Little Adams Falls (Adams Canyon Lower Falls)

Layton / Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

About Little Adams Falls (Adams Canyon Lower Falls)


Hiking Distance: 1 mile round trip
Suggested Time: about an hour

Date first visited: 2020-08-09
Date last visited: 2020-08-09

Waterfall Latitude: 41.06524
Waterfall Longitude: -111.90406

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Little Adams Falls (also called the Adams Canyon Lower Falls) was an inviting 20ft waterfall that seemed to be way overlooked.

This was especially the case when you consider how popular the larger Adams Falls was.

Adams_Falls_100_08092020 - A faint rainbow at the Little Adams Falls or the Adams Canyon Lower Falls
A faint rainbow at the Little Adams Falls or the Adams Canyon Lower Falls

I suspect the reason for its obscurity was that it didn’t have a sign for it.

Indeed, it felt like it was pretty much found by locals in the know or people willing to do a little exploring of the unmarked side trails in Adams Canyon.

As you can see in the photo above, the Little Adams Falls may be diminutive, but it was attractive in its own right.

In fact, on my second visit to Adams Falls, it was on a nearly triple-digit Summer afternoon so the heat was brutal.

Adams_Falls_031_08092020 - Context of the Little Adams Falls where a family was already having a good time keeping cool in the very hot Summer afternoon that I made my visit in August 2020
Context of the Little Adams Falls where a family was already having a good time keeping cool in the very hot Summer afternoon that I made my visit in August 2020

However, feeling the North Fork Holmes Creek at this waterfall without even having to go the full distance to the larger Adams Falls was the big payoff under such conditions.

Now while this place seemed to be overlooked, it wasn’t totally unknown as I shared this place with at least two families that also seemed well aware of this spot.

If I was just content to visit this small waterfall and head back to the trailhead, then this hike would only be about a mile round trip with 240ft elevation gain.

That said, if you’re already here, you mind as well do the full and rewarding hike to Adams Falls using the Little Adams Falls as a stopover before continuing on.

Adams_Falls_018_08092020 - Context of the rest bench uphill from the 10th switchback on the Adams Canyon Trail. That bench marked the departure point to pursue the Little Adams Falls
Context of the rest bench uphill from the 10th switchback on the Adams Canyon Trail. That bench marked the departure point to pursue the Little Adams Falls

I only decided to make this smaller waterfall its own entry on this website because it could be a reasonable short destination for those not wanting to do the more ambitious hike to the larger upper waterfall.

Little Adams Falls Trail Description

Like with the main Adams Canyon Falls hike, I had to start from the same trailhead and go up the same 10 sandy switchbacks.

However, at nearly a half-mile from the trailhead shortly uphill from the 10th switchback, I reached a rest bench, where there were a pair of unmarked trails deviating to the right.

This was the departure point from the Adams Canyon Trail as I could take either of the two spur trails by the bench on the right (they eventually converged), and followed it towards North Fork Holmes Creek.

Adams_Falls_090_08092020 - Just to give you an idea of the scramble to get down to and back up from the Little Adams Falls, this photo shows you a family scrambling their way back up towards the right side
Just to give you an idea of the scramble to get down to and back up from the Little Adams Falls, this photo shows you a family scrambling their way back up towards the right side

These trails eventually curved to the left and followed a small canyon upstream almost the next half-mile before I spotted a steep but well-used path that scrambled down to a secluded cove containing the Little Adams Falls.

At the time I showed up, which was around 4:30pm in mid-August 2020, there was a faint rainbow starting to show up in the waterfall’s mist.

After having my fill of the Little Adams Falls, I had a choice of going back the way I came or continuing up some scrambling trails to try to rejoin the Adams Canyon Trail well upstream.

I learned the hard way that it wasn’t easy to find the continuation trail so I wound up doing the sure thing by backtracking to the bench, and then resuming the Adams Canyon Trail from there.

Authorities

Little Adams Falls (or the Adams Canyon Lower 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_004_08092020 - Sign at the trailhead for the Adams Canyon Trail indicating that the Adams Falls was 1.75 miles away. Fortunately, I didn't have to go that far to experience the Lower Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_005_08092020 - Going up the familiar trailhead for the Adams Canyon Trail as it followed the fence-lined sandy path towards switchbacks
Adams_Falls_009_08092020 - This was one of 10 sandy switchbacks that I had to ascend in order to access at least the Little Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_014_08092020 - During the climb up the sandy switchbacks, I did manage to get these views back over towards the trailhead parking and some kind of pond on the way up to Little Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_025_08092020 - After reaching the rest bench beyond the 10th switchback, I then followed one of the neighboring unmarked spur trails leading in the direction of North Fork Holmes Creek
Adams_Falls_029_08092020 - Following along the edge of the small canyon containing the Little Adams Falls as I looked for a way down
Adams_Falls_035_08092020 - Looking towards the Little Adams Falls with a family already here to enjoy its cool waters
Adams_Falls_039_08092020 - Another look at the Little Adams Falls when the family that was here had already left and I had a brief moment with this waterfall to myself
Adams_Falls_046_08092020 - Long-exposed look at the Adams Canyon Lower Falls while I briefly had some alone time here during my scorcing mid-August 2020 visit
Adams_Falls_051_08092020 - Broad long-exposed look at the Little Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_073_08092020 - More direct look at the Lower Adams Falls in mid-August 2020
Adams_Falls_088_08092020 - Frontal look at the Lower Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_106_08092020 - Looking back at the Lower Adams Falls one last time before heading back to the rest bench to resume the Adams Canyon Trail
Adams_Falls_114_08092020 - As I climbed out of the small canyon, I noticed that one of the families that was at the Lower Falls decided to scramble towards the brink of the falls
Adams_Falls_121_08092020 - Making it back to the rest bench to pretty much end my short excursion to the Lower or Little Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_250_08092020 - When I headed back from the Adams Falls, I decided to see if I could find the shortcut trail that might have been a shorter alternative to hook up the Little Adams Falls Trail with the main Adams Canyon Trail, and this was the trail that I spotted
Adams_Falls_252_08092020 - The connecting trail between the Adams Canyon Trail and the top of the Lower Adams Falls hugged this ledge
Adams_Falls_253_08092020 - Continuing to hug the ledges and scramble towards the familiar the trail I had taken earlier to visit the Lower Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_255_08092020 - Still clinging to the ledges in pursuit of the Lower Adams Falls as I was coming back from the main Adams Falls
Adams_Falls_257_08092020 - Looking down towards Layton as I was pursuing the Little Adams Falls via the shortcut
Adams_Falls_259_08092020 - When I finally spotted Little Adams Falls again, it was already in half-shadow so the lighting wasn't good anymore
Adams_Falls_263_08092020 - Descending the sandy switchbacks to return to the Adams Canyon Trailhead
Adams_Falls_265_08092020 - Descending the sandy trail back down to the Adams Canyon Trailhead
Adams_Falls_266_08092020 - Finally making it back down to the Adams Canyon Trailhead, which was still surprisingly busy despite it being almost dinner time in mid-August 2020

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Little Adams Falls or the Adams Canyon Lower Falls shares the same trailhead as that of Adams Falls.

So to drive 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_002_08092020 - The unpaved trailhead parking lot for the Adams Canyon Trail, which also happened to be the same starting point to pursue the Little Adams Falls
The unpaved trailhead parking lot for the Adams Canyon Trail, which also happened to be the same starting point to pursue the Little Adams Falls

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_268_08092020 - Looking back towards the north at the Adams Canyon Trailhead Parking Lot
Looking back towards the north at the Adams Canyon Trailhead Parking Lot

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.

Downstream to upstream sweep of the Little Adams Falls as seen from the angle when I first got to the secluded cove


Long video examining the Little Adams Falls from both sides of its plunge pool with a polarization adjustment

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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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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.
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