Lower Calf Creek Falls |

Escalante

Hiking Lower Calf Creek Falls - Escalante Hiking Lower Calf Creek Falls
Escalante

Overview | Getting There | Route | Photos | Maps | Comments

Overview

RATING: Easy trail walking
LENGTH: 3-5 hours
MAPS: CALF CREEK, UT

Mon

47 | 32

Tue

42 | 28

Wed

39 | 26

Thu

38 | 19

Fri

36 | 19

View Full Weather Details
SEASON: Any, although summers can be hot.

Mon

47 | 32

Tue

42 | 28

Wed

39 | 26

Thu

38 | 19

Fri

36 | 19

View Full Weather Details
Desert varnished walls nearing the falls.

Desert varnished walls nearing the falls.

The 126 ft (38 meter) Lower Calf Creek Falls is likely the most photographed and visited waterfall on the Colorado Plateau. It is a gem! The hike to the falls is stunning. At a bit over 6 miles with about 500’ of elevation change, the hike is popular with all, including families. Interpretive signs along the trail, at least to my preschooler, really kept the hike engaging and. Interesting. She was excited to hear each short bit of information and help hunt down the signs.

The hike does get full sun during much of the day with intermittent spots to rest in the shade. This is NOT a hike to do mid-day on a hot summer unless you are very heat tolerant and carry lots of water. I have done the hike many times over the years. My recommendation is to hike it early in the morning in Spring, Summer, and Fall. The lighting in those seasons is stunning in the morning and you will be back before the heat of the day sets in. Winter hikes I prefer mid-day when hopefully a bit of warm enters the canyon.

Because it is popular, busy seasons can find the trailhead packed with cars parking all the way back to and along highway 12. An early start will likely ensure easier parking and far less crowds. On my last busy fall visit we started the hike at 8:30AM and there were only 2 other groups at the falls. On the way out, however, we passed dozens of groups and the parking was quite congested.

Note: There are usually trail guides in the register box at the trailhead. I strongly recommend picking one up if one is available.
Note: The campground at the trailhead is a great place to camp and has water and restrooms. It is first come/first served and often hard to get a spot in. The campground is small, and not recommended for large trailers. Those camping in tents will have the best luck, but there are a few spots small camper trailers will fit. The current fee (2021) is $15 a night.
Not very visible, center of the picture in the shade on the cliff face are three red figures (pictographs)

Not very visible, center of the picture in the shade on the cliff face are three red figures (pictographs)

Getting There

Head east out of the town of Escalante about 15 miles on highway 12 until mile marker 75. Lower Calf Creek campground is signed on the left. The trail starts at the campground.

Getting started on the hike.

Getting started on the hike.

Route

Rock Art and Historic Site Etiquette
Rock art and historic sites are fragile, non-renewable cultural resources that, once damaged, can never be replaced. To ensure they are protected, please:
  • Avoid Touching the Petroglyphs: Look and observe, BUT DO NOT TOUCH!
  • Stay on the Trails: Stay on the most used trails when visiting sites, and don't create new trails or trample vegetation.
  • Photography and Sketching is Allowed: Do not introduce any foreign substance to enhance the carved and pecked images for photographic or drawing purposes. Altering, defacing, or damaging the petroglyphs is against the law -- even if the damage is unintentional.
  • Pets: Keep pets on a leash and clean up after them.
  • Artifacts: If you happen to come across sherds (broken pottery) or lithics (flakes of stone tools), leave them where you see them. Once they are moved or removed, a piece of the past is forever lost.

From the parking area, follow the campground road a few hundred yards to the trail proper on the left before the campground round crosses Calf Creek. The trail climbs a short bit, then levels out as it meanders up the canyon bottom.

About 1.25 miles from the parking is interpretative marker 5. This is one not to miss! Across the canyon, on the east side, are several granaries. These are very high on the cliff and take most groups a few minutes to spot. Binoculars helpful.

About 1.8 miles from the parking area is interpretative marker 8. This is another one not to miss. Across the canyon, near the base of the cliff, are 3 red pictograph figures. These are visible with the naked eye, but binoculars give a better view.

The falls are, according to my track, about 3.1 miles from the trailhead and about 3.4 miles from the parking area. (6-7 miles round trip) The base of the falls is an excellent place to take in the views and spend a bit of time.


Maps

Route / 7.34 miles / Elevation Range 5,327 - 5,673 ft.
Printable Maps:
Parking

12S 463475mE 4183027mN

N37° 47' 38" W111° 24' 53"

Trailhead

12S 463584mE 4183231mN

N37° 47' 45" W111° 24' 49"

5 - Granary View

12S 463793mE 4184521mN

N37° 48' 26" W111° 24' 41"

8 - Rock Art View

12S 463584mE 4185096mN

N37° 48' 45" W111° 24' 49"

9 - Granary View

12S 463280mE 4185364mN

N37° 48' 54" W111° 25' 02"

Lower Calf Creek Falls

12S 463029mE 4186945mN

N37° 49' 45" W111° 25' 12"

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