Stewart Falls

Mt Timpanogos Wilderness / Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest / Provo Canyon / Aspen Grove / Sundance, Utah, USA

About Stewart Falls


Hiking Distance: 3.5 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 2.5-3 hours

Date first visited: 2017-05-28
Date last visited: 2017-05-28

Waterfall Latitude: 40.3863
Waterfall Longitude: -111.60462

Stewart Falls (also called Stewarts Cascade) was definitely one of the more popular waterfalling excursions within the vicinity of Salt Lake City.

And it was for good reason why the falls was so popular.

Stewart_Falls_089_05282017 - Stewart Falls or Stewarts Cascade
Stewart Falls or Stewarts Cascade

After all, it featured a reportedly year-round flow on the backside of Mt Timpanogos while plunging over 200ft over a pair of drops.

The drops consisted of a giant main plunge followed by a smaller but gushing lower tier.

Its popularity was evident when I showed up on a warm Sunday during Memorial Day Weekend, where scores of people were either cooling off in the waterfall’s spray or occupying its narrow trail.

Perhaps the only caveat I had about visiting this east-facing falls was that I showed up in the early afternoon, I looked right against the sun.

Stewart_Falls_066_05282017 - Context of Stewart Falls with a tall mountain behind it
Context of Stewart Falls with a tall mountain behind it

If I had to do it all over again, I would have done this hike earlier in the morning when the falls would be backlit and there would likely be fewer people.

About the Stewart Falls Hike

The popularity of Stewart Falls belied the underlying degree of difficulty in this excursion.

Actually, there were at least a couple of different ways to do the hike – one starting from Aspen Grove and the other starting from the Sundance Resort.

Each route was said to require at least 3 miles round trip.

Stewart_Falls_018_05282017 - The Stewarts Cascade Trail from Aspen Grove was very popular
The Stewarts Cascade Trail from Aspen Grove was very popular

Since I only did the somewhat rugged 3.6-mile round trip hike from the Mt Timpanogos Trailhead by Aspen Grove (see directions below), this is how I’ll do the trail description.

While I understand the approach from Sundance was less up-and-down and a little shorter than the one I wound up taking, the Aspen Grove approach was cheaper.

That’s because I was only required to pay $6 per vehicle (though they accepted my National Parks Pass here).

This option also provided more opportunities to see Stewart Falls from different angles in addition to getting nice panoramas.

Stewart_Falls_043_05282017 - Attractive panoramas was one of the advantages of doing the Stewart Falls hike from Aspen Grove
Attractive panoramas was one of the advantages of doing the Stewart Falls hike from Aspen Grove

Overall, I had spent about a little over 2 hours away from the car on this hike.

The pace of the hike was a bit herky-jerky because I often stopped to let people going in the opposite direction pass through.

At the same time, I found myself being caught behind slower hikers with limited opportunities to pass.

I did manage to trail run on the final downhill on the return hike so that might have helped to offset some of the delays from the inconsistent hiking pace resulting from all the foot traffic.

Stewart_Falls_146_05282017 - Looking towards some kind of cirque in the distance as I was approaching the Aspen Grove Trailhead near the end of the my Stewart Falls hike
Looking towards some kind of cirque in the distance as I was approaching the Aspen Grove Trailhead near the end of the my Stewart Falls hike

Regardless, I felt this was a hike that Julie and Tahia could have also done even though it was moderate in difficulty (especially if you’re not acclimated to the altitude).

Indeed, I saw many younger kids as well as some senior citizens doing this hike.

Therefore, I was definitely under the impression that Stewart Falls would make for a great family outing despite the moderate difficulty.

Stewart Falls Trail Description – from Mt Timpanogos Trailhead to the waterfall

From the busy Mt Timpanogos Trailhead, the trail began just past a pit toilet facility with signage suggesting that the Stewart Cascades was another 2 miles away from here.

Stewart_Falls_021_05282017 - The Stewart Falls Trail was very busy throughout its two-mile length, but it did offer some panoramic scenery along the way
The Stewart Falls Trail was very busy throughout its two-mile length, but it did offer some panoramic scenery along the way

My GPS log actually suggested the one-way distance was roughly 0.2 miles shorter than that.

After rounding a bend with a partial view of some kind of cirque or bowl in the distance, the trail then started its narrow climb in earnest, which persisted for the next mile or so.

The trail more or less hugged a ledge as it followed the mountainous contours providing glimpses of the valley and surrounding mountains cut forth by the Northern Fork Provo River.

Eventually, the climb topped out as the tree cover briefly gave way to a clearing where many trees and shrubs were mysteriously bent in the downhill direction (to my left).

Stewart_Falls_038_05282017 - Approaching a curious section of the Stewart Falls hike where all the vegetation were bent downslope, which suspected was caused by an avalache or two
Approaching a curious section of the Stewart Falls hike where all the vegetation were bent downslope, which suspected was caused by an avalache or two

I suspected that the bending vegetation might have been caused by avalanches as this clearing was well-within range of some neighboring mountains that could have easily spawned the unstable snow.

Beyond the apex of the climb, the trail then began a pretty long descent that initially passed through more forested sections providing some welcome shade to provide a little relief from the intense sun.

As the trail eventually made a turn (at roughly 1.3 miles from the trailhead), that was when I finally got my first glimpse of Stewart Falls and the accompanying Stewart Cascades.

The Stewart Cascades looked like other tall cascades blending in with the snow that was still present.

Stewart_Falls_085_05282017 - Descending towards an outcrop with a close-up view of Stewart Falls
Descending towards an outcrop with a close-up view of Stewart Falls

The views from here also allowed me to look in the downstream direction towards the Sundance Resort area.

Anyways, the trail continued descending along a somewhat narrow ledge as it would eventually reach a rocky outcrop looking right at the Stewart Falls.

This was at about 1.7 miles from the trailhead.

The final descent was on a narrower but still well-used path as it would eventually deposit me right at the base of Stewart Falls.

Stewart_Falls_096_05282017 - Looking down from the outcrop before Stewart Falls towards people at its base along with the Sundance Trail coming in from the left
Looking down from the outcrop before Stewart Falls towards people at its base along with the Sundance Trail coming in from the left

This was also the trail junction with the trail coming from the Sundance Resort.

Exploring the base of Stewart Falls

While at the base of Stewart Falls, I was looking up against the early afternoon sun, which conspired to make taking photos a difficult task.

I regretted my decision not to do this hike earlier in the day when the sun would have been behind me (we had visited Battle Creek Falls during that time).

Anyways, there was also a very steep informal scrambling “trail” that quite a few daring young folks did to climb up to a ledge that led right up to the upper drop of Stewart Falls.

Stewart_Falls_107_05282017 - Looking right against the sun from the base of Stewart Falls
Looking right against the sun from the base of Stewart Falls

This was too steep for me so I didn’t bother doing it.

Meanwhile, there were dozens of other people content to sit in the spray of the falls while playing in the stream just downstream of the falls.

After having my fill of the falls, I then had to hike back the way I came as I now had to make a pretty long climb to get back to the avalanche zone.

Only after that avalanche zone would the trail then made a final descent to the Mt Timpanogos Trailhead.

Authorities

Stewart Falls resides within the Mount Timpanogos Wilderness in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest near Provo in Utah 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.

Stewart_Falls_005_05282017 - The sign at the start of the hike at the Mt Timpanogos Trailhead said that the Stewart Cascades were two miles from this point
Stewart_Falls_010_05282017 - Initially, the Stewart Falls Trail meandered in the direction of that cirque up ahead, which I believe was in the direction of Mt Timpanogos itself
Stewart_Falls_011_05282017 - Then, the Stewart Falls Trail made a sharp bend to the left and started climbing in earnest. As you can see, there were lots of people on this trail
Stewart_Falls_027_05282017 - The Stewart Falls Trail meandered amongst trees like what's shown here providing some partial shade as it continued its climb
Stewart_Falls_031_05282017 - Passing through a little clearing on the Stewart Falls hike from the Mt Timpanogos Trailhead
Stewart_Falls_034_05282017 - The Stewart Falls Trail then meandered past this little clearing or meadow
Stewart_Falls_044_05282017 - There were gorgeous panoramas seen from the apex of the Stewart Falls Trail
Stewart_Falls_058_05282017 - The Stewart Falls Trail then resumed its descent by re-entering more forested terrain providing some more partial shade from the afternoon sun
Stewart_Falls_059_05282017 - Starting to get my first distant glimpses of the Stewart Falls as the trail veered towards the right and entered the Stewart Creek drainage
Stewart_Falls_060_05282017 - Zoomed in look at Stewart Falls from a distance
Stewart_Falls_081_05282017 - There was still a little further to go in order to get right up to the Stewart Falls
Stewart_Falls_094_05282017 - My first close-up look at the Stewart Falls as seen from an outcrop before making the final descent to its base
Stewart_Falls_097_05282017 - Joining this crowd of people checking out Stewart Falls from the rocky outcrop
Stewart_Falls_098_05282017 - The final descent to the base of Stewart Falls
Stewart_Falls_110_05282017 - Some people did the steep scramble to the upper right to get right up to the ledge right next to the main drop of Stewart Falls
Stewart_Falls_111_05282017 - This was the trail leading down to the Sundance Resort, which was the other way of hiking to the falls that I'd imagine was less up-and-down than the Aspen Grove (Mt Timpanogos Trailhead) route
Stewart_Falls_115_05282017 - After having my fill of the bottom of Stewart Falls, it was time to climb back up
Stewart_Falls_121_05282017 - Continuing on the long uphill hike as I had my fill of Stewart Falls and headed back to the Mt Timpanogos Trailhead
Stewart_Falls_125_05282017 - A closer look at some of the terrain that the Stewart Falls hike was like on the return to the Mt Timpanogos Trailhead
Stewart_Falls_126_05282017 - Looking down at some folks on the Sundance Resort route to Stewart Falls
Stewart_Falls_132_05282017 - When I made it back to the part where the bent trees were, I looked up the slope to see if there were clues of a past avalanche that might have caused this weird observation
Stewart_Falls_135_05282017 - Back at the avalanche zone on the Stewart Falls hike. The rest of the hike was now downhill
Stewart_Falls_139_05282017 - Looking in the distance at some cleared hillsides as well as a water tank on the way back to the Mt Timpanogos Trailhead
Stewart_Falls_140_05282017 - The final descent towards the Mt Timpanogos Trailhead with a partial view of the familiar cirque that I saw earlier on at the start of the Stewart Falls hike
Stewart_Falls_143_05282017 - Finally making it back to the Mt Timpanogos Trailhead to end the Stewart Falls hike

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To reach Stewart Falls from downtown Salt Lake City, we went west towards one of the on-ramps for the I-15 heading south.

We then drove on the I-15 South for roughly 36 miles to the Hwy 52 in Orem (exit 272).

Leaving the I-15 and heading east on Hwy 52, we then drove for roughly 4 miles before keeping left to join the Hwy 189.

Stewart_Falls_002_05282017 - Arriving at the Mt Timpanogos Trailhead at Aspen Grove, which was one of the trailheads for the Stewart Falls hike
Arriving at the Mt Timpanogos Trailhead at Aspen Grove, which was one of the trailheads for the Stewart Falls hike

Once we were headed northeast on the Hwy 189, we drove for roughly 7 miles passing through Provo Canyon to the first left turn beyond the tunnel (Alpine Loop Scenic Byway or Hwy 92).

Once on the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway, we then drove up this mountain road for the next 4.5 miles or so into the Aspen Grove community.

We then continued driving on Hwy 92 towards a kiosk, where we showed our National Parks Pass (or paid $6 per vehicle), and the Mt Timpanogos Trailhead was the first parking lot on the left.

Overall, this drive would take about an hour.

Stewart_Falls_003_05282017 - Looking back at the very busy Mt Timpanogos Trailhead parking lot
Looking back at the very busy Mt Timpanogos Trailhead parking lot

Note that the Sundance Resort was about 2.5 miles from Hwy 189.

Sundance Resort was an alternate starting point for Stewart Falls, where the hike could begin from the end of a chairlift to take out a good chunk of the elevation gain.

To give you some geographical context, Salt Lake City was about 45 miles (45 minutes drive) north of Provo, 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.

View of Stewart Falls and neighboring cascades from the trail when I first spotted them


180 degree sweep from an outcrop with a butterfly-inducing view of Stewart Falls and the crowd of people basking in its spray down below


270 degree sweep from the base of Stewart Falls showing pretty much almost everything notable from this spot from the falls to the trail to the dicey scramble leading up to base of the main drop

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Tagged with: provo canyon, provo, orem, timpanogos, uinta, wasatch, aspen grove, sundance, utah county, utah, waterfall, stewart cascades



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of 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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