Adams Falls

Layton / Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

About Adams Falls


Hiking Distance: 3.5-4 miles round trip with scrambling
Suggested Time: 2.5-3.5 hours

Date first visited: 2017-05-27
Date last visited: 2017-05-27

Waterfall Latitude: 41.06731
Waterfall Longitude: -111.88516

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Adams Falls (also known as Adams Canyon Falls) was an attractive 40ft rectangular waterfall that was a worthy reward for the adventure it took to get to it.

The underlying red cliffs also added more color to the overall scene, and its spray was refreshing after all the pretty hard hiking it took to get up here.

Adams_Falls_166_05272017 - Adams Falls or Adams Canyon Falls
Adams Falls or Adams Canyon Falls

As you can see from the photo above, I happened to experience this waterfall under some high water conditions.

About the Adams Falls Adventure

According to the locals that I’ve met, my Memorial Day Weekend visit in 2017 occurred in a year where the Wasatch Range received heavy snowfall throughout the Winter and Spring months.

So that created conditions that were ripe for a bit more scrambling and stream walking than what was typical.

As a result, this was definitely one of the more adventurous waterfalls that I pursued while waterfalling the Salt Lake City area during that long weekend.

Adams_Falls_078_05272017 - Lots of intermediate cascades on Holmes Creek as a result of high water conditions experienced on the hike to Adams Falls
Lots of intermediate cascades on Holmes Creek as a result of high water conditions experienced on the hike to Adams Falls

Indeed, it took me about 2 hours to get all the way to Adams Falls, and another 90 minutes to hike back to the trailhead.

According to my GPS logs, I had hiked about 4 miles round trip.

And even though it was indeed quite an adventurous hike, there were still many people that I encountered throughout the excursion (especially on the return hike), which attested to this place’s popularity.

Nevertheless, the difficulty score reflected that increased degree of difficulty as a result of the high water conditions.

Adams_Falls_247_05272017 - Looking over the northern fringes of the Great Salt Lake and parts of Layton from the Adams Falls Trail
Looking over the northern fringes of the Great Salt Lake and parts of Layton from the Adams Falls Trail

By the way, Adams Falls was named after Elias Adams who was an early settler of East Layton, which was the town from which this waterfall adventure began.

In addition to the waterfall itself and lots of intermediate cascades along the way, the hike also yielded views towards the Great Salt Lake.

Thus, I could totally understand why this was seemingly Layton’s most popular hike.

Adams Falls Trail Description – from the trailhead to Adams Canyon

The hike began from a pretty spacious unpaved lot though there was also parallel parking available on Eastside Road (see directions below).

Adams_Falls_020_05272017 - The switchbacks in the beginning of the Adams Falls hike was sandy and can be strenuous as a result
The switchbacks in the beginning of the Adams Falls hike was sandy and can be strenuous as a result

The trail initially followed some fencing preventing the public from accessing some kind of rectangular pond.

Then, the trail ascended a series of switchbacks with high wooden fences to prevent people from taking shortcuts.

There were several of these switchbacks (maybe a dozen or so wasn’t an exaggeration), where the trail gained some 500ft over a sandy surface.

Such a loose surface (especially on a slope) can sap a bit more energy than a normal packed dirt trail.

Adams_Falls_250_05272017 - After all the switchbacks in the beginning, the Adams Canyon Trail then entered Adams Canyon
After all the switchbacks in the beginning, the Adams Canyon Trail then entered Adams Canyon

Eventually, after a half-mile from the trailhead, the path joined up with the Adams Canyon Trail.

I kept right to approach the scenic Adams Canyon while also being able to look back at the views towards Layton and the Great Salt Lake.

Apparently, prior to joining up with the Adams Canyon Trail, there was an additional spur trail to the right near some rest benches.

That trail was said to lead to the Lower Adams Canyon Falls, but since I didn’t do that trail, I can’t say more about it.

Adams Falls Trail Description – hiking and scrambling in Adams Canyon

Adams_Falls_049_05272017 - Encountering a trail junction between the Adams Canyon Trail (left) and the Bonneville Shoreline Trail (right) during the Adams Falls hike
Encountering a trail junction between the Adams Canyon Trail (left) and the Bonneville Shoreline Trail (right) during the Adams Falls hike

As the trail entered Adams Canyon, there was a bit more tree cover as the path narrowed, which provided some welcome relief from the sun.

After about another quarter-mile from the junction, I reached a fork where the Bonneville Shoreline Trail descended towards a footbridge over North Holmes Creek on the right.

The left fork continued on the Adams Canyon Trail, which was the fork that I followed.

It now pretty much followed along the North Holmes Creek for the remainder of the hike.

Adams_Falls_059_05272017 - Context of an eroded part of the Adams Falls hike where I was on the left side of this creek and needed to continue straight along the embankment while trying not to get wet in North Holmes Creek
Context of an eroded part of the Adams Falls hike where I was on the left side of this creek and needed to continue straight along the embankment while trying not to get wet in North Holmes Creek

During this stretch, the path continued climbing while passing by some small intermediate cascades.

Parts of the trail appeared to have eroded quite a bit, which made this part of the hike seemingly more rugged.

I wasn’t sure if this was from years of wear and tear from the popularity of the trail or if a large chunk of earth got swept away from the higher water levels of Holmes Creek.

Whatever the case, there were moments where I had to quickly walk along sloped embankments with dropoffs.

Adams_Falls_084_05272017 - The Adams Falls Trail crossing a slanted wooden bridge roughtly 0.8 miles from the Bonneville Shoreline Trail junction
The Adams Falls Trail crossing a slanted wooden bridge roughtly 0.8 miles from the Bonneville Shoreline Trail junction

I also had to figure out how to walk on the sides of Holmes Creek itself without getting wet in the spots where there was no trail between the embankments and the creek.

At about 0.8 miles from the Bonneville Shoreline Trail junction, the trail crossed North Holmes Creek over a slanted wooden footbridge.

Just beyond this bridge, the trail became increasingly more rugged and steep as I often had to scramble hand over feet in the steepest sections.

There were also more attractive cascades that the trail meandered alongside, including one small waterfall where a large boulder formed a kind of “cave” or alcove with water running through it.

Adams_Falls_114_05272017 - Looking back over one of the attractive intermediate cascades with a large boulder forming kind of an alcove or 'cave' on the way up to Adams Falls
Looking back over one of the attractive intermediate cascades with a large boulder forming kind of an alcove or ‘cave’ on the way up to Adams Falls

Further upstream beyond this spot, the trail then went around a bend in the creek.

After this bend, I opted to hike into the creek itself on its far right side to avoid doing a pretty daring steep scramble further up the embankment (to avoid getting wet).

At about 0.2 miles from the footbridge over North Holmes Creek, I had to traverse a narrow rocky ledge before winding up in front of the most impressive intermediate cascade seen so far.

Adams Falls Trail Description – from the intermediate waterfall to the main waterfall

Aside from its photogenic quality as a legitimate standalone waterfall, I had to scramble on the trail alongside the cascade’s right side.

Adams_Falls_138_05272017 - This was perhaps the most impressive of the intermediate cascades on North Holmes Creek on the way to Adams Falls
This was perhaps the most impressive of the intermediate cascades on North Holmes Creek on the way to Adams Falls

This eventually brought me to the top of the attractive intermediate falls and beyond.

Then, the trail continued to get rougher as it hugged the right side of North Holmes Creek while involving some more steep climbs.

Eventually at about 2 miles from the trailhead, the trail then reached an unbridged crossing of North Holmes Creek.

This was pretty much before the Adams Falls, but it could not be seen without getting into the creek.

Adams_Falls_180_05272017 - Looking back at the last crossing of North Holmes Creek before Adams Falls
Looking back at the last crossing of North Holmes Creek before Adams Falls

During the time that I did this hike, the creek was running pretty high so inevitably, I had to get my feet wet as the water was easily ankle- to shin-deep.

I’ve also seen trip reports where at lower water levels, it was possible to easily cross North Holmes Creek without getting water inside Gore-tex hiking boots or even day hiking low-top shoes.

Nevertheless, once I made it to the other side of North Holmes Creek, that was when I could finally see Adams Falls in all its glory (just like in the photo at the top of this page).

When I showed up at about 9:30am, there was still enough of a morning shadow to take decent photos.

Adams_Falls_157_05272017 - Finally making it up to Adams Falls
Finally making it up to Adams Falls

However, this was a west-facing waterfall so afternoon provided the best lighting.

Of course, waiting until the afternoon to do this hike would mean the initial sandy switchbacked climb from the trailhead to the Adams Canyon Trail junction would be a brutally hot stretch.

And if you’re not acclimated to the altitude, it could make an already tough hike even tougher right off the bat.

So despite the tree cover for most of the remainder of the Adams Falls Trail once it entered Adams Canyon, it was still mostly uphill, further adding to the difficulty of the hike.

Adams_Falls_213_05272017 - After having my fill of Adams Falls, I still had to go back the way I came up and that meant having to deal with eroded sections and creek scrambles like this again
After having my fill of Adams Falls, I still had to go back the way I came up and that meant having to deal with eroded sections and creek scrambles like this again

That’s something to consider when partaking on this adventure and attempting to time it for the afternoon.

Overall, it took me just under 2 hours to get all the way up to the falls, but it took me around 90 minutes or less to return to the trailhead.

Authorities

Adams Falls resides near the city of Layton in Davis County, Utah. It is administered by the Davis County government. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Adams_Falls_001_05272017 - This was the fairly spacious unpaved parking area for the Adams Canyon Falls Hike when I got my early morning start
Adams_Falls_002_05272017 - Approaching the fence opening to go onto the hike to the Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_004_05272017 - Initially, the Adams Falls Trail passed along this fence before going towards the white fences up ahead, which were the sandy switchbacks that would be a pretty brutal climb had it not been for the cool morning shade
Adams_Falls_009_05272017 - Looking back over a reflective pond as I was climbing up the sandy switchbacks on the initial part of the Adams Falls hike
Adams_Falls_011_05272017 - Looking back towards the Adams Canyon Falls Parking Area as I was ascending the switchbacks
Adams_Falls_015_05272017 - Looking back over some suburban homes on the hike up to the Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_022_05272017 - Continuing to ascend the sandy Adams Canyon Trail while benefitting from the morning shade
Adams_Falls_024_05272017 - I climbed high enough along the Adams Canyon Trail at this point to face the morning sun while I still had some more switchbacks to climb up ahead
Adams_Falls_029_05272017 - Ascending another switchback on the initial climb during the Adams Falls hike
Adams_Falls_036_05272017 - After having ascended most of the switchbacks, I got this loftier view over some of the suburban homes of Layton while looking towards the Great Salt Lake in the distance
Adams_Falls_039_05272017 - Looking back at some early birds who were returning from the Adams Falls hike while I had just gotten onto the Adams Canyon Trail
Adams_Falls_048_05272017 - Entering the tree-covered sections from the confines of Adams Canyon as I continued to pursue the Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_055_05272017 - At a point of the Adams Falls Trail where the Adams Canyon Trail skirted the North Holmes Creek leaving very little width of the trail along the stream's banks
Adams_Falls_060_05272017 - This was one eroded part of the Adams Falls hike where people had set up deadfall logs to help keep the feet dry while clinging to the eroded embankments
Adams_Falls_061_05272017 - Looking back at the context of the eroded embankment parts of the Adams Falls hike and some tricky sections where I had to stand on deadfall logs to keep dry
Adams_Falls_072_05272017 - At this point in the Adams Falls hike, I got high enough to start noticing the interesting cliffs
Adams_Falls_087_05272017 - The Adams Falls hike continued to scramble alongside North Holmes Creek and its intermediate cascades, which made for a much more non-trivial hike than I had anticipated
Adams_Falls_089_05272017 - Another one of the intermediate cascades on North Holmes Creek seen during the hike to Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_096_05272017 - This interesting intermediate cascade on North Holmes Creek appeared to be split by a giant boulder that fell from a neighboring cliff
Adams_Falls_099_05272017 - Climbing steeply alongside this attractive cascade on North Holmes Creek en route to Adams Falls.  Note another hiker making a descent for some context
Adams_Falls_105_05272017 - Some other attractive intermediate cascade gushing between some big boulders on North Holmes Creek en route to the Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_108_05272017 - Another look at the intermediate cascade gushing between some big boulders on North Holmes Creek en route to the Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_113_05272017 - Looking back towards a cascade next to a boulder 'alcove' on North Holmes Creek as I was probably within a quarter-mile of Adams Falls by this point
Adams_Falls_119_05272017 - As the Adams Canyon Falls hike continued to climb, it also got rougher alongside North Holmes Creek.  Here, I decided to hike in the right side of the cascade while others were willing to slide down the steep and dicey embankment on the topright to avoid getting wet
Adams_Falls_121_05272017 - More stream scrambling on North Holmes Creek as I continued to make my way up to Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_130_05272017 - This was another section of steep hand-over-feet scrambling on the Adams Canyon Trail
Adams_Falls_140_05272017 - Checking out perhaps the most scenic of the intermediate cascades on North Holmes Creek on the way up to Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_141_05272017 - A pair of hikers scrambling above this cascade as part of the Adams Canyon Falls pursuit
Adams_Falls_147_05272017 - Context of some cliffs opposite the North Holmes Creek en route to the Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_149_05272017 - Continuing up the Adams Canyon Trail alongside North Holmes Creek
Adams_Falls_153_05272017 - Looking up at another cascade on North Holmes Creek as I was very close to the Adams Falls itself
Adams_Falls_154_05272017 - This was the crossing of North Holmes Creek that required getting wet, but it was also required to get a good look at Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_156_05272017 - Finally arriving at Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_161_05272017 - Looking back at someone else trying to get across the really wet crossing of North Holmes Creek right in front of Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_164_05272017 - Direct look up at the Adams Falls and its surrounding cliffs
Adams_Falls_167_05272017 - Looking back at some other people struggling with the crossing of a swollen Holmes Creek right in front of Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_173_05272017 - Another look at Adams Falls backed by attractive reddish brownish rocks before I started to make my move back to the trailhead
Adams_Falls_185_05272017 - This person thought he could find a different way across North Holmes Creek without getting wet around Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_190_05272017 - These folks made their return hike without much hesitation after having had their fill of Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_201_05272017 - This was a look at some of the rock scrambling that I had to make to get up to Adams Falls, but now I'm heading back
Adams_Falls_203_05272017 - Looking back at a couple checking out the real attractive intermediate cascade well downstream of Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_208_05272017 - Most of the return hike involved downwards scrambling though for a good chunk of the trail, I was able to use my downward momentum to do a little trail running on the way back from Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_211_05272017 - A steep descent on the scramble of North Holmes Creek on the return hike from Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_224_05272017 - Looking back at some other people continuing towards Adams Falls on a non-creek-scramble part of the Adams Falls hike
Adams_Falls_225_05272017 - On the way back down, I encountered many other hikers dealing with the steep and eroded part of the Adams Falls hike
Adams_Falls_227_05272017 - Looking back at some people also making their way back along the eroded parts of the Adams Falls hike within Adams Canyon
Adams_Falls_229_05272017 - Looking back at some folks trying to avoid getting wet at another one of the eroded sections of the Adams Canyon Trail
Adams_Falls_232_05272017 - Looking back at the tree cover within Adams Canyon, which provided some partial shade and temporary relief from the sun though it was now doing me no good on the return hike to the trailhead
Adams_Falls_238_05272017 - When I left Adams Canyon on the return hike from Adams Falls, I managed to get very attractive views in the direction of Antelope Island and the Great Salt Lake
Adams_Falls_239_05272017 - Looking back at a pair of ladies starting their hike into Adams Canyon en route to Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_241_05272017 - Context of the Adams Canyon Trail and the views on the return hike
Adams_Falls_249_05272017 - Looking back at other hikers making their way into Adams Canyon while I was heading back from Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_255_05272017 - Starting the final descent to the trailhead parking for Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_256_05272017 - One of the spur paths not far from this bench branched to the left towards the Lower Adams Canyon Falls
Adams_Falls_261_05272017 - Descending along the fenced switchbacks en route to the trailhead for Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_262_05272017 - The end of the hike was near as I could see the parking area, Eastside Drive, and the US89 along with the Great Salt Lake way in the distance
Adams_Falls_264_05272017 - Returning to the parking lot for the Adams Falls Trailhead
Adams_Falls_265_05272017 - When I returned to the trailhead for Adams Falls, I was amazed at just how many cars were parked here, especially parallel parking along Eastside Drive

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To reach Adams Falls from downtown Salt Lake City, I drove north on the I-15 for about 16 miles before leaving the interstate to go onto Hwy 89.

Then, I drove about another 6 miles along Hwy 89 before turning right onto a short access road leading to Eastside Drive.

Adams_Falls_267_05272017 - Looking across the Hwy 89 from the intersection of Hwy 89 and Oak Hills Drive where there was a water tank that could act as a good landmark before the turn onto Eastside Drive
Looking across the Hwy 89 from the intersection of Hwy 89 and Oak Hills Drive where there was a water tank that could act as a good landmark before the turn onto Eastside Drive

Note that there were stop signs on this road though Hwy 89 kept moving at high speed as it didn’t have one here.

This was the first right turn after the traffic light at the intersection of Hwy 89 and Oak Hills Drive.

There was also a water tank on the northwest corner of this intersection, which could be another telltale landmark when looking for the Adams Canyon Falls Trailhead.

Once I made another right onto Eastside Drive, I then drove the remaining 0.4 miles to the Adams Falls Trailhead on the left.

Adams_Falls_268_05272017 - The unpaved trailhead parking lot for the Adams Falls Trail
The unpaved trailhead parking lot for the Adams Falls Trail

While the unpaved parking lot was fairly spacious, when I showed up at 7:45am, there were already dozens of cars here.

When I returned to the trailhead shortly after 11pm on a Saturday, Eastside Drive was full of cars parallel parking both north and south of the formal trailhead parking.

This attested to how popular this hike was.

In any case, this drive from downtown Salt Lake City took me about 30 minutes.

Adams_Falls_266_05272017 - Looking down Eastside Drive where lots of people had parallel parked along this street, which attested to how popular this the Adams Falls Trail was despite how hard it was
Looking down Eastside Drive where lots of people had parallel parked along this street, which attested to how popular this the Adams Falls Trail was despite how hard it was

To give you some overall context, Salt Lake City was about 302 miles (over 4 hours drive) north of St George, 234 miles (over 3.5 hours drive) northwest of Moab, 215 miles (3 hours drive) south of Idaho Falls, Idaho, 421 miles (over 5.5 hours drive) north of Las Vegas, Nevada, and 688 miles (over 9.5 hours drive) north of Los Angeles, California.


360 degree sweep from right in front of Adams Falls revealing some people crossing the swollen creek a few times to give you an idea of how wet the feet become

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Tagged with: layton, adams canyon, bonneville shoreline trail, antelope island, great salt lake, salt lake city, us 89, davis county, utah, waterfall



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