Lower Calf Creek Falls

The base of Lower Calf Creek Falls pouring into the pool below. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

Distance: 3 miles (one way)

Type: Out and back

Difficulty: Easy

Water: Yes

Kid-friendly: Yes

Dog-friendly: Yes

The Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail is an easy 3 mile hike in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah that features a beautiful waterfall pouring over 126 feet into a blue-green pool below. While being one of the most popular in Grand Staircase, it also has the distinction of being the only maintained trail in the monument.

Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail Description

From the parking area, walk 300 yards into the campground, passing five campsites along the way to the trailhead. The trail quickly climbs a short distance out of the campground where it meanders along the banks of Calf Creek. The large sandstone canyon walls rise up immediately on your left and in the distance on the opposite wall. As you pass through a forest of large sagebrush, you’ll notice the road noise soon begins to fade away.

After the trail bends through a small wash, you’ll climb a bit higher, the views becoming increasingly grand in the picturesque canyon. It then turns northward with the canyon receding far into the distance where the trail makes a straight shot along the wide canyon bottom.

Pass down through another wash, making the quick climb out once again where the canyon walls rise higher, Highway 12 barely visible at the top of the opposite wall. You’ll quickly pass through another wash and as you climb out, you’ll notice beaver ponds along Calf Creek below. While you may not see any beavers, the evidence of their presence through the ponds adds a spectacular sense of wild to the trail, as wildlife often does elsewhere.

The large petroglyphs on the sandstone wall displayed along the Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

As you then begin to pass through a grassy and desert riparian area, look for the large petroglyphs on the opposite canyon wall, marked by the #8 post. They’re at the base of the cliffs, roughly a third of the way up the canyon. The large figures provide a profound sense to the past, aging this hike in more ways than you might have initially expected.

More beaver ponds are seen below as you begin another short climb to a beautiful vantage point above the creek. The trail then descends and ascends through gorgeous oak trees above the wetlands and ponds. You’ll wrap around a sandy wash and pop out above the creek once again, this time heading deeper into a tall, narrow canyon.

Oak trees begin to wrap around the trail, the vertical canyon walls popping out through the branches and leaves. As the creek flows below, continue through the majestic desert oaks as you cross a small side creek. The canyon then narrows as you begin to pass through another oak forest where you soon begin winding through a large S curve in the trail. At this point, you may notice the falls pouring just ahead over the tops of the trees. Continue straight ahead along the trail to reach the desert oasis of Lower Calf Creek Falls and its blue-green waters in the pool below.

Lower Calf Creek Falls Pouring over Cliff
Lower Calf Creek Falls pouring over a large sandstone cliff into a pool below. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah
Large Alcove Perched Above Trees
A large sandstone carved into the cliffs perched above trees lining Calf Creek. Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah

Over the rust-colored cliffs the perennial creek pours over 126 feet of sandstone, the pool below appearing as inviting as tropical waters. Take your time and enjoy the scenery, then head back out the same way you came in.

Getting There

From Escalante, Utah, follow Highway 12 east for 15.5 miles, pulling into the well-signed Calf Creek Recreation Area on your left. Cross Calf Creek and park in the day-use area just beyond, making sure to the pay the $5 fee for access.

Elevation Profile for Lower Calf Creek Falls
Elevation profile for the Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Elevation and route courtesy of Route Scout

More Photos from the Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail

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