Summer Hiking Series: Stairs Gulch Waterfall Hike

Stairs Gulch Waterfall Hike

This is a great little hike to a unique waterfall, about 1.5 miles round trip or more if you want to wander upstream further. To get there drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon until you get to the Storm Mountain Picnic area, park directly across the street in a little pull off. There is a large area to park a little further down the road if there is no more room at the pull off. The trail is on your right and is not marked. Just a few yards from the beginning of the trail there is a sign about finding explosives. stairsgulchkid2This is a controlled avalanche area where there can be explosives left. We didn’t see any, but that’s how you know you are on the right trail.

For this hike the kids and I brought our packs with water and a little snack. I have found that the hiking snack is very important to the kids. My kids planned out which part of the snack they will eat each time we stop for a “rest.” My hope was the by the time we reached the end of the hike that there would be something left to eat. I decided that on future hikes, I am going to have to get creative on what snacks I start bringing. Our snack was a Nutri-Grain bar and some Graham crackers. Next time I’m thinking homemade trail mix.

The hike started out fairly steep, but doable for my 2 year old. As you follow the trail there are several weird water noises to your right. There are lots of pipes through here and in early June they have a hard time handling the spring runoff. Soon you will be able to see the river to your right. There are several little trails down to the river. You can take a short detour, but to get to the stairs waterfall, stay to your left. When you come to a large boulder, just climb over it and keep going. You will know you have reached the end when you see the beautiful “waterfall” that looks more like a lot of stairs with water flowing over them. It’s a breath taking sight!

When you have reached this point, be sure to watch out for stinging nettle. There is some in the middle of the trail and can really give you an itch! Otherwise, play around the waterfall. There are several little trails across the river that you could play around on for hours. We did this hike in just over one hour, but could have spent several hours playing in the meadows up by the waterfall.

A quick reminder to tell someone you are going on hike and where you are going, then enjoy the mountains!


My boy scooting along!


The Family at the finish!


Be aware of the Stinging Nettle!