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A short, steep trail over slickrock leading to a refreshing waterfall and pool.


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Map Key

1.9

Miles

3.1

KM

Out and Back

6,489' 1,978 m

High

5,930' 1,807 m

Low

558' 170 m

Up

559' 170 m

Down

11%

Avg Grade (6°)

47%

Max Grade (25°)

Dogs Off-leash

Features River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall

Overview

The lesser-traveled alternative to Lower Calf Creek Falls, this is an open desert hike on trail and slickrock to a hidden waterfall and refreshing swimming hole.

Description

From the trailhead, descend steeply over slickrock, passing rounded basalt boulders that erupted from the Boulder Mountain volcanic area around 20 million years ago. They were transported to Calf Creek by huge debris flows and floods traveling down the valley.

After an initial descent and contemplating these boulders, the trail becomes gentler for a stretch, and goes through a thin forest of juniper and pinyon trees. The trail surface is a mix of sandstone, sand, and dirt. Occasionally you may spot a cairn to help guide the way across bare slickrock.

Once the trail meets the top of the inner canyon, the Upper Calf Creek Falls Overlook Trail forks to the right, and follows the rim to an elevated view of the falls. Take this side trip if you want, or stay on the main trail to the left, and descend steeply towards the oasis of Calf Creek.

The trail ends at a small pool and beautiful waterfall, surrounded by seasonally lush grasses and cottonwood trees. Hanging gardens of ferns and mosses grow from the walls where water seeps perennially through the sandstone. On a hot day you'll want to enjoy a cold dip in the pool and relax in the shade of the canyon. Be sure you have extra drinking water and sun protection for the uphill hike back out.

History & Background

The basalt boulders originated in lava flows approximately 20 million years ago northwest of Boulder. Geologists long thought the boulders had moved from Boulder Mountain in Ice-Age glaciers and streams that carried the rocks down valley. Recent studies show that the glaciers were small, and the streams lacked the power to move boulders nine feet or more in diameter such as those found around Fruita and Capitol Reef.

As it turns out, large landslides occurred on the slopes of Boulder and Thousand Lakes Mountains, and flowed into the heads of the Fremont and Escalante Rivers. Some debris flows were liquid enough to move for tens of miles down canyons like wet cement in a chute. Such dense flow can raft large boulders like these, and such is the origin of the black rocks that now mantle the slopes in the valley.

Contacts

Shared By:

Sarah Baker with improvements by Jesse Weber

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 16 votes

#1357

Overall
  4.3 from 16 votes
5 Star
56%
4 Star
31%
3 Star
6%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
6%
Recommended Route Rankings

#101

in Utah

#1,357

Overall
5 Views Last Month
2,010 Since Mar 29, 2016
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

0%
0%
29%
21%
43%
7%

Photos

View down into Calf Creek Canyon.
Apr 27, 2016 near Loa, UT
Upper Calf Creek Falls. with permission from G Eaton
May 9, 2016 near Loa, UT
View of the falls.
Apr 7, 2023 near Escalante, UT
Calf Creek below the falls
Apr 7, 2023 near Escalante, UT
View of the falls from the creek.
Apr 7, 2023 near Escalante, UT
One of the small pools just above the waterfall.
Jun 11, 2017 near Escalante, UT
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Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Unknown
Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Apr 7, 2023
Stewart Carnes
Jun 7, 2021
Kevin F
May 19, 2021
Atsuko Ohtake
Apr 3, 2021
Gary L
Steep!!!!! 1.5mi
Mar 21, 2020
Dan Moody
2.5mi
Sep 14, 2019
Will Schott
Jul 22, 2019
Doug Price
tough trail with very steep beginning and end. beautiful pools at destination 2mi — 11h 42m
Apr 26, 2019
Pritha Golden
1mi — 9h 44m
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