Lower Calf Creek Falls Hike in Escalante, Utah
Are you looking for a photogenic classic Utah day hike? The Lower Calf Creek Falls hike in Escalante is one of Utah’s hidden gems and the scenery will absolutely blow you away! This trail is a true hikers paradise, offering stunning bright red and orange landscapes the entire way to the refreshing waterfall at the end.
You will hike along a well-maintained trail beside Calf Creek, surrounded by towering red cliffs and ancient rock formations. The Lower Calf Creek Falls trail is not only surrounded by red rocks, but also lush greenery. We couldn’t believe our eyes as we were hiking along and absolutely could not stop taking photos!
This hiking adventure is suitable for hikers of all different experience levels, making it the perfect choice for well everyone! It is also dog friendly but make sure you protect your pup’s feet as the sand can get quite hot. We saw more brand new puppies on this trail than we have ever seen on any other trail!
This guide will tell you everything you need to know to hike the Lower Calf Creek Falls trail, including what you should bring, details on park permits, whether you can swim in the waterfall and when is the best time to go.
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Distance: 10.2km / 6.33 miles out and back
Elevation Gain: 270m / 855 ft
Time: 2.5-3.5 hours
Dogs allowed: Yes
Toilets: Yes, at the trailhead
From Salt Lake City: 4.5 hours
📍 Where is the Lower Calf Creek Falls Hike located?
The Lower Calf Creek Falls Hike is located in Escalante / Boulder which is around a 4.5 hour drive from Salt Lake City and a 20 minute drive from Escalante town. We did this hike after spending time in Capital Reef National Park as part of our 7 day Utah Road Trip.
Click here to open the map in Google Maps!
How to Get to the Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail by Car
From Escalante tot he Lower Calf Creek Falls trailhead, it is a 20 minute drive. You will need to take the UT-12 E all of the way to Calf Creek where you will turn left directly into the parking lot. There should be a park ranger as you turn in checking for National Parks Passes and selling day passes.
How to get to the Lower Calf Creek Falls Trailhead Without a Car
Unfortunately, there is no public transport available from Escalante to Calf Creek so you will need a rental car. We like to use Rentalcar.com to compare all of the rental companies prices.
Finding the Trailhead
The Lower Calf Creek Falls Trailhead is located through the parking lot. First you will need to walk up the trail past the Calf Creek campsites and after a couple of minutes, find the trailhead with a sign in and out book.
In the parking lot, there are toilets but no running water so make sure you bring along your own hand sanitiser. There are also no trash cans available at the trailhead or in the parking lot which we found strange as it is a paid parking lot. Make sure you pack out all your trash with you.
🕐 How Long Does it Take to Hike the Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail
We spent a little over 3 hours in total, including the time we spent eating our lunch and taking photos at the waterfall. Our total moving time was 2.5 hours and on average it takes people 2.5 – 3.5 hours to complete the hike.
🥾 How Hard is the Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail
The Lower Calf Creek Falls hike is easy – moderate in difficulty. The hardest part of the hike is quite honestly the heat! The large portion of the trail will also require you to walk through sand, which, if you have ever tried walking or running along a beach, you will know that this adds a level of difficulty.
We both found that the beauty surrounding us on the trail seemed to distract us from the heat and the sand and the hike went by much faster than we were expecting.
🐶 Can Dogs do the Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail
Dogs are allowed to do the Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail on a leash and it is an EXTREMELY popular dog trail. If you don’t like dogs, don’t do this trail. Although who doesn’t like dogs! We saw a lot of puppies on the trail so it must be a good walk training trail?
If you do decide to do the Lower Calf Creek Falls hike with your dog, make sure you have something to protect their feet from the hot sand as it gets HOT. There was a sign at the trailhead also recommending that dogs wear a cooling vest on this trail which I thought sounded quite nice and that perhaps people should also wear a cooling vest. 😄
🕐 When is the Best Time to Hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls?
If you are hiking this trail during any month except Winter, I highly recommend starting early before the sun gets too hot. It is also a really popular trail so the earlier you start the more chance you have of getting the waterfall to yourself.
We hiked the Lower Calf Creek Falls trail in early April (Spring). It was cool in the morning but as soon as the sun began heating up the rocks surrounding the trail, it got extremely hot and we wished that we had brought our swimmers!
🏊♀️ Swimming in the Waterfall
Yes! You can take a dip in the waterfall! The trail is quite exposed and gets extremely hot so you will regret it if you don’t bring your swimsuit. Wear waterproof sunscreen when swimming to minimize water contamination.
At the waterfall, there are also a number of trees that you can sit and rest under. We decided to eat our lunch under the trees and as it was early April, the cold mist from the waterfall cooled the air right down.
🥾 The Lower Calf Creek Falls Hiking Trail
The entire trail is very well maintained and easy to follow but also quite exposed to the sun so make sure you bring along a good hat and sunscreen. You will begin your hike with a very small climb. Throughout the hike you will be walking on a mix of rockface, dirt and sand.
The trail goes up and down a little throughout the hike but the elevation is not extreme so it is pretty mild.
While hiking, don’t forget to look up and marvel at the incredible colourful sandstone all around you and also look out for the petroglyphs. If you pick up a brochure in the parking lot, this will point out where to find them.
Soon you will notice that you have begun walking alongside a creek that is provide a bit of relief from the hot sun. This is Calf Creek and you will continue to follow it to the falls. We were impressed by how clear the water in the creek was. It looked very inviting!
Just when I felt like I needed to sit down in the shade and take a break from the heat, I caught a glimpse of Lower Calf Creek Falls. Excitedly, we walked faster and the falls emerged through the trees.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. Lower Calf Creek Falls was so much more magnificent and huge than I expected it to be!
🎫 National Park Entry and Hiking Permits
Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument is managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) who charge a $5 entry fee for the Lower Calf Creek Falls hike. Bring cash for this. They will however, also accept a national parks pass if you have one.
If you are planning on visiting a few of the US national parks over the course of a year, I definitely recommend purchasing an America the Beautiful Annual Pass which is only $80 and well worth it!
🌲 Leave No Trace
The 7 Leave No Trace principles are important to be aware of to help keep places like Lower Calf Creek Falls beautiful. Nature is there for us to enjoy but also respect and leave the way we found it but as well as respecting nature, we should also be respecting and treating each other with nothing but kindness. To remind yourself of the 7 Leave No Trace principles, check out the LNT website.
🙋♀️ Which is Better – Lower or Upper Calf Creek Falls?
Both Lower and Upper Calf Creek Falls are both beautiful natural attractions and each have their own charm. We only had time for one hike while we were in Escalante and we chose the Lower Falls because of the photos we had seen of it.
Lower Calf Creek Falls is the more well-known and popular of the two. It features a stunning 126-foot cascading waterfall with a large pool at its base. The hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls is 10.2km / 6.33 miles return.
Upper Calf Creek Falls, on the other hand, is a lesser-known and less crowded destination. It is a smaller waterfall, measuring about 88 feet in height. The hike to Upper Calf Creek Falls is 3.4km / 2.1 miles return.
🛌 Where to Stay Nearby
There are loads of camping options available in the warmer months such as Calf Creek Campground, Escalante Heritage Center Campground and Canyons of Escalante RV Park.
There are also some amazing hotels in Escalante!
Ponderosa Inn is rustic but beautiful cabin accommodation that has rooms for 1 to up to 7 people!
Yonder Escalante Luxury Glamping
We would definitely have stayed here if it was available. It’s on my list for next time. Yonder has beautiful airstreams and dreamy cabins. The whole place looks like a dreamy version of an RV park!
Red Rock Ranch Log Cabin
If you have a large group, don’t miss out on this gorgeous log cabin!
⛺ Calf Creek Campground
Calf Creek Campground is located right at the entrance to the hiking trail so its a great place to stay if you want to start hiking early. The campground has 13 first-come, first-served campsites so you will need to arrive early to snag a site.
Sites are $15 per night.
Other Fun Things to do in the Area
Escalante and its surrounding areas has so much to do and is perfect if you love outdoor adventure! The Grand Staircase-Escalante is so much larger than the town and you could spend weeks hiking and exploring there!
Explore a Slot Canyon from Kanab
Go on a hiking tour through a slot canyon! This hike from Kanab takes you to the Peek-A-Boo Canyon of the Grand Staircase-Escalate area. Kanab is a around a 2 hour drive from Escalante, but if you want to add more onto your road trip I definitely recommend checking it out!
Hike the Big Horn Canyon Trail
Distance: 9.7km / 6 miles | Elevation: 116m / 380 ft | Time: 2 – 4 hours | Difficulty: Moderate
Bighorn Slot Canyon is one of the lesser popular canyons so if you are looking to get away from the crowds this is the hike for you! There are actually two awesome slot canyons to explore along this hike!
If you are spending some time in Escalante why not add another hike to your itinerary?
💭 Our Thoughts
Truthfully, before we arrived in Escalante, both Dave and I were afraid that we had made a huge mistake by adding a day to our itinerary so far away. We started thinking, how great can a waterfall hike be? But the Lower Calf Creek Falls hike completely blew us both away and exceeded our expectations!
We found this hike thanks to Haleigh from Where We Went Next who also has an amazing adventure blog! Go check her out!
You might also enjoy:
- Ultimate Utah 7 Day Road Trip from Salt Lake City
- Guide to the Fifth Water Hot Springs Trail, Utah
- Cassidy Arch Trail – A Must Do Hike in Capital Reef National Park
- How to Get to Moonscape Overlook in Utah
- Long Dong Silver Spire – One of Utah’s Hidden Gems
- How to Visit the Bentonite Hills in Utah
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