1 - 2
FATMAP difficulty grade
Thanks to its easy access right off the pavement and the unique waterfall feature, Donut Falls is one of the most popular hikes in Big Cottonwood Canyon. While there is a small trailhead closer to the waterfalls, due to the popularity of this hike, it's difficult to get a parking spot there, so the route mapped here begins from a larger trailhead located on the shoulder of the highway.
If departing from the highway, you'll hike a short distance on the paved side road before turning left onto a trail. The trail begins as a smooth dirt track with minimal climbing as it weaves through the aspen trees near the Jordan Pines Campground.
After passing the campground, the trail gets a bit rougher and a bit steeper, but it's still easily passable.
After a section of sidehill traversing, the trail passes the upper trailhead, where you might be able to score a parking spot if you're lucky.
But hasn't the hike so far been simply gorgeous?! You would have missed out on that beautiful section if you had opted for the higher parking lot. From the higher parking lot, the trail is older, wider, and more eroded.
It consists largely of wide doubletrack for the rest of its length, and the climb gets a bit steeper from here.
That said, the climb is still quite moderate, and this hike only receives a Moderate FATMAP difficulty rating. Once at the canyon, you'll have to negotiate a scramble down a rock to reach the base of the falls, but it's a short drop.
Once at the falls, enjoy the beautiful, narrow mountain canyon! You'll note the signs warning that climbing close to the falls could prove deadly, but undoubtedly you'll see people disregarding those signs.
That choice is up to you, but it would dramatically increase the technical difficulty of this hike.
Due to the slickness of some of the rocks from the water mist, it's probably best to just enjoy the vista from the lower viewpoint, then return to your car via the same route.