A Winter Waterfall Walk to Donut Falls

It’s never too snowy to check out a waterfall – and when it’s 60 degrees and sunny in Salt Lake City, it’s hiking time.

While sipping a cup of coffee, I starred out the window of my new duplex apartment at the Wasatch Mountains topped with white peaks and blue skies.Winter surprised me in December when I moved; the streets and sky remained socked in and I couldn’t get out to get the know the trails and city. But the thaw began this week. I can see the grass in my backyard for the first time since I carried in the couch.

Cottonwood CreekFor my first hike in the area, my boyfriend Jon and I decided to head out to a popular trail in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Hidden in a cave and up a creek, Donut Falls punches a pop of dramatic beauty with an ease of access that makes it a family-friend 3.5-mile out and back hike.

Even though the snow had started to melt, we carried our snowshoes. Walking the paved road, we made out way to the trailhead from the winter lot. Eventually the trail moved up and into the woods. In the snow, the trail was heavily packed from foot traffic, but for extra traction we went ahead and put on our snowshoes for the rest of the hike.

Most of the winter walk meandered through the woods. Finally it connected with Cottonwood Creek and climbed up a narrow shoot. This bit was slick – a sledding trail could even be seen down the center from days of kids and hikers making the climb up and down.

At the top, a small hole appeared in the snow and the roar of water could be heard echoing. Climbing into the cave, a magical waterfall appeared from a hole in the roof. For once in my life, I hadn’t researched the hike before departing and I was struck by its beauty. Here in the middle of a canyon, it the middle of the rocky mountain west, a rushing waterfall made me feel like I was back at home in Oregon.

Donut Falls

Getting there: Drive 9 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon to the signed Mill D Trailhead. In the winter, park in this lot and walk up the road to the trailhead. In the summer, you can drive a littler further up the road.



Published by Kelsey Ivey

An avid traveler and hiker, Kelsey is a freelance writer and professional explorer.

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