As summer takes hold in northern Utah, the last remnants of winter melt into the beautiful waterfalls of the central Wasatch range. One great way to beat the heat is to head into cool air of the Cottonwoods or up Mount Timpanogos and get misted by one of their many cascades. There is an option for everyone. Some require a hike, while others can approached by car, some are crowded and are nearly unheard of. The one thing they all have in common, however, is that they tend to dry up as the summer drags on. So get out there as soon as you can!
Stewart Falls: Situated right above the idyllic mountain hamlet of Sundance, Stewart Falls is a popular trail because of its stunning beauty and lack of major elevation gains. Sitting below an eastern cirque of Mount Timpanogos, the cascade is tall but it does not often have a heavy flow. The autumn colors here are really fantastic, and there are many other waterfalls to see nearby.
Scout Falls: Less than 2 miles up Timpooneke Trail on the northern side of Mount Timpanogos, Scout Falls is one of the largest and most stunning waterfalls in the Wasatch. The water comes in from multiple angles when flowing heavily after big snow years, and the surrounding scenery is serene. The down-canyon views include Box Elder Peak and Mineral Basin of Snowbird Ski Resort. This area is not very well known to people outside of Utah County, you can't overlook this one.
Cascade Springs: While there is not really a "waterfall" here the spring-fed river of cascading water creates a cool place to walk around with the family. A set of boardwalks and bridges make it a charming little area to explore or to take a date. It's not very big but its located nearby to many of the places on this list. This one would be better for anyone who can't do the longer hikes required to see some of the others listed.
Bridal Veil Falls: A gigantic and easy to access waterfall located in Provo Canyon. Expect heavy crowds but this place is worth seeing at least once. Over 600 ft tall the two-tiered cascade is one of the largest and most popular in northern Utah. You can pull right up to the falls and flows pretty much year round.
Upper Falls: Located just east of Bridal Veil Falls, this spot gets a tiny fraction of the visitors because of the steep climb to reach it. The hike is not very long, but you gain some decent elevation before you reach the two-tier waterfall. Beautiful slate cliffs line the canyon, and the Provo river runs below. You can get these falls to yourself often, a far cry from the heavy traffic of almost all nearby attractions.
Horsetail Falls: Another one of the larger waterfalls of northern Utah, Horsetail Falls is located near the town of Alpine. You have breathtaking down-valley views alongside the beautiful waterfall. The trail is steep, but it seems to get families of all ages giving it a try. You can climb down to the base of the falls or hike behind it, and there are also some great viewpoints along the trail as you head up. It is less known than some others but more grand than many of the popular falls in the Cottonwood Canyons.
Battle Creek Falls: The flow is not usually very strong, but the waterfall is pretty and you can get up close and personal with it. The trail is not long to reach the falls, and you can enjoy them from the base and top pretty easily. It can be a little sketchy compared to other options due to the steep drop-off, but the views are nice, and it is easy to access. The top of the falls is not a great place for little kids, but they are easy to enjoy from below.
Rocky Mouth Falls: A short and crowded hike to a light flowing waterfall in the town of Draper. The area around it doesn't allow a ton of space to comfortably relax, especially with the steady flow of visitors. It is close to town and a short hike, so it's worth a look if you need a place to cool off.
Bells Canyon Lower Falls: One of the most popular hikes in Salt Lake, this medium sized cascade is well worth the steep trail. There is a beautiful area below the falls where you can enjoy the views of Salt Lake valley. The canyon walls are made of sheer granite, and the reservoir you pass on the way is another popular stop. A must-see for waterfall chasers.
Lisa Falls: Since there are not a ton of waterfalls in Little Cottonwood, this one gets plenty of attention. The hike is very short, so it's perfect for families. A unique waterfall, it cuts a knife edge into a solid piece of granite and creates and unusual looking natural feature. There are great cross-canyon views of the steep walls with other small waterfalls visible in the distance.
Tanners Flat Campground: There are a half dozen small waterfalls located along Little Cottonwood Creek at this campground. If you want a campsite with the sounds of rushing waterfalls nearby, then this is your place. This is a fun place to snowshoe in the winter as well: The flow of visitors is much lighter, but the white powder makes a great contrast, and you don't need to pay an entry fee during that time.
Secret Falls: One of the largest and least known falls in the entire Wasatch. Located just off the Red Pine Lake Trail, many people can hear this mighty falls but are not quite sure how to get to it. You have to check this place out...it is a real hidden gem. You can often have this place completely to yourself for as long as you like, which is a rare treat for such a large waterfall.
Ferguson Canyon: If you get here before the snow is completely melted (by mid summer usually), then Ferguson Canyon has three small/medium waterfalls all located one after another halfway up the trail. They are fun to interact with and are a great place to cool off since they are located at the steepest part of the hike. You can bring the pups along which is really nice as well.
Stairs Gulch: This whole hike is basically one small waterfall after another until the end of the trail. This is such a fun place; each falls is unique, and there is some decent vegetation and flowers. There are definitely some places you need to be careful about while navigating, but overall it is doable for intermediate hikers. It is steep to hike, but that makes for a new cascade every few dozen yards.
Hidden Falls: Located at the base of the Mill B North Trail, this small waterfall is extremely easy to see. There is ample parking and a short walk up to the small feature. From the same parking lot you can walk over to the waterfall at the base of the Mill B South Trail, also known as Lake Blanche. There are two medium sized falls just past the trailhead on the paved pathway, so you'll get three small and easy-to-see falls from the Mill B parking area.
Donut Falls: While these are not the most beautiful falls, they are probably the most unique and popular. Donut Falls in Big Cottonwood provides an interesting experience for all skill levels. For the more adventurous, at the top of the falls is a cave that you can climb inside to see an internal waterfall that feeds the main exterior one. While crowded, the hike is short and totally worth a try. This is another great one in the winter.
Heughs Canyon: Located along the Wasatch front, just like Ferguson and Bells, this hike is perfect for after-work adventures for Salt Lake residents. The waterfall dries up relatively quickly, so don't wait too long into summer to check this one out. The pretty grotto that houses these waterfalls provides a great place to beat the heat and usually doesn't have too many visitors. Dogs can join you on this one as well.
Church Fork Trailhead: The trailhead for the Grandeur Peak hike has several small waterfalls as you head up. They get great autumn colors, and the leaves pile up in the rivers and make for a beautiful walk with your dogs. The path is paved for the duration of the waterfall section of the hike, which is easier for anyone who is uncomfortable on a dirt trail.
Early spring is the ultimate season for waterfall hunting in this area. You will have a fresh green blanket of new foliage and good water flow from the snowmelt. Watch your steps on the slippery rocks while enjoying these natural wonders; waterfall hikes have many more injuries associated to them than hikes without them. Keep an eye on those kids and puppies, too!