Elevation Gain
274.00 ft (83.52 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
1.50 mi (2.41 km)
Warming hut
No
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Stairs Gulch does not get a lot of traffic in the summer and even far less in the winter. Most people don't know the hard-to-find trail exists, and others shy away because of the high avalanche danger. For those with a sense of adventure and high intelligence in the outdoors, the rewards include an icy waterfall and beautiful mountain terrain.

Normally you can park directly in front of the overgrown and unmarked trailhead on the right side of Big Cottonwood Cyn Road, just across from the Storm Mountain picnic area. In the winter, however, you have to pull up about 75 yards farther and park at the plowed area also on the right. Start out by taking in the views at the lookout just above the parking area before walking a short ways down canyon to head southeast into Stairs Gulch. The steep but short trail takes you into the rugged canyon with its sheer cliffs on both sides.

The first small waterfall is on the right a few hundred yards below the main waterfall and has great views down canyon as the creek links up to the main waterway. If you are there on a "green" avalanche danger day, according to the Utah Avalanche Center, then you can safely continue up canyon at your leisure. Head past the base of the main waterfall to see many more falls as you work your way up the precarious route. Use extreme caution if you do head past the base of the falls; the ground underneath the snow is very uneven, just a series of rocks and large but stable boulders. During the winter most people turn around at the first small waterfall or after reaching the base of the main falls.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Pros

Quick and easy. Beautiful terrain. Rare to see other people beyond the parking lot.

Cons

Avalanche danger.

Pets allowed

Not Allowed

Trailhead Elevation

5,819.00 ft (1,773.63 m)

Highest point

6,093.00 ft (1,857.15 m)

Net Elevation Gain

274.00 ft (83.52 m)

Features

Near lake or river
Waterfalls
Big vistas

Typically multi-day

No

Groomed trail

No

Snowmobiles allowed

No

Location

Field Guide

Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

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