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Calf Creek Falls - Grand Staircase Escalante

Summary: Two hikes are described: upper and lower Calf Creek Falls.
Lower: A short stroll in a popular canyon to a nice water fall. Along the way a few ruins and pictographs may be seen.
Upper: A short, steep stroll to a nice waterfall.
Directions: Lower: From the small town of Escalante.  Drive east on Utah State Highway 12 towards the town of Boulder. Between mile posts 75 & 76 turn left into the BLM run Calf Creek Campground. There is a $2 day use fee that can be paid at the self registration station in the parking lot.
Upper: Continue on Highway 12 to between mile posts 81 & 82 on Hells Backbone. Turn west onto a short, bumpy dirt road which leads to a parking area and register (no fee required).
Road Conditions: Lower: Passenger Car
Upper: High Clearance Vehicle
Navigation: Easy
Length: Lower: 6 Miles
Upper: 2 Miles
Date Hiked: June, 2001 & November 2002
Weather Conditions: Hot, though it was nice at the falls in June. Cool and sunny in November.
Required Skills: None
Hike Description: Lower: From the parking lot, follow the signs to the Calf Creek Falls trail. A short ways in, be sure to pick up a trail guide at the register. The guide provides details for a number of interpretive stops along the way to the falls. The walk is mostly flat and sunny as it travels beside the creek, however the path consists mainly of deep sand which will slow your pace. The trail guide indicates points of interest including two small graneries and a pictograph panel made by Fremont Indians approximately 800 years ago. At the end of the path lies 126' high lower Calf Creek Falls which cascades down a slick rock surface into a large pool which many use for swimming during the summer. The mist from the falls and the shade provided by the high canyon walls make for a cool respite from the summer heat. When ready, return the way you came.
Upper: On the west side of the parking area, follow the wide sandy track to the register, signs (no camping) and canyon edge. Begin descending diagonally to the northeast down the steep slick rock slope (there are plenty of cairns and footprints to mark the way). As you near the creek, the path splits. The upper trail leads to the top of the falls, the lower to the base. It's a bit brushy as you near the base of the falls, but there is a nice open spot in a shallow alcove with a good view of the water fall. Head back the way you came when you feel like it.
Rating (1-5 stars):
Though these are popular hikes, if you can take the crowds and the noise, the falls are well worth the trip. The author and his wife completed the hike to the lower falls in 2.5 hours. We returned at a later date and completed the hike to the upper falls in 1.25 hours.
Maps: Trails Illustrated - Canyons of the Escalante
Books:  Canyon Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau - Michael Kelsey
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
Lower Calf Creek Falls. Upper Calf Creek Falls.