Stewart Falls

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

About Stewart Falls


Hiking Distance: 3.8 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 2.5-3 hours

Date first visited: 2017-05-28
Date last visited: 2020-08-10

Waterfall Latitude: 40.3863
Waterfall Longitude: -111.60462

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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_059_08102020 - Stewart Falls or Stewarts Cascade in mid-August 2020
Stewart Falls or Stewarts Cascade in mid-August 2020

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

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

Its popularity was evident both times I have hiked to this waterfall as its base was accessible and a magnet for people cooling off in its stream as well as its spray.

Indeed, when I showed up on a warm Sunday afternoon during Memorial Day Weekend in 2017, there were scores of people that were either at the waterfall’s base or occupying its narrow trail.

Stewart_Falls_089_05282017 - Stewart Falls or Stewarts Cascade in late May 2017
Stewart Falls or Stewarts Cascade in late May 2017

When I came back to visit on a Monday morning in mid-August 2020, there were still lots of people both on the trails and at the waterfall enjoying the beautiful weather.

During the first visit, I learned the hard way that afternoon wasn’t the best time to visit Stewart Falls because it was east-facing.

So when I came back three years later, I made sure to visit the falls in the morning, and sure enough, I experienced the waterfall with beautiful morning backlighting.

That said, the latter experience was such that the falls had a much lighter flow as the snowpack was mostly depleted that deep into the Summer.

The Different Approaches to Access Stewart Falls

Stewart_Falls_123_08102020 - Looking back towards the trailhead for Stewart Falls by the Timpanogos Trailhead at Aspen Grove
Looking back towards the trailhead for Stewart Falls by the Timpanogos Trailhead at Aspen Grove

It turned out that there were at least a couple of different ways to do this hike – one starting from Aspen Grove and the other starting from the Sundance Resort.

Both times I’ve done this hike, I’ve done it from the Mt Timpanogos Trailhead by Aspen Grove (see directions below).

The main reason why was because this trailhead was on National Forest Land so it was accessible to the public.

According to the signs, this hike was around 3.6-3.8 miles round trip to reach the bottom of Stewart Falls, and my GPS logs pretty much confirmed it.

Stewart_Falls_146_05282017 - Looking towards some kind of cirque beneath Mt Timpanogos as seen from the Timpanogos Trailhead at Aspen Grove. This location also provided the option to hiking to that mountain instead of to Stewart Falls
Looking towards some kind of cirque beneath Mt Timpanogos as seen from the Timpanogos Trailhead at Aspen Grove. This location also provided the option to hiking to that mountain instead of to Stewart Falls

The trip logs also indicated that this up-and-down trail gained about 760ft in elevation as well as lost 750ft in elevation, which I had to get back on the return hike.

On my first visit, it took me about 2 hours total to do the hike.

On my second visit, I lingered a bit longer and explored a little more around Stewart Falls, so I wound up spending 2.5 hours away from the car.

In any case, I saw many families from elders to kids with reasonable fitness doing this hike so I figured that it made for a great family outing despite the moderate difficulty.

Sundance_Chairlift_002_08102020 - The chairlift ascending from the Sundance Resort to Ray's Summit
The chairlift ascending from the Sundance Resort to Ray’s Summit

The Sundance Resort approach involved riding a chairlift (which costed my wife and my daugher $42 total as of August 2020 and didn’t run until 11am that day).

They then took it to the Ray’s Summit where they learned that it was a 1.5-mile hike down to the waterfall before continuing another 1.5 miles the rest of the way down to the Sundance Resort.

Given the cost of the chairlift, the limited schedule, and the minimal distance saved by doing this option, I’d argue that the Sundance approach was really more for people staying at or visiting the resort.

Either that, or it might be an option for people who had difficulty finding parking at the public lots at Aspen Grove.

Sundance_Chairlift_003_08102020 - Looking towards Mt Timpanogos from the chairlift
Looking towards Mt Timpanogos from the chairlift

We didn’t do that hike so we don’t have a trail description for doing Stewart Falls in this manner.

That said, we did notice lots of “Private Property” and “No Stewart Falls Access” signs throughout the Alpine Scenic Highway between Sundance and Aspen Grove.

So that indicated that this hike was only meant for resort guests, and the only benefit of the chairlift was that it was a mostly downhill hike.

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

From the busy Mt Timpanogos Trailhead, the trail began just past a toilet facility with some trail signage.

Stewart_Falls_006_08102020 - The Stewart Falls Trail was very busy throughout its nearly two-mile length, but it did offer some panoramic scenery along the way
The Stewart Falls Trail was very busy throughout its nearly two-mile length, but it did offer some panoramic scenery along the way

It initially meandered to the southwest in more or less level terrain before the trail started to round a bend with a partial view of the Primrose Cirque in the distance.

Then, 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.

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

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

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

This was made even trickier when you consider the high volume of foot traffic in both directions as well as the COVID-19 pandemic where I tried to respect the social distancing.

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).

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.

Stewart_Falls_038_05282017 - Approaching a curious section of my Stewart Falls hike in late May 2017 where all the vegetation were bent downslope, which I suspected was caused by an avalanche or two
Approaching a curious section of my Stewart Falls hike in late May 2017 where all the vegetation were bent downslope, which I suspected was caused by an avalanche or two

On my mid-August 2020 visit (three years later), I noticed that more trees and shrubs have grown here and concealed a lot of the bent foliage (though some were still around).

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 on my first visit in late May 2017.

Stewart_Falls_054_08102020 - Descending towards an outcrop with a close-up view of Stewart Falls just as many people were approaching it during my mid-August 2020 visit
Descending towards an outcrop with a close-up view of Stewart Falls just as many people were approaching it during my mid-August 2020 visit

However, on my mid-August 2020 visit, the snow was less prevalent and the waterfall seemed to jump out a little more against the scenery.

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.

Stewart_Falls_068_08102020 - Looking down from the outcrop before Stewart Falls towards people at its base under a beautiful morning on my mid-August 2020 visit
Looking down from the outcrop before Stewart Falls towards people at its base under a beautiful morning on my mid-August 2020 visit

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.

There was also a trail coming up from the left that hooked up with both the Ray’s Summit Trail as well as the descent to the Sundance Resort.

Exploring the base of Stewart Falls

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

So learning from that observation, when I came back three years later, it was during the morning when the sun was behind me.

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

For most people, it was enough to enjoy the creek as well as the spray from the lower drop of the waterfall.

However, I noticed that there was also a very steep and informal scrambling “trail” that quite a few daring folks ascended to reach a ledge at the base of the upper drop of Stewart Falls.

While there was a direct climb on an eroded slope to get up there, I found it slightly easier to climb up a more vegetated and rocky “path” more to the left (closer to the waterfall).

No matter which approach was taken, I had to exercise a lot of caution, especially since it was easy to kick down rocks to unsuspecting people below.

Stewart_Falls_008_iPhone_08102020 - Looking back at the context of the narrow ledge leading to the base of the upper drop of Stewart Falls. Notice the people scrambling up the eroded gully
Looking back at the context of the narrow ledge leading to the base of the upper drop of Stewart Falls. Notice the people scrambling up the eroded gully

And I was aware that coming back down was also going to be tricky for the same reasons.

Eventually, I reached a narrow ledge with dropoff exposure that ultimately brought me back to the Stewart Falls’ upper drop.

However, the terrain here was quite sloped and uneven, so it wasn’t exactly a great chill-out spot.

Nevertheless, the views from here were different, and it was also nice to get a closer look at the wispier upper drop.

Stewart_Falls_091_08102020 - Looking up at the upper drop of Stewart Falls in mid-August 2020 flow as seen from the precarious ledge after accessing it via the steep eroded slope
Looking up at the upper drop of Stewart Falls in mid-August 2020 flow as seen from the precarious ledge after accessing it via the steep eroded slope

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_001_08102020 - Looking back at the familiar Timpanogos Trailhead, which was pretty much already full shortly after we showed up on a Monday morning in mid-August 2020. This photo and the next several shots were taken from that visit
Stewart_Falls_011_08102020 - Looking at what appeared to be some wild raspberries along the Stewart Falls Trail during my mid-August 2020 visit
Stewart_Falls_012_08102020 - The initial ascent on the Stewart Falls Trail, which at least benefitted from some morning shade during my hike in mid-August 2020
Stewart_Falls_016_08102020 - The Stewart Falls Trail eventually bent towards a less shadier part during the morning of my mid-August 2020 hike
Stewart_Falls_022_08102020 - Passing through a section of the Stewart Falls Trail that appeared to have concealed any signs of bent trees that I had noticed three years before my mid-August 2020 hike
Stewart_Falls_027_08102020 - Passing through more of the open scenery near the apex of the initial climb of the Stewart Falls Trail, where it was hard to tell if any of those bent trees that I saw 3 years before this were still around (though there were a few tilted trees as shown in this photo; but you really had to look)
Stewart_Falls_029_08102020 - Continuing on the Stewart Falls Trail as it passed through this hot and unshaded section during my visit in mid-August 2020
Stewart_Falls_031_08102020 - This open area pretty much marked the apex of the initial climb to Stewart Falls. From here on out, the trail pretty much went downhill to the waterfall
Stewart_Falls_038_08102020 - Descending towards the drainage containing Stewart Falls during my mid-August 2020 hike
Stewart_Falls_039_08102020 - Barely starting to see Stewart Falls in mid-Summer flow during my mid-August 2020 visit
Stewart_Falls_042_08102020 - Looking back in the direction of the Sundance Chairlift, where I was hoping that Julie and Tahia would do the chairlift and then meet me at Stewart Falls on our mid-August 2020 visit
Stewart_Falls_045_08102020 - Looking back at the limited shade on the stretch of trail descending towards Stewart Falls. I knew it was going to be a pretty hot climb on the way back during my mid-August 2020 visit since it was forecasted to be a hot day
Stewart_Falls_049_08102020 - Continuing the descent towards Stewart Falls on my Monday morning visit in mid-August 2020
Stewart_Falls_050_08102020 - Broad look at Stewart Falls in mid-Summer flow on the descending approach as seen during my visit in mid-August 2020
Stewart_Falls_053_08102020 - Following a large family making their way to Stewart Falls during my visit in mid-August 2020
Stewart_Falls_057_08102020 - Approaching the rocky outcrop with a satisfying angled view of Stewart Falls as seen on a Monday morning in mid-August 2020
Stewart_Falls_063_08102020 - View of Stewart Falls as seen from the outcrop on the way down towards the waterfall's base in mid-August 2020
Stewart_Falls_073_08102020 - Finally making it to the base of Stewart Falls while sharing the experience with lots of people on a Monday morning in mid-August 2020
Stewart_Falls_075_08102020 - Context of some people scrambling closer to the base of the lower drop of Stewart Falls in mid-August 2020
Stewart_Falls_077_08102020 - Looking straight up at the upper drop of Stewart Falls. There were a couple of women on the ledge to the right side of this picture so it reminded me that maybe I might go up there to see what it was like during my visit in mid-August 2020
Stewart_Falls_082_08102020 - Looking down at the dropoff exposure on that narrow ledge leading to the base of the upper drop of Stewart Falls
Stewart_Falls_083_08102020 - Looking down towards the context of the lower drop of Stewart Falls and the people enjoying themselves before it as seen from the precarious ledge at the base of the upper drop in mid-August 2020
Stewart_Falls_084_08102020 - Looking downstream at the valley leading towards the Sundance Resort from the precarious ledge at the base of the upper drop of Stewart Falls in mid-August 2020
Stewart_Falls_086_08102020 - Looking straight up towards the top of the upper drop of Stewart Falls from its base as seen in mid-August 2020
Stewart_Falls_092_08102020 - Looking back as I was starting to head back from the precarious ledge in front of the upper drop of Stewart Falls just as some people were climbing their way up here in mid-August 2020
Stewart_Falls_093_08102020 - Another look back towards Stewart Falls after having made it back down to its base during my mid-August 2020 visit
Stewart_Falls_097_08102020 - Last look at Stewart Falls in mid-August 2020 before it was time to head back to the Timpanogos Trailhead after Julie managed to inform me via cell (couldn't believe there was some reception here) that she did not do the hike from Ray's Summit
Stewart_Falls_100_08102020 - Ascending back up from Stewart Falls as I headed back to the trailhead to end my visit in mid-August 2020
Stewart_Falls_106_08102020 - Going back through the clearing where I swore there were lots of bent trees when I was last here in May 2017, but there were hardly signs of them during my mid-August 2020 visit
Stewart_Falls_108_08102020 - Continuing through the open field towards the top of the climb. The rest of the Stewart Falls hike back to the trailhead was downhill at this point
Stewart_Falls_110_08102020 - Someone decided that it was ok to leave a plastic bag with soiled toilet paper in it by the Stewart Falls Trail during my mid-August 2020. Apparently, some people think others will pick up after them, which was a real immature thing to do not to mention a violation of wilderness ethics
Stewart_Falls_115_08102020 - Continuing through the field where I looked hard for the bent trees from three years ago during my mid-August 2020 visit, but they were pretty much concealed
Stewart_Falls_120_08102020 - Descending towards the Timpanogos Trailhead in mid-August 2020, where I got this teasing glimpse of Mt Timpanogos along the way
Stewart_Falls_003_05282017 - On the day that I did the Stewart Falls hike on a Sunday in Memorial Day Weekend 2017, the Mt Timpanogos Trailhead was full. By the way, this photo and the rest of the photos in this photo gallery were taken on that visit
Stewart_Falls_005_05282017 - The sign at the start of the hike at the Mt Timpanogos Trailhead said that the falls were called the Stewart Cascades
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. The mountain still had lots of snow during my late May 2017 visit
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 during my late May 2017 visit
Stewart_Falls_018_05282017 - Given the sheer number of people on the Stewart Falls Trail from the Timpanogos Trailhead (during my Memorial Day Weekend visit), this was what led me to believe that this was a very popular excursion despite the moderate difficulty
Stewart_Falls_027_05282017 - The Stewart Falls Trail meandered amongst trees like what's shown here (taken in late May 2017) 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 as seen in late May 2017
Stewart_Falls_034_05282017 - The Stewart Falls Trail then continued to meander past this little clearing or meadow
Stewart_Falls_043_05282017 - This was where the Stewart Falls Trail ended its ascent and now started its descent to the falls
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 during my late May 2017 hike
Stewart_Falls_059_05282017 - Starting to get my first distant glimpses of the Stewart Falls in high late May 2017 flow as the trail veered towards the right and entered the Stewart Creek drainage
Stewart_Falls_066_05282017 - Context of Stewart Falls in pretty high late May 2017 flow backed by a mountain still clinging to lots of snow
Stewart_Falls_060_05282017 - Zoomed in look at Stewart Falls from a distance in late May 2017
Stewart_Falls_081_05282017 - There was still a little further to go in order to get right up to the Stewart Falls
Stewart_Falls_085_05282017 - Approaching a rocky outcrop with a pretty close look at Stewart Falls during my late May 2017 visit
Stewart_Falls_094_05282017 - My first close-up look at the Stewart Falls in late May 2017 as seen from an outcrop before making the final descent to its base
Stewart_Falls_096_05282017 - Looking down from the outcrop before Stewart Falls towards people at its base as seen from my late May 2017 visit
Stewart_Falls_097_05282017 - Joining this crowd of people checking out Stewart Falls from the rocky outcrop during my busy late May 2017 visit
Stewart_Falls_098_05282017 - The final descent to the base of Stewart Falls on a Sunday afternoon in late May 2017
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 in late May 2017, 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 in late May 2017
Stewart_Falls_126_05282017 - Looking down at some folks on the Sundance Resort route to Stewart Falls as seen in late May 2017
Stewart_Falls_132_05282017 - When I made it back to the part where the bent trees were in late May 2017, 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 in late May 2017. 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 during my late May 2017 visit
Stewart_Falls_140_05282017 - The final descent towards the Mt Timpanogos Trailhead with a partial view of the familiar snow-filled cirque that I saw earlier on at the start of the Stewart Falls hike in late May 2017
Stewart_Falls_143_05282017 - Finally making it back to the Mt Timpanogos Trailhead to end the Stewart Falls hike on my late May 2017 visit

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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_005_08102020 - Looking ahead at the very busy Mt Timpanogos Trailhead parking lot
Looking ahead 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.

Downstream to upstream sweep from an outcrop with a nice look at Stewart Falls


Brief sweep from the bottom of Stewart Falls


Downstream to upstream sweep from a steep scrambling path near the bottom of Stewart Falls


Checking out Stewart Falls from the precarious ledge above the lowermost drop


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.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.