Bells Canyon to Lower Waterfall Hike

September 2015

Sandy, Utah

DISTANCE: 5 Miles RT (Round-Trip)

ELEVATION GAIN: 1,500 feet

ROUTE TYPE: Out and Back

HIKING TIME: Allow 3-5 hours

FEATURES: the lower reservoir, beautiful plant life, fish and animals, and the lower waterfall

OVERVIEW: Bells Canyon Trail to the Lower Falls is a 5 mile moderately trafficked, out and back trail, located near Sandy, Utah which features a fishing reservoir, and a trail to a beautiful waterfall that is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options, such as bird watching, fishing, animal watching, numerous opportunities to take beautiful nature photographs, and of course hiking. The trail is best suited from April until September. Dogs are not allowed; it is a protected watershed. There are two reservoirs and two waterfalls to hike to, depending on how ambitious you are. With each body of water destination the hike becomes more and more strenuous. Water flow is extremely low the later in the year you hike this trail (as seen in the photograph). Best water flow is during the spring season when the runoff is higher.

TRAILHEAD: The trailhead is located at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon, in Sandy, 10245 Wasatch Blvd. The trail runs east going up the mountain.

We had a dry year in 2015, hence the low reservoir level.

BELL CANYON RESERVOIR: Is located approximately ½ mile from the trailhead. From the trailhead to the reservoir, is rated as an easy hike. Many do not wish to hike beyond this dirt trail to the waterfall as the trail to the lower waterfall becomes a much steeper climb.


LOWER WATERFALL: After a brief stop at the reservoir continue up the service road to the Bells Canyon Trail. The trail starts off with very little elevation gain and meanders its way through grassy flats, scrub oak, and eventually you end up at the stream with a foot bridge. After crossing the footbridge the trail continues to follow the stream, and this is where the elevation gain kicks in. The trail from this point is rocky, with loose dirt, and you began to gain elevation quickly. As you continue up the trail, you want to watch for the trail to fork to the left, otherwise you might miss it and go right past it. During the spring, when runoff is high, you can hear the water flowing down the mountainside for quite awhile before you even come close to it. Keep in mind that during this time, the stream could run onto the trail, make sure that you wear proper footwear.

The views of the Salt Lake Valley are impressive; take the time to enjoy these beautiful views.

Getting to the base of the falls requires a steep descent down a loose dirt hill. Each year there are tragic accidents and injuries from those that take chances around the Lower Bells Canyon Waterfall. Please be careful, and remember that the rocks are very slick; it is very easy to slip.


The upper reservoir and upper waterfall are, you guessed it, up higher from the lower reservoir and lower waterfall. It is a much more strenuous hike, and doesn’t offer the beauty of the Salt Lake Valley that the lower reservoir and waterfall do; you are surrounded by granite and thick vegetation. If you are seeking solitude during your hike, you will not receive it from the trailhead to the lower waterfall, but the higher you hike, the better chance you have.


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