5.4 miles (round trip)
Calf Creek Falls
170 ft. gain/loss
Calf Creek Trailhead (start): 5,340
Lower Calf Creek Falls: 5,510 ft.
Popular, well maintained trail. A trail guide is
usually available at the trailhead.
Spring, summer, fall, winter. The trail is very
hot in the summer, with temperatures often exceeding
100 degrees F. For current conditions call the Escalante
Interagency Visitor Center at (801) 826-5499.
Near Escalante and Boulder
Calf Creek Trail is the highlight of Calf Creek
Recreation Area, a delightful desert oasis maintained
by the Bureau of Land Management. The canyon is
a haven for birds, beaver, and other wildlife, and
it was also once inhabited by the Fremont and Anasazi
Indians. Take a booklet with you from the trailhead
to help you spot some of the Indian pictographs
and two granaries that were constructed by the Indians
some 800-1000 years ago. Also, be sure to take a
swimming suit with you for use in the pool at the
bottom of Lower Calf Creek Falls.
Calf Creek Trail winds along the west side of Calf
Creek, a small desert stream surrounded by vertical
walls of white and pink Navajo Sandstone. Not surprisingly,
much of the trail is covered with loose sand. As
the cliffs erode, the ancient beds of sand from
which the Navajo Sandstone was originally made are
slowly being returned to the canyon floor. The dominant
trees in the canyon are pinion and juniper, although
cottonwoods and box elders can also be found along
the stream. Many of the latter species show damage
from beaver; you can scarcely walk a hundred yards
along the stream without seeing a beaver dam.
About 0.9 mile from
the trailhead a small stone structure can be seen
near the top of the cliffs across the river. This
is the remains of a granary built by the Fremont
or Anasazi Indians around 1100 A.D. to store the
grain they grew on the canyon floor. Another half
mile upstream, closer to the canyon floor, the Fremont
Indians painted three large ceremonial human figures
in red. The coloring of these pictographs is remarkably
well preserved despite centuries of exposure to
the sun and rain. Still more pictographs and another
granary are visible in a small side canyon west
of the creek about 1.6 miles from the trailhead.
Finally, after 2.7
miles, Calf Creek Canyon abruptly dead ends against
a 130-foot-high vertical wall of Navajo sandstone,
making it obvious that the end of the hike has been
reached. Here the creek emanates from the base of
the Lower Calf Creek Waterfall. The setting is beautiful,
with a sandy shore, large shade trees, and a clear
pool below the fall. Most hikers take an hour out
for a swim here before heading back.
Calf Creek Falls
Yes, there is also
an Upper Calf Creek Falls, though it is not nearly
as attractive as the lower falls and the hike to
it not as interesting. Nevertheless, if you still
have time and energy left after your hike to the
lower falls you may want to continue your exploration
by hiking to the upper falls.
To reach Upper Calf
Creek Falls you must return to Highway 12 and check
your odometer at the entrance to Calf Creek Campground.
From that point, drive north towards Boulder for
6.0 miles where you will see a rocky dirt road taking
off on the left. Follow this road for a short distance
to a wide, sandy clearing on the edge of the rim.
The trail to Upper Calf Creek Falls drops off the
rim near a large pinyon pine tree on the edge of
the clearing. It is not a developed trail, but the
BLM has placed rock cairns along the route to guide
you to the falls. The upper falls are only about
one mile from the highway, but they are 600 feet
lower in elevation and the hike out can be tiring
on a hot day.
provided by David
Day of utahtrails.com. Click here to order his
Favorite Hiking Trails