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Donut Falls

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Donut Falls is a popular trail for up Big Cottonwood Canyon. It’s fairly easy, partially shaded and the kids get to play in the water. The downside is that if you go on a holiday or weekend the crowds will also be there.  Most of the times I have gone early in the day on a weekday so we only see a handful of other hikers.  During the winter you have to walk from the road at the North Fork Mill D lot.

You can still choose to walk from the Mill D Parking Lot. They built a nice boardwalk so you don’t even have to walk on the road.

To take the boardwalk, pass by the restrooms and you’ll see a sign.

This is a lovely way to walk, even if you don’t plan to hike all the way to Donut Falls.

During the summer and fall you can drive to the closer parking lot.  The majority of this trail is mostly of a flat walk. There are some roots and rocks along the trail though, so watch your step.  

It is a very pretty trail in all seasons.

Partway through you cross a bridge. When crossing the bridge you can get a pretty look at the river farther downstream from Donut Falls.

It seems like every time I hike this I end up with a butterfly photo and there are chipmunks and other small wildlife. I love seeing Steller’s Jays!

The trail gets a tiny bit challenging right at the end.  These rocks need to be scaled down (and back up on the return). 

It is easiest if you have shoes that can get wet so that you can just walk in the river at this point.  You can jump around from rock to rock though possibly, but I’m not sure it’s worth it.  The water is freezing, but it isn’t deep and you will probably get wet eventually anyway if the water is high (like in the summer).

The waterfalls are pretty from a distance and the kids love to play in the water.  This makes a nice ending.

Now there is a sign advising not to climb.

You can’t really see the Donut part of the falls unless you climb up.  Several years ago there wasn’t the sign and I climbed up to into the cavern. It is slippery and there have been fatalities, so please be careful.  If you do chose to climb it, know that you will get wet and that the safest way is mostly up the middle. At the top you can see the falls, but as you get close you can see that it is falling into a little cavern. 

You just duck under and then the cavern is pretty big to get your photos.  The water is only up to your ankles, but it is super cold, so be prepared.

Below you can see a long exposure shot of the falls entering the cave.

This is what the falls look like from the inside.

This is actually an amazing winter hike with snowshoes or to hike with micro-spikes. Everything is so beautiful and peaceful covered in snow.  With microspikes and snow filling in the boulders, it’s actually must easier to climb into the cavern in winter.

You have to begin at the North Fork Mill D Parking lot right next to the main canyon road, so it does make it longer, but it’s lovely.

Stats: Distance – 1.5 miles round trip from parking lot above Jordan Pines Campground (3.5 from North Fork Mill D lot)
Approximate hiking time – 1-3 hours
Elevation gain – 280-531 feet
Difficulty – Easy (moderate at the end)
Trail – well maintained trail of dirt and rocks, walk in stream, slickrock bouldering to get close
Bathrooms – At Trailhead
Seasons to hike – Year Round (winter post)
Permits needed – None
Pets allowed – No

Other hikes nearby are Willow Lake Trail, Ledgemere Cave, Granite Flume Trail, and Silver Lake.


We have so much beauty in Utah to explore! I love hiking and photography and can help you find your next favorite hike! All photos were taken by me!

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