The reward at the end of the trail along Calf Creek is a stunning 126′ water fall. Much of the almost two million acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah is largely wilderness and not easily accessible, but this hike is right off scenic Highway 12, 15 miles east of Escalante. Day users pay $2 ($1 for Golden Age or Access).
The trail is six miles round trip so we packed a lunch. The trail is moderate, with some ups and downs as it follows the creek. A trail guide, available at the trailhead, points out historical and cultural features like a huge pictograph on a canyon wall and graneries hidden in cliffs for storage. What made the trail a little harder was the loose, sandy soil in many places, which makes for harder hiking, and the fact that about two-thirds of the trail is directly in the sun. The last third has more shade and you are rewarded with lovely trees, mist and cool at the falls itself. You can fish for brown trout and wade in the pool or simply enjoy the cool before heading back.
While there is a small campground at Calf Creek, it is limited to smaller RVs – 25′ maximum. An alternative is to camp in Escalante, which has one private campground. Plus just west of town is a state park. You can also pick up a few groceries and buy an expresso coffee in town. In fact, the best thing to do is leave your RV in Escalante and drive the 16 miles to Calf Creek. Parking is very limited and the turn onto Highway 12 with an RV is tough if you are headed east from there.
Globe mallow was in bloom with the trees leafing out- wonderful contrast to the red rock of this area. Southeast Utah always amazes me. It is high desert but down in the canyons is another world. Cottonwoods, willows and other water-loving plants thrive. From a high vantage point above the canyons, you can see a ribbon of green wherever a stream flows.
If you’re following Highway 12, the hike to lower Calf Creek is a way to stretch your legs plus see riparian Utah up close and personal. Jaimie