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Donut Falls

Distance3.7 mi
Elevation Gain525 ft
My Time1 hr 46 min
Closest TownSalt Lake City
Food NearbyBandits Grill and Bar

Hiking Donut Falls

Donut Falls is a popular hike in the Big Cottonwood Canyon area near Salt Lake City, Utah. The falls have some challenges depending on what time of year you explore it so some hiking experience would be good. The name is a bit deceiving as it does not actually have any doughnuts at the falls.

Getting Started

There are a couple of parking options for Donut Falls depending on the season. There is a summer lot that is about a mile up the road but most people I saw were parking at the large pull of just off on Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd near the Mill D Fork Trailhead. From the main road there is a tenth of a mile walk down the road before the Donut Falls trail sign will be visible to the east side of the road. The trail will then run parallel to the road for about a mile but it is a much nicer walk than on the road.

Early Views from the Donut Falls Hike
Early Views from the Donut Falls Hike

The Early Views

I hiked this hike at the end of June and the water levels were high and there was still a bit of snow in some of the shadows. The late season melt led to some amazing green colors and high growth of all of the bushes and trees. The trail alternates between shade and sun for the first half mile before retreating into mostly shade for the second half mile. In the sun, the views of the surrounding mountains and tree covered hills are really amazing.

Trail Cutting through a lot of Green on the Donut Falls Hike.
Trail Cutting through a lot of Green on the Donut Falls Hike.

From the road to the summer lot, the trail has a consistent incline of between 5-10% grade. There are some short switchbacks and the trail is easy to follow with a bit of rocks on the trail but otherwise really easy to manage.

It is just under a mile from the road to the summer parking lot. This is where the trail splits into a trail on one side of the lot and service road on the other. Apparently, there was a sign that said we should all take the service road and that would have been a good idea. Myself and several other missed this sign and took the trail up towards the falls.

The Broken Trail

Taking the trail to the southeast of the parking lot was a bit of a mistake this early in the season. There were several trees down on the trail. Those were able to be climbed over but then I got to the creek. The creek was way over its banks and running really fast. Check out the video below for more on that!

Trees down and some washout on the Donut Falls Hike.
Trees down and some washout on the Donut Falls Hike.

It took a while to cross the flooded creek. A bridge was visible but under water so I had to rely on rocks and a downed tree and still got pretty wet. After finally crossing the water, the trail connects again with the service road. (which of course was completely dry and a much easier way up that I should have taken.) Once you make it to the service road it is only a third of a mile to the next big obstacle.

The Climb to Donut Falls

Only a few hundred feet from the falls is the most challenging part of the trail. The service road just sort of ends at a ten to twelve foot rock wall. There is a decent foot path down the rocks but you will need to be careful to find the right steps as nothing is marked. A rope is attached and can be held onto to make the descent a little easier and the rope really helps as you make your way back up the rocks on the return.

The Rope and Rock Wall near Donut Falls.
The Rope and Rock Wall near Donut Falls.

Once you make it down the rock wall, you will be on a narrow strip of dirt that leads to the falls viewing area. The high water flooded out this section and once again the option was to balance on rocks or get wet. Or, more likely, both. The water lasted about ten feet before the path continued its way to the falls.

High Water in the Donut Falls Canyon.
High Water in the Donut Falls Canyon.

Donut Falls

Donut Falls, which does not have any donuts, is more of a cascade through the canyon. It isn’t really tall but bounces back and forth against the canyon walls like a water slide. With the water levels really high it was hard to get too close but the power of the water was throwing spray through the canyon.

Donut Falls.
Donut Falls.

The narrow chasm of water spreads out as it hits the canyon floor and covers the entire base of the canyon. Flowing over rocks and around trees as it covers the ground like a carpet. This one wasn’t a tall fall but one that was full of power. The water flowed so freely after it left the confines of the narrow canyon it started in.

I really enjoyed the hike to Donut Falls. I also met some really nice people on the trail and we were able to enjoy the water of the late June day.

Video of Donut Falls

I have put this time-lapse video together of the Donut Falls so other hikers can get a feel of what the hike is like. If you enjoy this video make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel. It is free to subscribe and you will get the latest outdoor content.

Distance and Elevation

If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby. Plus, it gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 3.70 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 525 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 7,764 feet. I was also moving for a total of 1 hour and 46 minutes.

I am a Pro member of Alltrails and love it. If you are interested in the platform, please consider using my affiliate link for AllTrails. It gives me a small commission with no extra cost to you.


I made this hike much harder than it had to be. The water was really high and apparently I missed the signs advising hikers to take the forest road instead of the trail. The trail was washed out and I had to navigate over rocks and fallen logs above a few feet of running water to make it to the falls. The service road was much easier.

There is also a small section of scrambling to get down to the falls. There is a rope attached to the rock incline that made it much easier to handle. Because of the obstacles, I am going to rank this as a moderate hike.


Depending on when you go to Donut Falls, there is a chance that you will get a bit wet. The trail starts with a paved road and switches to a more narrow dirt path. There is then some more dirt through the woods before having a brief water crossing. After a bit of a scramble, the trail hugs the side of the river at the base of the falls. In the wet season, this means balancing on rocks or walking through the shallow sections of water to get to the base of the falls.

Access to Donut Falls

The main parking area for Donut Falls is located on S. Big Cottonwood Canyon Road near the Mill D Fork trailhead. There is room for about 30 cars at this spot and a pit toilet. There is another lot open in the summers that has room for about 10 cars and also has a pit toilet that is down the road and closer to the service road.

Wrapping up the Hike to Donut Falls

I really enjoyed my hike to Donut Falls. The surrounding area by Big Cottonwood Canyon is really nice. Big hills and mountains and green as far as the eye could see. It was really nice. As I got closer to the falls there was more tree cover but still a really enjoyable hike.

The trail after the summer lot was very hard to pass with downed trees and flooded bridges but the service road makes this trail much easier. The falls are also really enjoyable even though they don’t have a huge vertical drop. The power of the early summer water was impressive and awe-inspiring and this was a really enjoyable hike!

I have added this hike and all of my hikes to my interactive map page that you can find here. If you have a suggestion or comment you can email me at Or follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!

2 thoughts on “Donut Falls”

  1. I watched the video and thought it a beautiful place, but afraid I would have had to turn back at some of those downed trees and not sure I’m into fording the streams these days LOL You did a good job of getting around them!

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