Hike The Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail In Escalante

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One of the things I’ve wanted to do since I got to Bullfrog in 2016 was hike the Lower Calf Creek Falls trail in Escalante.  Well, it’s 2020 and I finally made it.  It’s probably the best/most popular thing to do in Escalante. And by probably I mean it is.

I won’t lie, I never knew that Upper and Lower Calf Creek Falls aren’t on the same trail.  I thought once you got to lower you could hike to the upper falls, but no.  Not at all.


I really liked the hike though and the falls themselves were like, twice as high as I was expecting them to be.  We did the hike around sunset so it was almost dark as we were walking back out, but it was a great time to go.  There were only two other people at the falls with us that got there and left at the same time as us.

We went in early May and it was so cold at the falls because it was just not that warm but there was also a lot of wind right by them.  The hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls is three miles each way but it’s pretty easy.  It’s not totally flat, but there aren’t any huge elevation gains either.  The hardest part is that a lot of it is deep sand.

The pictographs on the canyon wall.  Can you see them?

The trail is also a lot woodsier than I expected.  Yes, you’re in a canyon, but there is a lot of greenery along the way.  At one point on the right there is a massive canyon wall with three human figure pictographs right in the middle above the trees. 

They’re far enough away that they’re kind of hard to see, but also close enough that they’re pretty easy to spot.  If you want to see some other rock art up close in Escalante, check out the 100 hands pictograph.

Overall, I would definitely say this is worth the hike and a must-do on a Utah road trip or visit to Escalante.  While it’s not the shortest hike there at six mile round-trip, it’s definitely worth it and a favorite for a lot of people for a reason.


What to bring on the Lower Calf Creek Falls trail

Water bottle – It’ll be hot and you’ll need to stay hydrated.  Even if it’s not hot you need to stay hydrated.  A Hydro Flask will keep your water ice cold all day long.

Hat – You’ll want some kind of hat to keep the sun out of your eyes.  A baseball hat should be fine but a bucket hat or sun hat could help keep the sun off your neck.

Sunglasses – This is a must no matter where you are.  Sunglasses are best paired with a hat on those really bright days.

Sunscreen – If you plan on being outside, you’ll want sunscreen.  I like the Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch a lot AND it’s reef safe! If you’re sensitive to fragrance though, it’s not a good choice. I also like the same one but specifically for your face.

Light Jacket – Because you just never know.  Weather can change quickly depending on where you are, time of day, and season.  I usually use my rain jacket for this.

Good hiking shoes – If you’re hiking when it’s warmer, Chacos will be good.  If it’s fall, muddy, or a little cooler out, you’ll want closed toe shoes.


Where is the Lower Calf Creek Falls trailhead?

The trailhead for Lower Calf Creek Falls is at the Calf Creek Campground.  It’s just about halfway between Boulder and Escalante on Scenic Byway 12.


How long is the hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls?

The Lower Calf Creek Falls hike is six miles round-trip but it doesn’t have tons of elevation gain. The hardest part is that you’re mostly walking in deep sand. My hips hurt so bad by the time we were done but other than that it’s not bad.


How long do you need for the hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls?

We probably spent about three hours out there in total.  I would plan for an hour each way plus whatever time you want at the falls.  It could take a little more than an hour to get there and back, it will just depend on how much you stop and how fast you walk. 

We were walking pretty fast to make sure we got there with the right light.  Four hours total would be a good estimate. It’s the perfect half-day activity on a weekend trip to Escalante.


When is the best time to hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls?

There isn’t really a bad time to go.  As for time of day, it will be busier in the middle of the day than in the evening or first thing in the morning.  As for time of year, spring and fall will be best just because summer is so hot, though the falls would be quite refreshing in the heat. 

The trail is fairly shaded but I still don’t even want to think about walking that far in July.  Winter is probably good too but it will be cold.  It could be snowy, too.


Quick tips for hiking to Lower Calf Creek Falls:

  • You could easily do this and other hikes in one day in Escalante but you’ll probably end up pretty tired after this.  My legs hurt so bad after.
  • The Lower Calf Creek Falls are 126 feet high.
  • Going after a heavy rainfall could have them flowing pretty good.
  • Leashed dogs are allowed on the trail, but pleased clean up after them!  That means taking out their poop bags, not bagging it up and leaving it behind.
  • The whole trail is 6 miles, give or take a bit.
  • You can swim in Calf Creek Falls.  The best time for this will be summer because of the heat.  The water was pretty cold in early May.

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Have you hiked the Lower Calf Creek Falls trail?  What did you think of it?  Do you want to go?

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