Donut Falls

Salt Lake City / Big Cottonwood Canyon / Wasatch Front / Cardiff Fork, Utah, USA

About Donut Falls


Hiking Distance: 3.2-3.8 miles round trip; scramble to reach donut hole
Suggested Time: 2-3 hours

Date first visited: 2017-05-26
Date last visited: 2020-08-09

Waterfall Latitude: 40.62977
Waterfall Longitude: -111.65472

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Donut Falls (I’ve also seen it spelled Doughnut Falls) was so named because the Mill D South Fork Creek spilled into a pothole that someone imagined was shaped like a donut.

Beneath the donut was a natural bridge where the water continued cascading down a series of bouldery slopes to comprise the overall main drop of the waterfall.

Donut_Falls_155_08092020 - Donut Falls
Donut Falls

That made this one of those rare waterfalls where we got to witness that combination of a natural bridge and waterfall.

And for that reason alone, that made this place quite popular, especially considering how close it was to Salt Lake City.

Beneath the donut part of Donut Falls, Mill D South Fork Creek would continue cascading some more before reaching more flatter terrain well downstream.

Some of this cascading stretch was what I had to traverse before climbing up a jumble of boulders in order to get the view that you see pictured above.

Donut_Falls_084_05262017 - Donut Falls when the Mill D South Fork Creek was flowing quite heavily due to snowmelt during our first time visiting it on Memorial Day Weekend 2017
Donut Falls when the Mill D South Fork Creek was flowing quite heavily due to snowmelt during our first time visiting it on Memorial Day Weekend 2017

As for the waterfall itself, the donut part was towards the top of the cascade, and it was quite miniscule compared to the rest of its overall drop.

Speaking of which, I’d imagine that Donut Falls probably had a cumulative height of around 100ft.

Donut Falls Trail Description – walking to the official trailhead

We visited Donut Falls twice so far – once in late May 2017 and another time in mid-August 2020.

Each time we’ve hiked to this falls, we started from Cardiff Fork turnoff, which made the hike on the order of 3.2-3.8 miles round trip.

Donut_Falls_005_05262017 - On our first visit in Memorial Day Weekend 2017, the Cardiff Fork Road to the Mill D Parking Lot was closed so we had to walk this additional mile-long stretch to reach Donut Falls
On our first visit in Memorial Day Weekend 2017, the Cardiff Fork Road to the Mill D Parking Lot was closed so we had to walk this additional mile-long stretch to reach Donut Falls

Typically, if we only started hiking from the official Donut Falls Trailhead, then the overall hike should be only 1.6-1.8 miles round trip.

On our first visit during Memorial Day Weekend in May 2017, the gate was closed at the Cardiff Fork turnoff so we had to walk that road to the official trailhead.

This walk was on the order of 0.8-mile, and it only took us less than a half-hour.

On our second visit, which happened in mid-August 2020, the gate was open, but we still opted to do the walk from the Cardiff Fork turnoff.

Donut_Falls_036_08092020 - On our August 2020 visit to Donut Falls, we took a mostly-shaded trail that avoided the Cardiff Fork Road before descending to the official trailhead, but it did a few more twists and turns while having a bit more elevation gain and loss
On our August 2020 visit to Donut Falls, we took a mostly-shaded trail that avoided the Cardiff Fork Road before descending to the official trailhead, but it did a few more twists and turns while having a bit more elevation gain and loss

We figured that it might not be worth the trouble to compete for limited spots at the official trailhead.

So when we did this, we walked down the familiar road just under 0.2-mile before we encountered a signed trail that left the road and followed a narrower tree-shaded path.

The trail did a few more twists and turns than the straightforward Cardiff Fork Road so it was a little longer and narrower (which made it a little harder to socially distance).

However, it crossed a road leading to a campsite at one point before meandering through more tree cover and curves.

Donut_Falls_037_08092020 - Looking towards the Donut Falls Trailhead from the trail that avoided the Cardiff Fork
Looking towards the Donut Falls Trailhead from the trail that avoided the Cardiff Fork

Eventually after another 0.8-mile (or 1-mile from the Cardiff Fork), this trail descended upon the official Donut Falls Trailhead.

We never noticed this trail on our first visit, and we wondered if this was a newly-built trail.

I suspected that if this was the case, then it might have been motivated by the Cardiff Fork Community.

After all, it would make sense that they would want to alleviate trespassing concerns given the Cardiff Fork Road passed between residences.

Donut_Falls_043_08092020 - Looking back towards the official Donut Falls Trailhead
Looking back towards the official Donut Falls Trailhead

Add to that the Donut Falls’ popularity, then it also made sense to try to reduce the number of pedestrians walking the road as well.

In any case, despite the relatively easy walk to the Donut Falls Trailhead, we had to take it slow if we weren’t acclimated to the high elevation.

This was because the Cardiff Fork was nearly 7,300ft and the official trailhead was at nearly 7,500ft elevation.

Donut Falls Trail Description – hiking from the trailhead to the waterfall

Beyond the trailhead, where there was a little restroom as well as some signage, the Donut Falls Trail then resumed its ascent along a pretty wide dirt path.

Donut_Falls_279_08092020 - Context of the ascending Donut Falls Trail and the head of the parking lot and restroom facility at the trailhead
Context of the ascending Donut Falls Trail and the head of the parking lot and restroom facility at the trailhead

Apparently, there was also a separate path that crossed the Mill D South Fork and followed a track on the opposite side of the creek though we’ve never taken that path.

Anyways, there was a lot of tree cover, including some groves of the cottonwood trees that probably earned Big Cottonwood Canyon its name (so the Fall Colors here must be amazing).

In addition, there was still quite a few patches of snow flanking and crossing over the trail when we first did this hike back in late May 2017.

However, for the most part, the hiking was pretty straightforward though the high altitude made our hearts race and our lungs burn.

Donut_Falls_070_08092020 - Julie and Tahia approaching a footbridge over the Mill D South Fork Creek en route to Donut Falls
Julie and Tahia approaching a footbridge over the Mill D South Fork Creek en route to Donut Falls

At around a half-mile beyond the official trailhead (or 1.5 miles from the Big Cottonwood Canyon Road), we then crossed over a footbridge.

The trail then promptly intersected with a wider trail that continued south along the west side of the Mill D South Fork Stream.

I suspect that the other trail we didn’t take from the Donut Falls Trailhead would eventually arrive at this trail junction.

In any case, this intersection was noteworthy because it would be easy to miss on the return hike given how much narrower the trail to the bridge was compared to the larger trail paralleling the Mill D South Fork Stream’s west side.

Donut_Falls_083_08092020 - On our August 2020 visit to Donut Falls, there were a lot of people on the trail, which made for a bit of a social distancing challenge
On our August 2020 visit to Donut Falls, there were a lot of people on the trail, which made for a bit of a social distancing challenge

For the remaining 0.3 miles or so, we kept left at the forks and eventually scrambled down a short but steep embankment leading to the Mill D South Fork.

Since we didn’t pursue hiking on the right side of the forks, we can’t say anything more about where those paths went.

Nevertheless, we then followed the Mill D South Fork until the trail abruptly ended where any further progress involved crossing the very cold and fast-running Mill D South Fork.

In addition to signage proclaiming that swimming and wading was prohibited, this obstacle was pretty much the end-of-the-hike for most visitors unwilling to get wet to continue.

Donut_Falls_086_08092020 - Julie and Tahia descending a rocky scramble to get down to the Mill D South Fork Creek en route to Donut Falls
Julie and Tahia descending a rocky scramble to get down to the Mill D South Fork Creek en route to Donut Falls

While the view from here left a lot to be desired given the presence of obstructing trees and how distant the falls was, it was still possible to get decent photos as well as a glimpse of the donut that earned this falls its name.

Donut Falls Trail Description – getting closer to the donut

We came prepared with Keens so we were ready to scramble across the Mill D South Fork.

However, on our first visit back in late May 2017, there was still a lot of snow around Donut Falls.

So that made the crossing this creek painfully cold (it would have been a good idea to wear neoprene socks at the time).

Donut_Falls_093_08092020 - Context of Donut Falls and people scrambling up the boulders that it cascaded over to reach the donut hole as seen during our August 2020 visit
Context of Donut Falls and people scrambling up the boulders that it cascaded over to reach the donut hole as seen during our August 2020 visit

It also made climbing up to the donut hole dangerous so I didn’t try it on that trip.

On our return visit in mid-August 2020, the creek was significantly lower, but it was still high enough to make it harder for those who tried to avoid getting their feet wet.

It was especially difficult to keep the feet dry trying to scramble up the boulders to the donut hole.

I found the boulder scramble up to the donut hole to be fairly moderate for the most part.

Donut_Falls_128_08092020 - Closeup look at people doing the wet and rocky scramble up the Donut Falls to access the donut hole during our visit in mid-August 2020
Closeup look at people doing the wet and rocky scramble up the Donut Falls to access the donut hole during our visit in mid-August 2020

There were some tricky sections though I didn’t find them to be all that bad.

That said, there were some high-touch rock scrambling sections, which concerned me in terms of COVID-19 possibly sitting intact on the rocks that got touched a lot.

Anyways, I managed to get right in front of and inside the little “cave” that Donut Falls dropped into.

Some people scrambled even higher above the waterfall, but it looked too steep for my liking (or at least when I considered the risk versus reward of doing that).

Donut_Falls_211_08092020 - Inside the 'cave' that Donut Falls dropped into, which can only be accessed with water shoes and a low enough flow, which was possible when I made my visit in mid-August 2020
Inside the ‘cave’ that Donut Falls dropped into, which can only be accessed with water shoes and a low enough flow, which was possible when I made my visit in mid-August 2020

After having my fill of this intimate experience with Donut Falls, I then scrambled back the way I came to rejoin my wife and daughter, who didn’t want to do the scramble.

Then, we hiked back the way we came to the official trailhead before deciding to continue walking down the Cardiff Fork Road (instead of the trail) given the lighter foot traffic and the straightforward descending trajectory.

Overall, the trip log on our August 2020 visit said that I hiked a total of 3.8 miles round trip, and we had spent about 3 hours in total away from the car.

Authorities

Donut Falls resides in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest near Salt Lake City in Summit County, Utah. It is administered by the USDA Forest Service. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Donut_Falls_005_08092020 - Getting a mid-morning start at Donut Falls in mid-August 2020, but as you can see, there were already quite a few people at the Mill D Parking Lot
Donut_Falls_009_08092020 - Julie and Tahia walking along the Cardiff Fork Road while a car was leaving during our mid-August 2020 visit
Donut_Falls_011_08092020 - We didn't notice this sign and trail on our first visit back in late May 2017, but on our mid-August 2020 visit, we decided to give this trail to the Donut Falls Trailhead a try
Donut_Falls_012_08092020 - Julie and Tahia on the Donut Falls Trailhead Trail, which felt a bit more natural than walking a wide pavement
Donut_Falls_017_08092020 - Julie and Tahia climbing up towards a road crossing, where this road went to some campground
Donut_Falls_020_08092020 - Julie and Tahia continuing on the Donut Falls Trailhead Trail just beyond the road crossing
Donut_Falls_022_08092020 - Looking back in the direction of the road that we had just crossed as we continued towards the Donut Falls Trailhead along the trail
Donut_Falls_023_08092020 - Closeup look at some kind of jelly-bean-looking berry on the way up to the Donut Falls Trailhead along the foot trail
Donut_Falls_024_08092020 - Tahia noticing some trail signage at some junctions along the foot trail to the Donut Falls Trailhead
Donut_Falls_027_08092020 - Julie and Tahia continuing along the ascending trail to the Donut Falls Trailhead as we were surrounded by trees
Donut_Falls_028_08092020 - Julie and Tahia getting some morning shade while hiking amongst the trees on the way up to the Donut Falls Trailhead during our mid-August 2020 visit
Donut_Falls_029_08092020 - Julie and Tahia traversing through another open part of the trail to the Donut Falls Trailhead during our mid-August 2020 visit
Donut_Falls_032_08092020 - Crossing beneath some power lines along the trail to the Donut Falls Trailhead.  It was at this moment that it dawned on me that this trail pretty much avoided the private residences that the Cardiff Fork Road went in between
Donut_Falls_037_08092020 - Our first glimpse at the parking situation for the official Donut Falls Trailhead as seen from the trail
Donut_Falls_039_08092020 - Julie and Tahia going along the ledge that climbed briefly before descending to the official Donut Falls Trailhead
Donut_Falls_043_08092020 - Julie and Tahia walking past the Donut Falls Trailhead as they started to ascend the actual trail
Donut_Falls_049_08092020 - Ascending the trail climbing beyond the Donut Falls Trailhead as we were finally on the actual trail to the falls itself
Donut_Falls_050_08092020 - Context of some mountains in the background as we ascended the Donut Falls Trail
Donut_Falls_059_08092020 - Getting passed by faster hikers along the Donut Falls Trail
Donut_Falls_064_08092020 - Julie and Tahia following along the Donut Falls Trail, which meandered through more forest
Donut_Falls_067_08092020 - During our mid-August 2020 visit, I didn't recall having to hike through this much forest before the footbridge, but it just goes to show you how fallible memory can be
Donut_Falls_072_08092020 - Once we got past the footbridge over the Mill D South Fork Creek, I noticed this trail that might go back to the Donut Falls Trailhead
Donut_Falls_075_08092020 - Julie and Tahia continuing to follow the Donut Falls Trail somewhere beyond the footbridge over the Mill D South Fork Creek
Donut_Falls_076_08092020 - Keeping left at this unsigned fork during our mid-August 2020 visit.  I wondered where that other trail went, but we never bothered to find out
Donut_Falls_080_08092020 - Closeup look at a bunch of black-headed flowers blooming by the Donut Falls Trail.  I had seen quite of few of these flowers in Western Wyoming earlier on in our August 2020 visit
Donut_Falls_084_08092020 - Noticing some sign saying that the Mill D South Fork Creek was actually part of Salt Lake City's drinking water source
Donut_Falls_087_08092020 - Julie and Tahia doing a little stream walkin on Mill D South Fork Creek, especially since we all had water shoes on during our mid-August 2020 visit
Donut_Falls_089_08092020 - Approaching the familiar Donut Falls on our mid-August 2020 visit
Donut_Falls_115_08092020 - Taking a closer look at the Mill D South Fork Creek, which still had quite a bit of water in it during our mid-August 2020 visit so we were glad to have worn Keens and Crocs in anticipation of getting wet
Donut_Falls_136_08092020 - Looking upstream at an attractive part of a cascade further downstream of Donut Falls as seen in mid-August 2020
Donut_Falls_140_08092020 - Looking down as I was making my way up to the Donut Falls during our visit in mid-August 2020
Donut_Falls_145_08092020 - Looking towards some people who tried to scramble up this cliff in a futile effort to not get their feet wet as they approached Donut Falls during our mid-August 2020 visit
Donut_Falls_159_08092020 - Finally making it up to the front of the Donut Falls during our mid-August 2020 visit
Donut_Falls_179_08092020 - A closer look at Donut Falls from closer to its lower opening as seen in mid-August 2020
Donut_Falls_201_08092020 - A couple scrambling their way into the 'cave' that Donut Falls spilled into
Donut_Falls_016_iPhone_08092020 - View of Donut Falls from inside the 'cave' that it spilled into during my mid-August 2020 visit
Donut_Falls_219_08092020 - My last look back at Donut Falls before I made the steep and wet scramble back down
Donut_Falls_234_08092020 - Slowly making our way back down to the flatter parts of Mill D South Fork Creek after having our fill of Donut Falls in mid-August 2020
Donut_Falls_235_08092020 - Last contextual look back at Donut Falls before we started to leave
Donut_Falls_237_08092020 - We noticed quite a few of these seemingly aggressive squirrels or chipmunks that have apparently gotten used to human food so they had no fear of us
Donut_Falls_244_08092020 - Julie and Tahia scrambling back downstream as we started to leave the Donut Falls area on our mid-August 2020 visit
Donut_Falls_249_08092020 - Leaving Mill D South Fork Creek as we scrambled up the rocks to our left
Donut_Falls_258_08092020 - Lots of people going the other way towards Donut Falls while we were leaving.  That just goes to show you just how popular this place was during our mid-August 2020 visit
Donut_Falls_259_08092020 - Julie and Tahia making it back to the footbridge over the Mill D South Fork on our way back from Donut Falls in mid-August 2020
Donut_Falls_273_08092020 - Descending towards the official Donut Falls Trailhead, but we still had to get all the way to the Cardiff Fork turnoff by the Big Cottonwood Canyon Road
Donut_Falls_276_08092020 - Julie and Tahia walking towards the parking lot at the Donut Falls Trailhead
Donut_Falls_293_08092020 - We opted to walk the Cardiff Fork Road back to the Mill D Parking Lot because it was a straightforward walk downhill along the road and it was easier to socially distance
Donut_Falls_305_08092020 - Descending past the original branch that led up a foot trail towards the Donut Falls Trailhead Trail that we had taken earlier this morning of our August 2020 visit
Donut_Falls_310_08092020 - Julie and Tahia approaching the Mill D Parking Lot as we were about to end our mid-August 2020 visit to Donut Falls
Donut_Falls_311_08092020 - Closer look at some of the wildflowers blooming by the Cardiff Fork Road on our August 2020 visit
Donut_Falls_321_08092020 - Looking back at another car testing their luck at finding parking at the official Donut Falls Trail while we were just about back at our parked car
Donut_Falls_010_05262017 - Looking back at the wide Mill D Parking Lot before the gated turnoff for Cardiff Fork along Big Cottonwood Canyon Road. As you can see, there was plenty of parking space here during our late May 2017 visit.  Note that this photo and the remaining photos in this gallery were taken from that first visit of Donut Falls
Donut_Falls_004_05262017 - Looking further to the east along Big Cottonwood Canyon Road from the Mill D Parking Area. Notice how wide the pavement was here, which attests to the popularity of this place when it's said to fill up fast on weekends and in the Summer. It wasn't too bad on the morning of our visit in late May 2017
Donut_Falls_011_05262017 - Looking ahead at the inclining Cardiff Fork Road that we had to walk to get to the actual trailhead for Donut Falls during our visit in late May 2017
Donut_Falls_013_05262017 - Julie and Tahia walking along the Cardiff Fork Road en route to the Donut Falls Trailhead
Donut_Falls_016_05262017 - Julie and Tahia continuing straight for the Donut Falls Trailhead at this junction with the Jordan Pines Campground
Donut_Falls_019_05262017 - Julie and Tahia continuing along the Cardiff Fork Road en route to the Donut Falls Trailhead while Tahia was starting to feel a little cold
Donut_Falls_021_05262017 - Julie and Tahia about to pass through some private lands along the Cardiff Fork Road en route to the Donut Falls Trailhead
Donut_Falls_023_05262017 - Julie and Tahia walking past some private property within the community of Cardiff Fork with some nice snow-topped mountains in the background
Donut_Falls_024_05262017 - Tahia and Julie passing through a four-way intersection as they were getting closer to the Donut Falls Trailhead
Donut_Falls_028_05262017 - Looking back at one of the private homes in Cardiff Fork, which was well situated amongst cottonwood trees
Donut_Falls_029_05262017 - Following other hikers towards the official trailhead for Donut Falls just beyond the Cardiff Fork community
Donut_Falls_031_05262017 - Julie and Tahia hiking past the official trailhead for Donut Falls just beyond the private communite of Cardiff Fork
Donut_Falls_033_05262017 - Beyond the official trailhead for Donut Falls, the trail was now dirt and more rockier as it continued its ascent
Donut_Falls_034_05262017 - We spotted lots of earthworms on the Donut Falls Trail suggesting that there was a bit of moisture on the trail prior to us showing up
Donut_Falls_037_05262017 - Julie and Tahia trying to go around some of the snow patches on the trail to Donut Falls
Donut_Falls_039_05262017 - Julie and Tahia getting around and over some residual snow patches along the Donut Falls Trail
Donut_Falls_043_05262017 - Julie and Tahia approaching a footbridge over the Mill D South Fork. This footbridge was where a potentially confusing trail junction on the return hike could cause us to easily miss this crossing
Donut_Falls_045_05262017 - Julie and Tahia hiking alongside the other side of the Mill D South Fork Creek after having crossed a footbridge en route to Donut Falls
Donut_Falls_047_05262017 - Beyond the footbridge, we kept left at the forks like this one to approach Donut Falls from the front. I wasn't sure where the trail on the right went, but I guessed that maybe it went further upstream from Donut Falls, but that's just speculating since I've never gone that way
Donut_Falls_050_05262017 - The Donut Falls Trail returned to the tree cover as the trail was converging onto the Mill D South Fork Creek
Donut_Falls_053_05262017 - Tahia and Julie carefully made their way down this embankment to hike alongside the Mill D South Fork
Donut_Falls_055_05262017 - The final stretch of the Donut Falls Trail meandered alongside the Mill D South Fork Creek
Donut_Falls_062_05262017 - This was the official end of the trail. Further progress required crossing the frigidly cold Mill D South Fork. So Tahia and Julie stopped here
Donut_Falls_060_05262017 - This was the view of Donut Falls from the official end of the trail
Donut_Falls_059_05262017 - Zoomed in look at the part of Donut Falls that fell into the namesake 'donut'
Donut_Falls_063_05262017 - More contextual look at the Mill D South Fork crossing to improve the views of Donut Falls
Donut_Falls_068_05262017 - Full look at the context of the view of Donut Falls before crossing the Mill D South Fork Creek
Donut_Falls_066_05262017 - Another contextual look towards the Donut Falls while attempting to cross the Mill D South Fork Creek
Donut_Falls_077_05262017 - Looking back across the cascade that I had to traverse in order to get to the side with the better view of Donut Falls
Donut_Falls_070_05262017 - This was a closer look at the Donut Falls spilling right into the 'donut'
Donut_Falls_078_05262017 - This snow bank was one of the obstacles that made me not want to go too close to the donut hole in Donut Falls
Donut_Falls_079_05262017 - Looking back at Julie and Tahia was downstream on the Mill D South Fork Creek as seen from the snow bank near the base of Donut Falls
Donut_Falls_082_05262017 - Contextual view up at the Donut Falls from the other side of the Mill D South Fork Creek
Donut_Falls_100_05262017 - Another look at the front of Donut Falls and succeeding cascades before heading back across the creek to rejoin Julie and Tahia
Donut_Falls_106_05262017 - This was probably my closest view of the Donut Falls without as much obstructions in front of the main part of its drop on the left side
Donut_Falls_109_05262017 - This was as close to a look at the donut in the Donut Falls as I was able to get
Donut_Falls_115_05262017 - Focused long-exposed look up at Donut Falls where the creek disappeared before re-emerging beneath its natural bridge as seen on our late May 2017 visit
Donut_Falls_121_05262017 - Last zoomed in look at the donut hole of Donut Falls before heading back
Donut_Falls_123_05262017 - Looking back at someone wading back across the Mill D South Fork Creek after have had her fill of her closer look at Donut Falls.  Like me, her feet must have been painfully frigid and numb since the water was icy cold that day in late May 2017
Donut_Falls_135_05262017 - Following some people back across the Mill D South Fork Creek to rejoin the official Donut Falls Trail
Donut_Falls_137_05262017 - Following Tahia as we had our fill of Donut Falls and were about to head back to the trailhead
Donut_Falls_138_05262017 - Tahia and Julie climbing back up the embankment on the return hike from Donut Falls
Donut_Falls_139_05262017 - Julie and Tahia back on the easier part of the Donut Falls Trail
Donut_Falls_154_05262017 - Tahia and Julie heading back towards the official trailhead for Dunot Falls with the Wasatch Mountains in the background
Donut_Falls_159_05262017 - Julie and Tahia back at the official Donut Falls Trailhead
Donut_Falls_165_05262017 - Julie and Tahia heading back across the Cardiff Fork private residences en route to the Mill D Parking Lot
Donut_Falls_176_05262017 - Finally heading back to the Big Cottonwood Canyon Road where there were even more cars than when we had gotten started
Donut_Falls_183_05262017 - We noticed some beautiful mats of wildflowers during our return hike from Donut Falls towards the Mill D Parking Lot

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We reached Donut Falls from downtown Salt Lake City by driving west towards one of the on-ramps for the I-15 heading south.

We then drove on the I-15 South for roughly 3 miles before taking the I-80 East.

Donut_Falls_323_08092020 - The busy Mill D Parking Lot right off the Big Cottonwood Canyon Road at the turnoff for Cardiff Fork Road
The busy Mill D Parking Lot right off the Big Cottonwood Canyon Road at the turnoff for Cardiff Fork Road

We then continued east on the I-80 for roughly 5 miles before keeping right to go south on the I-215 South.

After roughly another 5.5 miles or so on the I-215 South (Belt Route), we then took exit 6 for 6200 South then kept left to continue east on UT190.

Then, after roughly 1.7 miles on the UT190, we turned left onto Big Cottonwood Canyon Road.

From there, we took the winding road up roughly 9 miles to a large turnoff turned parking area before the gate for Cardiff Fork on the right.

Donut_Falls_006_08092020 - If the gate is open, then you can drive the remaining mile along the Cardiff Fork Road to the official Donut Falls Trailhead
If the gate is open, then you can drive the remaining mile along the Cardiff Fork Road to the official Donut Falls Trailhead

This area might also be known as the Mill D Parking Area, and this was where we stopped the car and began our hike.

There was parking on the other side of the UT190 though there was a trail for a different hike that started on that side.

Overall, this drive took us around 35 minutes including all the traffic lights.

Of course, if the gates were open, then it was possible to drive the last mile to the official Donut Falls Trailhead (shaving 2 miles off the total hiking distance), but parking was more limited there.

Donut_Falls_282_08092020 - This was the parking situation at the official Donut Falls Trailhead during our mid-August 2020 visit. We noticed that quite a few people managed to snag parking spots here, but we found it easier to just walk this stretch instead of stressing about competing for parking just to save around 2 miles of walking
This was the parking situation at the official Donut Falls Trailhead during our mid-August 2020 visit. We noticed that quite a few people managed to snag parking spots here, but we found it easier to just walk this stretch instead of stressing about competing for parking just to save around 2 miles of walking

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.

Slower more deliberate sweep from downstream of the actual Donut Falls showing its context and the people scrambling towards it


Downstream to upstream sweep of Donut Falls from closer to its base


Brief downstream to upstream sweep from right in front of the special part of the Donut Falls


Back and forth sweep from inside the alcove right before the Donut Falls spilling through the top and then flowing out the bottom opening


360 degree sweep from the official end of the trail


Left to right sweep of Donut Falls zooming in on the donut itself before zooming out and sweeping along the flow of the creek then watching some people brave the cold water before panning back to the falls


Long video starting off from the closest spot I could get to Donut Falls before scrambling down to a more sane spot and doing another sweep from left to right of the falls and creek

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Tagged with: salt lake city, wasatch front, big cottonwood canyon, cardiff fork, natural bridge, utah, waterfall, park city, summit county



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.