Stairs Gulch is a short, challenging hike close to Salt Lake City and just a few miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon. You can access the hike directly across from the Storm Mountain Day Use Area entrance. This hike is unique because it heads up the creek atop stones and boulders past a succession of waterfalls and sheer cliffs that loom overhead. A traditional trail zigzags alongside the creek, but it is much more fun to hop from boulder to boulder up the waterfalls, crossing the creek to find ideal routes. Discovering your own route up the gulch is one of the joys of this hike. There are dozens of small and medium waterfalls along the way, and wildflowers line the banks of the creek in the summer.
This area has relatively low traffic, and it is a very dynamic and unusual hike. While it isn't very long, the steep grade keeps this hike challenging. You may even need to do some light bouldering to get up certain sections if you opt to hike off of the trail. You can access several Big Cottonwood peaks from this gulch such as Storm Mountain and Twin Peaks, but it is not commonly used because there are easier and safer routes available. The waterfalls begin to taper off about a mile up, which makes for a natural spot to turn around. Free-running down the dry boulders of the waterfalls is not advised, but it is a very exciting way to get back!
Be careful for the slippery rocks and stay out of the water: you are still hiking in a watershed here, which also means dogs are not allowed. This gulch is prone to avalanches in the winter and early spring, so winter backcountry travel isn't advised.