Updated: Sep 15
Donut Falls in Utah is an easy, kid-friendly hike with one of the most unique and picturesque waterfalls in Utah. This is one you'll definitely want to add to your bucket list! The waterfall gets its name from the fact that the top of the waterfall actually descends into a cave through a donut-shaped hole before a second waterfall cascades down the mountain.
To get there, drive about 9 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon until you reach the parking lot at North Fork Trailhead. The Donut Falls trailhead is located about 0.8 miles from the main road. Once you pass the Jordan Pines campground, the road becomes a dirt road and you pass some private summer homes. The trailhead is very popular and the parking lot fills up easily, and if it does the only other place to park is back by the main road. So unless you don't mind adding another 1.6 miles to your hike, we recommend avoiding the weekend traffic.
The trail is officially rated as "easy" but be warned that if you have little kids, the end of the trail by the falls is not that easy. We hiked it with four kids ages 8 and under, including a toddler in a hiking backpack and we were fine. But once you reach the creek, you have to do a bit of scrambling down some very smooth, well-worn boulders to get to the water. Then you have to cross the water and there's no way to do it without getting wet. That part isn't that bad - just be careful with kiddos. From there, you'll be able to reach the base of the waterfall and see the "donut" from a distance. My 4-year old was disappointed that it wasn't actually a waterfall made of all the leftover donuts like I told her it was! She's seen Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs too many times, I guess.
The bucket list part of the hike is actually getting up inside the cave to see the donut up close, so I highly recommend doing that, if you're able. But this is the part of the hike I would say is not kid-friendly at all. It requires scrambling up some wet, slippery boulders to get to the top of the falls. And to get inside the cave, you have to wade through some knee-deep water that is very cold. I let. my kids go up about 1/3 of the way before I went the rest of the way solo.
Lucky for me, Brittany didn't mind being left behind with the kids and they had fun watching and waving at me from the base of the falls. But I loved being inside the cave and feeling the raw power of all that water pouring down through hole in the cave ceiling. It's a unique experience you don't get with other waterfalls, especially in Utah! This is one hike I'd highly recommend moving to the top of your list.
For more ideas on things to do in Utah, download our free Utah Bucket List.
Happy trails! 🤘🏻