Stairs Gulch Trail

HARD 62 reviews
#5 of 10 trails in

Stairs Gulch Trail is a 2.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Salt Lake City, Utah that features a waterfall and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October.

2.5 miles
1102 feet
Out & Back


rock climbing






over grown



no dogs

Stairs Gulch is an out and back trail located across Big Cottonwood Canyon Road from the Storm Mountain Amphitheater. There is no sign located at the trailhead but the trail is easy to spot from the road. It winds along side Stairs Gulch and a series of small waterfalls can be seen from numerous paths off the main trail. The trail ends at the river about .3 miles in but the river can be crossed a couple different times and adventurous hikers can continue. Be aware of your own skill and limitations.

trail running
8 days ago

Amazing views but trail is heavily overgrown and footing is extremely loose. Not recommended for trail running. Would suggest hiking. Enjoy!

16 days ago

I've passed this trail for a few years and decided to give it a try today. So glad I did! It's so pretty! I would rate it as moderate, not hard. I like that the trail isn't marked, not so many people.

1 month ago

Great hike with beautiful small waterfalls and great views. A very territorial mountain goat lives up there and literally went out of its way to chase me and my hiking partner off the hill. So keep a look out!

1 month ago

This was a great hike. Love the waterfalls and river. There was still snow, but I still was in my running shoes. I would say it is not hard, but moderate for beginners.

2 months ago

Great out & back trail. It's been fairly warm here and the trail was relatively clear of ice and snow with the exception of a few patches. Crampons were not necessary, although we couldn't get all the way to the top due to high winds and lots of snow.

rock climbing
3 months ago


4 months ago

Beautiful. It's more of a moderate trail than a hard one. It is beautuful, irregardless.

9 months ago

A great trail. Not so hard. But sometimes you will have to climb on wet rocks and logs.

10 months ago

Very beautiful and very lightly trafficked even on a Saturday. We started walking/bouldering along the river about .5 miles up and then took the trail down. Going up took about 3x longer but seeing all the little waterfalls up close and getting wet was the best part. Did have a rattle snake encounter though.

11 months ago

Very steep, but lovely hike.

11 months ago

It's a good hike and definitely a cool destination, gotta watch out for the snakes though!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Hard but definitely worth it

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Beautiful hike. Not really much of a trail once you get in a little bit. Had tons of fun jumping rock to rock following the stream up.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

I found the beauty here to be worth mentioning. we used the waterfall to climb a lot of it, not the trail. Super fun with my 4 year old.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Super fun, steep but not too hard

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Loved this trail!!

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Fun trail. Overgrown in places. A fairly steep trail with loose rock in places. A little bit of climbing and the river crossing was fun. Didn't quite make it to the end because the snow pack but a great short hike for the evening

Friday, June 03, 2016

Fun! Very steep and rocky in some places. River crossings . Prepare with bug spray and spf before , biting flies and lots of sun ! Not a long hike , but still a great one.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Loved this trail!! Crossing the river to get to the top was fun- if you don't have chaco's or hiking sandals don't worry, you can stay dry as you cross the river. The last part of the trail is still covered with snow and is beautiful!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Finding the Trailhead: You can park in front of a sign labeled "STORM MOUNTAIN QUARTZITES" and the trail is immediately behind that heading to the right. There is a small break in the trail where you're next to the road but it picks right back up again.
The Hike: Very steep and rocky but very short! Once you reach the river you can stop there or continue by crossing to the other side. We crossed and headed up a short distance and then ran out of trail and had to cross back again to the left side in order to continue. We followed this trail all the way up to where we could see a glacier-like snow mound from where the snow was running out. It was pretty cool! Coming back down you will need to cross the river twice again because you'll run out of trail for a portion on each side.

Monday, May 09, 2016

it was definitely worth crossing the river and going up to the top. there is a huge glacier right now that the river flows out of. The trail was beautiful and very green. take chaco or teva type shoes if you want to play in the river. pretty moderate and short.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Did this a few months ago with my toddler on my back. We had fun and stopped along the little waterfall multiple times to touch the water and take pictures!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

It's a beautiful, short trail that dead ends at the river. You can criss cross the river and follow the steeper, less defined trails on each side as well, if you don't mind pushing through some bushes and small trees, but keep in mind that the trail gets less defined the further back you go. During the fall, the colors are great, as well!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

It's not a long trail - but it's very pretty. We went in the middle of October, my daughters are 3 and they and our older kids really liked it. We used the mobile app and it took us right to the trailhead... if you turn the corner around the ampitheater you've gone too far. There was only one steep drop off area we saw, the rest is either pretty flat or kind of rocky, but everyone not only made it but had a great time. The waterfalls at the top are pretty minor (the highest we saw was a 3 foot drop) but there are quite a few of them and the kids had fun playing in/near the water.

Monday, September 14, 2015

pretty but nothing special. seems to have very little traffic.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Awesome short hike. Steep with some loose footing in places, particularly at the beginning, but appropriate for small children if supervised. Easy access to water with great views. Photo 14 shows the trailhead. Park on the opposite side of the road from Storm Mtn. Amphitheater or just a bit before (should be room for 2-3 cars). It's the first trail if headed up the canyon. Will totally do this trail again.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

This is a very short hike with beautiful scenery. I saw quite a few animals including lizards, butterflies, chipmunks, and also a rattlesnake, so make sure to keep an eye out and never hike alone. I went in the middle of the week and only saw a few people, which might've been why all the wildlife was out. The cascades are amazing and the view is breathtaking. You're there once you see the picnic area. The trail is just right across the road where there's a turnoff you can park.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Stairs Gulch I hiked is a "challenging and infrequently used route to the summit of Broads Fork Twin Peaks" according to Then adds "This is a steep route, climbing over 5,500 vertical feet in less than 3 miles". That said we followed a trail for about 1.5 miles and 1,200ft climb before the trail disappeared entirely. Summitpost adds "The best time to attempt this route is during a relatively narrow window of opportunity during late spring and early summer, when consolidated snow will cover much of the loose rock and scree, and allows for easy cramponing up the steep slopes. Ascents are also possible later in the summer after all the snow has melted, but there will be significantly more routefinding through exposed cliff bands, as well as much loose rock and scree underfoot.". If you want a very challenging hike with few people this is it

Saturday, August 08, 2015

This is a very short, easy, family friendly hike. Takes less than 15 minutes to get to the first series of waterfalls and the trail is shady all the way to where it crosses the river. How far you go depends on your skill level. I've read you can get to Broad's Fork Twin Peaks from this one but I wouldn't do it. Looks like there are some pretty fun rock climbing spots if you cross the river. Very pretty! Be aware the river can flow pretty fast in some areas so be very careful when taking children near it. This is also a high danger avalanche area in the winter and the Forest Service sets out explosives for avalanche control. Probably best to do this one when there isn't any snow left.

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