Waterfalls of the Wasatch- Introduction
Utah is one of the best states in the country to visit beautiful waterfalls. Utah has waterfalls in both quantity and quality. Other states may have more, or a few finer waterfalls not to be topped, but in Utah you can see a lot of superb falls. As waterfalls are vastly popular, that is a fact people ought to know. Many of course do know this, but even for those who do, knowing where to begin and which waterfalls to prioritize is something different than knowing of them. I am attempting to make this page be a one-stop "shop" for your Wasatch Range Waterfall needs.
Each waterfall will have a "When to Visit", which tells you when you CAN reasonably and safely get to this waterfall, and a "Best Time to Visit", which tells you when I think it would be worth getting to the waterfall, and when it will be most beautiful (in an average year).I still have not visited a few of these falls, but I do see one update by another user. Thanks! I cleaned the page up a little and added a few updates and corrections of my own, where applicable. I am going to seek out new waterfalls and destinations in early 2014 so may have some more off-grid secrets to add here then.
Waterfall Canyon Falls
I have not hiked to this one and so can't add much in the way of commentary to it. The waterfall is 200 feet in height. Should be one you can hike to in any season.
However this is taken from localhikes.com regarding this waterfall:
Trailhead: There are multiple trail heads in the area. The most common is at the top of 29th street. There is a parking lot, and the trail head is clearly marked. There are other trails in the area, but if you stay on the upper trail, it will take you to the waterfall trail. If you stay on the trail's by the river, it will take you right to it.
The other common trail head is on the south side of Mt. Ogden park. There is also clearly marked trail heads from this location. If you look on the side of the mountain, you will see two copper/rust colored water tanks. The trail to the waterfall is about 40-50 yards above the tanks. (Lat:41.12014 Lon:-111.55184)
Wheeler Canyon Falls
The waterfall is on the stretch of the Wheeler Canyon Trail that Icebox Canyon parallels however, as a heads-up. If you are driving up to Ogden to do this hike you might as well stop in to see this little fall, impressive in winter, as shown below. You have to climb down into the creek to really admire it. This will take less than 1 minute.
Access: Art Nord Trailhead, or Wheeler Canyon Trailhead
Summit Post Page for the Art Nord Trailhead
External Page for the Wheeler Canyon Trailhead
When to Visit: All year
Best to Visit: Winter- after a snow ideally
This hike is theoretically accessible to those with disabilities, if you have someone willing to help you along a nearly-flat old dirt road with plenty of rocks and pebbles and potholes. The waterfall itself would not be accessible.
Davis CountyThis hiking area is often overlooked. There are some great trails, and a couple wonderful waterfalls.
Adams Canyon Falls
The Upper Waterfall is one of Utah's finest. I go up there at least once each year. The hike is 3 easy miles and the payoff is great. Potential for scrambling, climbing, and canyonyeering beyond the falls are high. You could go all the way to the long flat mountain ridge beyond and then descend on any of a number of other trails, such as the Frances Peak Road.
When to Visit: All Year
Best to Visit: All Year
One note for winter is that there is a short exposed section and things will be icy. So taking children is not the best idea.
Not accessible. Beware of the parking lot. Hide all valuables and try not to make eye contact with the wannabe-gangbangers making drug deals from their cars. Sure, they are probably just high school dweebs who are no threat to you, passing ounces of weed back and forth, like most of Davis County's "toughs", but you never know.
Summit Post page for Adams Canyon
The actual falls require some skill to reach. You can take a loose and sheer trip-hazard trail down through trees for about 100 vertical feet or have a fun low 5th class scramble/climb. I always go with that route, but a climber friend I took wouldn't try it without rope. There are the two options.
This is a rare waterfall which is better to visit late in the season. The Farmington Canyon Road is not opened until mid to late summer, and hiking from Farmington Ponds would be stupid. You'd spend all day doing it on a steep ugly drunk ATVers frequent (yes even with the closed gate). Also, the falls are prettier with smaller water flow.
When to visit: Summer, Fall
Best to visit: Fall
Summit Post page for Farmington Canyon Road
This waterfall is definitely not accessible. You do not need a 4 Wheel Drive vehicle, but if you have one, take it.
Holbrook Canyon Falls
This is one of Utah's finest hikes for autumn colors. Camping and fishing opportunities also abound. And best of all, its very infrequently visited. There is even a small waterfall 2 miles up the canyon. The falls are not a destination of their own, but offer a good spot to turn around on a great hike. The trail is rather ugly in spring and summer, I think.
When to visit: All year
Best to visit: Autumn or winter
For directions, look up the Bountiful LDS Temple. Follow those directions, but park on the East side of the street, across from the Temple in the Canyon parking lot.
The Central Wasatch
Rocky Mouth Canyon Falls
There is a parking lot along Wasatch Blvd, not well marked. It is near 11300 S. Take the wooden steps up, follow the neighborhood street to the black iron gate. From there you have more wooden steps to go up for a mere 1/4 mile.
When to visit: Sort of all year, if you have the moxy
Best to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall
Bells Canyon Waterfalls
The Upper Waterfall is best viewed before crossing the creek on the bridge (if it is there), and the area is shady and will be cold, even on hot days. I advise carrying a warm layer. However, if you cross the creek, there is some fun low 5th class climbing and 4th class granite scrambling right to the side of the waterfall. This is fun stuff, and can be done without rope, though most would want to rope up. If you are going up the canyon to climb granite towers anyhow, take in the waterfalls as a bonus.
Bell's Canyon is a great canyon, and does lead to a reservoir on the "backside" of Lone Peak, or between Lone Peak and the Thunder Mountains, and so is a seemingly desirable route to take to access those peaks, as well as fabulous Bighorn Peak, also known as Upper Bell's Peak. This is not really so anymore though as avalanches have bulldozed the canyon a 1/4 mile beyond the bridge crossing near the Upper Falls. Yes you COULD still go to the Reservoir with a heavy pack and camp up there for several days, but route-finding up and down would be nasty and slow. You'll be climbing over big logs. You could go up Bell's and then down the Sawmill Trail to the same city park I mentioned in the Rocky Mouth Canyon escape story above, but that has little to do with waterfalls.
***UPDATE: I read an article recently by a member of the Wasatch Mountain Club stating that in late 2012 the old trail was dug/cut out and cleared and marked by the Club and Forest Service rangers, and that it is now passable again- at least until the next huge avalanche. I have not tested the veracity of this yet.***
When to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall
Best to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall
These falls are not accessible. They could be approached in winter, but the waterfalls will not be there. Not only will they not be icefalls, they won't be flowing or showing. You will simply see piles of snow. And those piles of snow will look much like the piles of snow you hiked miles through to get there.
There are several trailhead options. The easiest to provide directions to is at the very beginning of the road into Little Cottonwood Canyon. On the right side (South) there is a small parking lot with a pair of vault toilets. From there follow the only trail to the lake, then head uphill at the lake and watch for a sign on the left forking away from the old Jeep road. Around 2 miles to the lower falls, and a little under 3 to the upper.
Everyone and their brother and their brother's four obnoxious nose-picking children has been to Doughnut Falls, but don't let that stop you. Avoid it on weekends, and in the middle of summer, and you'll be fine. In late summer or autumn, the water level in the cave will be low enough to easily enter in and take nice pictures. Thanks in advance for not writing on the walls if you do so.
To go into the cave you will have to be comfortable climbing a 12 foot low 5th class wall, take someone who is comfortable doing so to spot you, or be comfortable scrambling up wet rocks right up the center of the creek. Again, in late summer or autumn, these rocks will be less wet or not wet. You'll do a lot less leg-breaking that way, and rangers won't be there to yell at and or ticket you for doing so. (They will be there on weekends all summer, (so I have been told) and so will the obnoxious nose-picking children.)
There is a short trail to the left of the falls and creek which you can scramble up to look down on the falls from 50 feet above. This is hardly as impressive as it sounds though!
In winter, this fall is a potential ski destination. You would need to park at the Spruces Campground and then ski (or snowshoe) the closed access road (adding about 1 mile). If you do this, remember not to be stupid. I know a certain friend of a friend who went on a 35 degree F day and thought, "hey why not walk the ice bridge that forms here in crampons?" He has a steel rod in his leg now. My friend was angry with me for saying that her friend was stupid, but her friend with the rod in his leg then corrected her and said, "No he's right. I was stupid." So there you go. Water freezes at 32 F and ice is unstable anywhere near that temperature! So don't be stupid if you go in winter. I expect for most of winter the actual waterfall that goes through the "doughnut" hole into the cave will be buried in snow anyway, so the splendid icefall will be invisible for all intents and purposes, unless you bring a really big shovel and have more energy and pep than I do.
When to visit: Year round, potentially
Best to visit: Late summer, or autumn
Drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon Road for 9 miles. There is an access road on the right just before the Spruces Campground which is about 1/4 or 1/2 mile to a parking lot. Closed in winter.
These falls are not accessible.
Ferguson Canyon Falls
When to visit: Year round
Best to visit: Year round
External page link with climbing routes for Ferguson Canyon
Mill B Fall
This is a cute little waterfall that lies along a paved, but steep path, making it great to take the kids or your disabled relative or friend to. A power wheelchair would be required unless you have someone sturdy to push you uphill and who you trust not to let go on the way back to the parking area. Seriously, the slope is gentle for walking but on wheels is enough that you need to be sure the breaks work.
Drive to Mill B South Parking lot, 5.4 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon Road and then take the paved trail to the Left/East towards Lake Blanche. The walk is less than 1/4 mile.
There are beautiful fall colors here- and the whole way to Lake Blanche- though the pavement does not go to the lake.
When to go: Year Round (not disabled-accessible in winter)
Best to visit: Fall
Bridal Veil Falls
This is the most famous and frequently visited waterfall in the whole Wasatch Range, I am certain. You've seen it, even if you don't know you have seen it. Accessed by Provo River Parkway, a fine bike path well-paved, you will have company any time of year but certain cold winter days. That is okay. Don't go looking for adventure, but take a disabled friend or relative to give them a treat.
Start at Nunn's Park for a 1/2 mile hike or start at Vivian's Park for a 2 mile trip. In winter, after a good snow, I love this trail as a cross-country ski. People do ice climb this waterfall, or so I hear, though I wonder how it ever freezes solid enough to do so. Nearby Cascade Falls is a better ice climb option.
When to visit: All year
Best to visit: Winter
This waterfall is entirely accessible for the disabled, though only after snowfall has melted in winter.
These need to be scrambled up to. From Nunn's Park a short loose gully leads up to the cliffs where water freezes into fantastic icycles in winter. You will find climbers up there busy at their craft. All information is the same as for Bridal Veil Falls.
This magnificent two-tier waterfall seems to be something of a secret. It is on the land of Sundance Ski Resort, but is accessed from National Forest Land. Thus, to park, you do need to pay $6. That fee helps keep the area nice and means the parking lot is plowed even in winter, a nice perk. If the pay tubes are buried by snow, then you are off the hook. You could also pay for a day of nordic skiing at Sundance, or park at the resort in summer for free and take an alternate, and longer, route. Inquire at the Resort if trying this. They can provide you maps and better directions, since they are paid to do so.
Drive to the Aspen Grove Trailhead parking area for Mount Timpanogos. The trail will leave the parking lot going South, will travel East at a fork for a short stretch and then take you mostly south again for a little over 2 miles total. The trail is an ugly traverse of some unimpressive hills. Just bear with it.
In winter, you may need to break trail with snowshoes. But this is the best time to go as the top level of the falls freeze and the lower cascade stays flowing so you get marvelous photography. Its a cold place for a lunch, but I suggest staying a while. If you can get there by or around sunrise, I think you would have the best lighting to capture this wonderful falls.
When to visit: All year
Best to visit: Winter
Very not accessible for the disabled. I mention this because the edition of 60 Hikes within 60 Miles of Salt Lake City which I have claims this area has a pavement trail (to a different waterfall nearby). That is not at all true. My friend in a wheelchair was disappointed when we drove down and found impassable rocks immediately. I was more annoyed.
Battle Creek Falls
I have not visited this one yet.
Here is a link to Utah.com with the basic information.
Silver Lake Falls
This is a long narrow tall waterfall about 1/4 mile off trail on the way to Silver Lake from Silver Lake Flats. You would need to bushwhack and route-find to go out to it. Might be worth the time if you are gung-ho for waterfalls. Distance on trail is around 2 miles, distance by bushwhack would be somewhere between 1/2 mile and 1 mile.
A 4 Wheel Drive would be best to drive to Silver Lake Flats, but I have done it in a Toyota Camry. Not disabled-accessible.
Mount Timpanogos Falls
Scout Falls is accessed via the Timponooke Trail and you can walk right up to it off a little fork option. There are a few you will come across along the Primrose Cirque Trail. I do not have any impressive pictures to offer at this time. Either of these options will require 2.5-3 miles at least each way. Plan on half a day. Parking for Primrose Cirque is the same as for Stewart Falls. For the Timponogos Campground you will need to drive the Aspen Loop
Highway, which I think costs $6 by itself, though that covers you to park for the day.
Wide Hollow Falls
There are indeed 5 very infrequently-visited waterfalls in seldom-visited Wide Hollow on the East side of Box Elder Peak. I know this from first-hand experience because I came up with the bright idea of creating my own shortcut down from the summit of Box Elder Peak one fine day. A few of these falls are pretty, but due to location, I suggest not visiting them. If you try, have rope and an experienced team with plenty of fortitude. For more details see my Route for this trip named "Ahab in Acid" under my profile.
When to visit: Never
Best to visit: Don't. Unless you love suffering or think I am making this up and am saving the best waterfall in Utah all for myself.
Explosively not accessible, even for most hikers and canyoneers.
Mount Nebo Loop Area Falls
When to visit: Spring, Summer, Fall, or Never
Best to visit: Never
Not accessible except for hearty hikers.