Tuesday – October 28, 2014
Lower Calf Creek Falls
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
We awoke to a cool, sunny morning here at the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park Campground. The temperature was in the low forties with the forecast to be in the lower sixties today. Perfect weather for a hike!
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was established by Presidential Proclamation in 1996 when it became the Bureau of Land Management’s first national monument. Spanning nearly 1.9 million acres of America’s public lands, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is a fantastic outdoor laboratory offering insight into what sustains, maintains, and explains our world.
We visited the BLM Visitor Center in Escalante to secure information on day hikes within the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. They have some nice exhibits, including a collection of butterflies and a collection of bees. A BLM ranger provided us with a list of 10 trails to hike, and suggested we try the Lower Calf Creek Falls trail.
Our decision made, we arrived at the Calf Creek campground at 12:00 p.m. The campground is located on Scenic Byway 12, 15 miles east of Escalante. This is the trailhead for the Lower Calf Creek Falls trail.
Calf Creek Falls is one of the most well known and unique features in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The trail follows Calf Creek to the 126 foot high lower falls. The hike is posted as 6 miles, round trip, and should take the average hiker 3 to 4 hours to complete.
The Calf Creek Falls trail presents the hiker with magnificent views of the surrounding canyons and rainbow trout darting about in the crystal clear water flowing through the Calf Creek. Perched high above on canyon ledges are several granaries built by the ancient Fremont Culture which inhabited Utah from A.D. 700 to 1300.
Rainbow trout are abundant in the crystal clear water.
Across one canyon, near the bottom of a smooth cliff wall, are three large figures painted with red pigment. With their trapezoidal shape, depictions of arms and legs, and elaborate head dresses, these images are typical of Fremont-style rock art.
We could hear the Calf Creek Falls before we could see them. As we came around a curve on the trail we were presented with an amazing view of massive amounts of water cascading down the wall of the canyon. As we approached the falls, we noticed a distinct change in the temperature. Mist from the falls and shade from canyon walls keep the temperature cooler. Scarlet monkey flower, maiden-hair fern, and Easter flower were growing near seeps in the cliff walls.
Sharon and I were all alone in this magical place, it was truly a spiritual experience.
Calf Creek Falls trail proved to be a moderately strenuous hike, for us. Segments of the trail were steep, rocky, narrow, and filled with loose sand. Negotiating our way through the rocky and sandy segments was the most challenging. We finished the hike in just a little under four hours. Sharon’s FitBit, GPS pedometer showed we had hiked 8.39 miles.
Tomorrow another adventure begins.