Wednesday, 4-June – Lower Calf Creek Falls, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Trip miles: 30 miles
Route taken: UT-12 E and return
Average Gas mileage: 27.3mpg
Weather: very hot (90sF) with very little wind
Elevation: 5350ft at Lower Calf Creek Falls Trailhead
- hiking Lower Calf Creek Falls in the Escalante District of Grand Staircase National Monument
- seeing more of the scenic views along UT-12, especially the Boynton Overlook's view of the entire Escalante River area
We wanted to hike the Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail in the morning before the temperature and sun became too intense. It was already warm enough by 6:30 to get moving quickly. Just as we climbed out of the tent a wedge of Canada Geese flew over the reservoir.
We were on the road by 7:30, heading east through the town of Escalante and another 15 miles beyond to the Calf Creek Recreation Area and Campground. This campground is in a beautiful setting among the trees beside Calf Creek. It has potable water and flush toilets but no showers. The first-come-first-serve sites fill up by mid-morning. There is a $2.00 day-use fee.
In the afternoon we took cover in the shade of our campsite again and relaxed, feeling just a little guilty watching the volunteers toil in the hot sun to remove invasive plants from around the campground. Sitting on the pier at the reservoir I spotted a diving bird that looked like a cormorant.
Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail: This 6-mile out-and-back self-guided trail is rated as moderately strenuous. It has very little elevation change (~100 feet) but several unshaded sandy sections that are slower and take more effort to hike. There are 14 annotated points of interest along the trail, including descriptions of birds and plants that might be seen in the area and a pointer to some ancient Fremont Pictographs on the far wall of the canyon. From one portion of the trail we could see the original US-12 road construction, now below the current road. The scents of evening primrose and spiderwort clumps were an unexpected treat in this dry environment. After 3 miles, at the end of the trail and the end of the canyon was the 176 ft waterfall cascading into a lovely, sandy-bottomed pool deep enough for swimming. At 8:30 in the morning much of the trail was still cool and shady. Along the trail we spotted a hawk. We think it was a Cooper's Hawk. We saw several trout in the creek, spotted towhees and a hummingbird hovering over the pond in the spray of the Falls. When we arrived one other couple was just putting on their shoes to leave. We had this lovely cool place to ourselves while we ate lunch and waded in the water. Just as we were putting on our shoes another couple arrived. They had only a short period of solitude. As we hiked back we passed at least 25 people on their way to the Falls. We were back at the trailhead by 11:00. Later we talked to people who had not started their hike until 11:30. They confirmed that, in fact, the hike was brutally hot for them; so much so that they suffered mild heat exhaustion.