Donut Falls

It’s been so hot in the valley that hiking is difficult. I know summer (especially high summer) is temporary, but avoiding sunburns and heat exhaustion is priority right now, while still enjoying the varying landscape. This week we went up to Donut Falls in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Due to morning swim lessons, we went in the afternoon, but thanks to afternoon thunderstorms the temperature was excellent.

We got to the trailhead around 12:30pm. This hike is easy and short with lots and lots of tree coverage. My 3.5 year old didn’t complain once, which was great because I ended up piggy backing my 6.5 year old after his shoe broke. This hike gets packed especially on weekends, so be prepared.


Where: Big Cottonwood Canyon, SLC. About halfway up.

Grown up difficulty: easy

Five year old difficulty: easy, as long as you start close to the actual trailhead

Length and elevation: AllTrails says 3.3 miles round trip, 550 ft gain

To see: foliage, river, waterfall

Busyness: BUSY. So so so busy.



Big Cottonwood Canyon is one of our favorite canyons. We go year round for hiking and for sledding and snow shoeing. This trail starts right before the Jordan Pines campground. There is a gate on the south side of the road that closes during winter. When it’s closed, your hike will start there. When the gate is open, drive through and park at the trailhead or anywhere close that parking is allowed.

There are a couple of hills at the beginning of the hike, but otherwise it is fairly flat. We worked on our flower identification and saw cow parsnip, monkshood, bluebells, asters, and twin berries. On the way to the waterfall, some red peaked out of the green bushes and we found wild raspberries!

At the end of the hike, you have to climb down some rocks (maybe 15 ft worth) to get to the river. We all sat on our butts as the rocks were wet from rain, and no one got hurt. Be careful here with littles. Then you walk along the riverbank until the trail ends. Cross the river (this time of year it was shallow and quite cold) to the opposite side, where a white placard is posted. We let the kids snack and play in the water here and didn’t climb further.

Alpine squirrels and chipmunks are all over this trail and they get super close to hikers. We didn’t feed them, but they tried to get into our packs when we set them down at the river. They can chew threw fabric so be aware!

I’m not comfortable taking my kids to the top, especially since I have fallen in a waterfall before, but tons of people do. The pictures look really neat.


This is a great little hike when you can start at the trailhead. Shaded, lots of foliage to point out (go in July if you want to see more flowers!), and waterplay. We made it there and back in about 2 hours, including a lot of time playing at the destination.

Faves: wild raspberries, waterfall, river

Hardest: climbing down to the river

Gear: shoes that can get wet, snacks, water, sunscreen

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