Stewart Falls Hike Details
Distance – 3.6 miles roundtrip
Approximate hiking time – 1.5 hours to 3 hours
Elevation at trailhead – 6889 feet
Elevation at highest point – 7199 feet
Elevation gain – 310 feet
Difficulty – Easy, the first mile is shaded; partial shade for the second mile
Trail – well maintained trail of dirt, some gravel and rock. Horses also use this trail on occasion so watch for treats left behind by the horses
Amount of water recommended – 2 liters
Bathrooms – At the trailhead
Seasons to hike – Late Spring, Summer, and Fall
Permits needed – $6 fee paid at ranger booth, unless you have a National Parks Pass, then it’s free.
Pets allowed – Yes
How to get there:
Take Interstate 15 to the Orem 8oo North off ramp (Exit 272) and then turn east onto 800 North. Follow it for 3.7 miles to the mouth of Provo Canyon and as the road splits, take the left curve to go up the canyon. Stay on this road (US 189) for 7 miles. You will go through a short tunnel. Take the left a quarter of a mile after the tunnel. The road is UT 92, and you will follow this narrow road past the Sundance Ski Resort and past Aspen Grove, You will come to a ranger fee station at 4.6 miles from the turn off from US 189. There is a parking lot on the left just past the ranger fee station, park here.
(I created a Google Map for this hike at the bottom of this post)
Hitting the Trail!
Once at the parking lot you will proceed past the bathrooms along a well established trail. There are several trails near the parking lot, so look for the sign that reads “Stewart Cascades.” Take that trail and follow it for about 100 yards where it takes a sharp left into some pine trees. There is a trail that also goes straight, but that is the Aspen Grove trail to Mount Timpanogos.
The trail to Stewart Falls is very busy on the weekends, especially Saturdays. If you’re looking for some solitude, this may not be the hike for you, unless you go mid-week. On a recent visit to Stewart Falls, hiking back to the trailhead, we met over 70 people going up to the falls. Stewart Falls is a great hike for children. It’s not too long, nor is it very steep, and the trail is shaded for about half the hike.
Your hike starts by slowly ascending on a well-traveled trail through a forest of tall pine trees which offer shade throughout the day. Many times squirrels and chipmunks can be seen darting across the trail or heard chattering high in the trees. As you leave the pine trees the trail will turn south and you’ll see a round concrete covered water tank just to the left of the trail that stores water for Aspen Grove.
Once past the water tank you’ll follow the well-maintained trail through a mixture of pine and aspen trees. Eventually, the pine will give way completely to numerous stands of aspen. Along the way ferns grow along the trail below the aspens. Unfortunately, there is also a lot of stinging nettle along the trail. You’ll come to a clearing and the left side of the trail is choked with stinging nettle. A hike through here in the fall is amazing with the aspen leaves blazing bright gold colors. Along the way, you can see signs of avalanches that have swept through the area years before. The trail to Stewart Falls slowly gains elevations until it tops out at a clearing at about one mile into the hike. Then the trail descends gradually until it reaches Stewart Falls.
As the trail passes over some loose rock, called scree, you will begin to hear Stewart Falls. The falls will come into view shortly after that. The trail on this last part of the hike is mostly rocky. It is not as well-marked and is steep in a couple of places. This is where you will want to keep an eye on small children. At the end of the trail there is a rock outcropping that most people stand on to take pictures. It is a good vantage point to see both tiers of Stewart Falls. To the left of the rock outcropping, a trail leads down to the stream that comes from Stewart Falls. From there you can walk up to the lower tier of the falls.
Depending on the time of year the amount and flow of water going over the falls will vary. One year in June there was still an ice bridge that went over the stream from Stewart Falls. Other times the falls don’t have much water. We have never seen nor heard of Stewart Falls ever drying up, so feel confident that there will always be some water to cool off with.
The stream under the falls is shallow and slow-moving during most of the hiking season. It is generally safe for children that want to play in the water as long as you keep an eye on them. It is usually about 20 feet wide, and is frequently filled with fallen logs that have been left after an avalanche. Many hikers feel the need to climb up water falls. We do not recommend trying it as a fall could result in serious injury.
Between the rock outcropping and the falls is a steep slope of scree. It almost looks like the trail goes down that way, but it doesn’t. The first time the author hiked to Stewart Falls, he went down this way thinking that it was the trail. It was not. He still has a couple of scars to prove it.
Stewart Falls is a scenic two tiered waterfall, that faces east, so it is best photographed in the afternoon. If the sun is directly above the waterfall, you could have haze and sun spots in your pictures.
After enjoying a snack at the base of the Stewart Falls, and plenty of picturing taking, just return the way you came. You may notice a trail that goes downstream alongside the runoff from the falls. This trail will take you down to Sundance Resort. Most of the people who take that trail hike up to the Falls from Sundance.
Some of my favorite hiking gear:
What to Pack:
For more of our favorite hiking trails, click here.