Lower Calf Creek Falls – A must see in Southern Utah

Calf Creek, Shadow and Sun

Lower Calf Creek Falls is a destination hike for many visitors to Southern Utah

If you are looking for a beautiful hike that pretty much the whole family can do, look no further.  Lower Calf Creek Falls is just over 6 miles out and back, but don’t let the distance scare you, the hike is relatively flat and offers plenty to see all along the way including ancient granaries, petroglyphs and quite a diverse collection of Plant Life.

Getting Here

Boulder Mountain Fall

Fall colors begin to glow on Boulder Mountain on Highway 12

Lower Calf Creek Falls is located on Highway 12, about 15 miles North of Escalante Utah.  Highway 12 is a scenic byway and provides some great scenery including Boulder Mountain, Hogsback and Hell’s Backbone.  The turnoff to the Lower Calf Creek Recreation area is well marked with signs.  There is a big parking lot, restrooms as well as some camp sites.  If you plan on camping at Calf Creek, however, be sure to arrive early as campsites are on a first come first serve basis, and often fill up in the morning during peak season.  Water is available at the trailhead and you’ll want to be sure to bring plenty of water with you, especially if hiking in the summer

The Trail

Calf Creek Trail in Autum

The trail makes its way through a sandstone canyon with lush vegetation

The trail head begins just a hundred yards or so down the paved road from the parking lot.  The trail is well marked and meanders its way through the sandstone canyon just above calf creek.  The trail is mostly flat with just a few rollers as you ascend and descend to the creek along the trail.

A trail guide is available at the trailhead that points out some interesting spots along the way.  You’ll notice along the trail there are posts with numbers on them, these mark interesting sites such as an ancient granaries, petroglyphs and unique plant life.  Information about these can be found in the trail guide.  After hiking for just over three miles you will reach your destination.

The Falls

Calf Creek in Sun

Trees provide shade and contribute to the beauty and peace of the falls

Lower Calf Creek Falls is 126 feet and falls from the canyon above into a pool, which then flows down the canyon.  There is no path beyond this point and trying to climb above the falls is nearly impossible.  There is an upper calf creek falls above lower falls that is only accessible from a trail on highway 12.

Trees and plants surround the falls and make for a great spot for lunch or a snack.  The water in the pool is quite cool, but still good for a swim for the stout-hearted.  There is also a few stronger trees for setting up a hammock.  The area around the falls is beautiful and comfortable and it is easy to spend an hour or more enjoying the beauty and peace of the falls.  While it is a busy trail, the space below the falls is quite large and rarely feels crowded.  With the orientation of the canyon, the falls gets sun early in the morning to midday and is completely shaded by the early afternoon.

Misc Info

Willows and Aspens

Apens and willows abound at the waters edge of calf creek

The hike can be done in a morning or an afternoon, with plenty of time to spend at the falls.  While Lower Calf Creek is a destination hike there are also some other areas to check out nearby including Upper Calf Creek Falls, Hell’s Backbone, Boulder Mountain, Escalante or a little bit further is the Burr Trail to Capital Reef National Park (4×4 is advised for this trail.)  If you are looking for a good place to eat after the hike I recommend the Burr Trail Grill in Boulder, they have some unbelievable burgers, sandwiches and home made pie.

That’s it for this post.  As always if you have any questions you can email me at DustinACook@gmail.com, and don’t forget to get outside and have some fun!


About Dustin

Healthcare professional by day, Outdoor adventurer on the evenings and weekends.
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