rocks and logs. Some hikers may prefer to view the falls from a distance to keep their feet dry and avoid this section.
The Donut Falls trailhead is located in Big Cottonwood Canyon, near the Jordan Pines group area:
- Take Exit 6 for 6200 S./Wasatch Blvd.
- Drive south on Wasatch Blvd. for 1.7 miles.
- Turn left onto Big Cottonwood Canyon Road.
- Continue up the canyon 9.7 miles.
- Turn right at the signed junction for Jordan Pines group area, just across the road from the Mill D North Fork trailhead.
- Continue 0.8 miles to the trailhead (40.639557, -111.651254).
A vault toilet and kiosk are located at the trailhead, but there is no signage indicating that this is the Donut Falls trailhead. Limited parking is available at the trailhead. Please observe no parking signs and respect local property owners. On busy weekends, it may be necessary to park near the highway, adding 1.6 miles to the round trip hiking distance.
From the parking area, begin hiking on the trail heading up the canyon. The trail is a little rocky, but is wide and easy to follow. Aspen and fir trees soar high above the trail, providing welcome shade on a hot summer day. Occasional trail markers indicate the correct route. After about a half mile, a wooden bridge crosses the stream and the trail turns left onto an old road.
Continue hiking to where the trail appears to end at a rocky outcropping next to the river. This is the only slightly difficult part of the hike. Proceed down the rocks to the trail that now follows the side of the river. Donut Falls is now visible in the distance. Continue hiking as far as you wish. Soon the trail enters the stream, and you may need to get your feet wet. There is a nice viewing area near the bottom of the falls. Look closely to spot the unique donut hole feature near the top of the falls.
While the hike to the base of Donut Falls is family-friendly, the falls themselves can be dangerous. It may be tempting to attempt to climb the surrounding cliffs and boulders to get a better view of the falls, but this is strongly discouraged.
Return to the trailhead the way you came. Round trip hiking distance is approximately 1.5 miles.
Rules and Regulations
- No dogs allowed.
- No swimming or wading.
- No camping within 200 feet of trails and water sources.
- No littering.
- No motorized vehicles.
It is not recommended to climb the rocks near the falls. Climbing near the falls has resulted in countless injuries and multiple fatalities over the years. The rocks and steep slopes near are often wet and slippery. Use extreme caution, and watch children closely.