Donut Falls Trail

Brighton, UT
Length: 3.00 mi.
Type: Out & Back

About This Trail

[Total: 4    Average: 5/5]

Donut Falls is a hugely popular trail in Big Cottonwood Canyon that boasts a really amazing waterfall. It’s called Donut Falls because the water falls through a hole in the top of a cave and I guess folks thought it looked like a donut. On the weekends, don’t be surprised to see a couple of families enjoying donuts somewhere near the falls!

From the trailhead, the hike is only 1.5 miles to the falls. But there are times when the trailhead parking lot is full or the gate from the main road is closed and you have to hike from there, which adds another 1.5 miles total.

The trail is a mix of climbing and descent as it meanders through the forest and crosses the creek. There’s lots of shade and many beautiful spots with beautiful views. It’s totally doable for folks of almost all ages.

The last hundred yards to get close to the falls and actually go inside the cave are very steep, essentially climbing over rocks IN the creek. In the summer, be prepared to wade in at least ankle-deep, icy water if you go into the cave too. Many families with kids don’t finish that tiny last bit. I won’t make that climb with a kid on my back, but it’s worth it to go inside the cave if a friend or family member can keep an eye on your kids. In the winter, it can actually be easier to climb up there on packed snow and I was able to do it with my 2yo on my back while my 6yo scrambled ahead of me. Because the snow was packed down, we just slid down on our butts.

This trail is fantastic in all four seasons. It’s popularity means the snow is almost always packed down and you don’t need snow shoes. Some extra traction like YakTrax or microspikes are recommended though, especially if it’s been warm enough to start melting the snow and then freezing still at night. In the spring, when snow is melting, it can leave ice on rocks too, so use caution.

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Trail Features

Surface type Dirt
Elevation gain 530 ft.
Stroller friendly No
ADA accessible No
Water fountains No
Bathrooms No
Cell reception Spotty
Pet friendly No
Nearby convenience store No
Camping Nearby No
Emergency support
within 5 miles

Trail highlights

Creek / River, Shaded Hike, Waterfall, and Wildlife Viewing

The creek is fun to play in and it’s really cold, year-round.

Climbing up close to the falls is very steep and the rocks can be slippery. Use extreme caution, especially if you have kids with you.

There are vault toilets at the trailhead. They are sometimes closed in the winter.

The gate to the trailhead is closed in the winter, so it will add 1.5 miles to your hike.

Big Cottonwood Canyon is a watershed canyon, so no dogs are allowed.

This trail is very popular, especially on weekends in the summer. Be prepared for crowds if you go then.

We’ve seen moose on this trail more than once.

Fee & Parking Details

Fee : $0.00

The trailhead parking lot is very small, so expect it to fill up quickly on weekends and holidays. Rangers are there frequently and won’t hesitate to cite cars parked along the road where it’s not allowed. There is a ton of parking at Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd, it just makes your hike longer overall.

Trail Contributor

[Total: 4    Average: 5/5]

Alex is an artist and graphic designer who runs her own little business from home while she’s momming it with her two school-aged boys. She’s a California native and transplant to the Salt Lake Valley where she’s completely fallen in love with living so close to the mountains. She loves hiking, camping, travel, soccer, photography and cooking. She geeks out over history, especially art history, loves getting lost in a great novel, and she started practicing taekwondo the year she turned 40. She’s also a Lifetime Girl Scout and she loves sharing her love for travel and the outdoors with her kids.


Trail Map

Getting There

From I-15, take the exit onto eastbound I-215/Belt Route. Take exit 6 onto UT-190 toward 3000 E from the second-to-righthand lane. Keep left and follow signs to 6200 S. Turn right onto UT-190/6200 S/Wasatch Blvd. Turn left onto UT-190/Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd. Continue for approximately 9 miles and then turn right onto FR019 toward the Jordan Pines Campground. If the gate is closed, it’ll be closed right at this turnoff and you’ll have to park in a spot close to the gate. If it’s open, then drive carefully down the private road to the trailhead.