|Guide||♦||4 Triplogs||0 Topics|
Upper Calf Creek Falls, while not as spectacular and high as the lower falls, are a must-see if in the Escalante area. The hike to them is short and comfortable in terms of cumulative ascent. The falls are nice, but their real importance as a destination derives from the pools and wetlands above the falls. Allow some time to explore at least a few hundred feet upstream of the falls to fully appreciate the uniqueness of this remarkable place.
Lower Calf Creek Falls is easy to find and well enjoyed based on the number of people who hike to it from the highly popular campground of the same name. However, the upper falls are almost hidden by comparison, and you might even have the trail to yourself. The trailhead is off the magnificent Utah Hwy 12, another 4 miles to the north. Be prepared for a steep start and the occasional skating on dusty slickrock. Take it slow along here so as not to lose your footing. There are numerous cairns (if the fanatical purists haven’t knocked them down) to guide you across that stretch. The rest is well marked and relatively easy. If you can manage 100 feet down or so, you should be ok since the worst part is the first 100 yards. Good shoes are a must; don’t try this in sandals. As noted above, don’t just stop and look at the falls. Go upstream and enjoy the flowing water and wetlands, which are a real treat. You’d have to be pretty jaded not to enjoy this desert oasis.
Getting down to below the falls is doable, but not without risk. There appears to be a scramble route beginning about where my track departs from the down portion, but I did not try it since I was by myself (and my wife was waiting in a hot car at the top). Anyway, the best part is above the falls, which is easy to navigate.
Finding the Trailhead
This is the reason I’m writing the guide. There is absolutely no sign or marker at the Hwy 12 turnoff for the trailhead. As you’re going north, keep looking for a left turn on a dirt road. The coordinates for the turn are 12S 461627, 4190254 (37.8589, -111.4362). The parking lot, which would hold a dozen cars or more, is 0.1 miles in and west.
A Side Note
If you haven’t availed yourself of the near-religious experience of driving Hwy 12 between the turnoff south of Panguitch and Capitol Reef NP, please do so. If there is a prettier and more rewarding scenic drive anywhere, I’ve yet to see it. Stopping to hike the Lower and Upper Calf Creek Falls along the way is the icing on the cake.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.