Updated: Jan 3
Trail Length: 6 miles round trip sandy and flat
Calf Creek Falls is one of the iconic trails of the canyons of the Escalante Drainage. The relatively simple trail wanders up a beautiful box canyon that ends in a 120ft waterfall that drops into a swimming hole.
From the town of Escalante, drive east towards Boulder and Torrey on highway 12. The road will soon descend into the Escalante Canyon where it will wind around for a few miles before crossing the Escalante River. About a mile past the Escalante River crossing there is a parking area for Calf Creek. Park and pay here.
The trail begins a bit down the way from the parking lot; so after parking follow the paved road for a few hundred feet until the trailhead shows up on the left. From here the trail is sandy with a variety of slick rock crossings for the 2.5 miles of its length. There are relatively few hills of note except the one that wraps around the large beaver dam complex. I think the total elevation change for the hike is like 120 ft, so essentially a flat trail. Even though the trail is fairly simple, it can be exceptionally hot in the summer months which can lead to issues.
I love this hike. It was my first love of the desert and is one I regularly return to. My last excursion was fall of 2022 and I had a blast. On my last visit, I was on a time crunch, so I quickly pounded out the trail in just a few hours. A few things I noticed this past go were a few more areas where large flooding events had deposited large amounts of sediment on the trail and a few new boulders, but that is to be expected through time. Overall people are still friendly on this trail and as long as you give each other space I think you will have a great time.
The water is very very cold as it is spring fed from up above. I recommend you take a quick dip while here, especially the summer months. In fact, if you don’t do that you missed out on a part of life.
A note on parking. If you arrive early enough the parking is not too bad, but by 10PM there is almost no parking anymore anywhere near the trail head. The unfortunate reality of this trails “Instagram worthiness” has resulted in a huge influx of hikers to the region and to this trail in specific. Even though it has been over crowded it can still be enjoyed by the simple grace of lack of parking.
If you want to hear my photographic take on the trail, head over to my main photography website and if you are interested in supporting this work please consider purchasing an image for your home.