There are waterfalls worth hiking to and there are falls worth driving four hours, hiking through deep sand, and dodging flying caterpillars to get to. Lower Calf Creek is one of these. The only maintained trail and campground in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, this trail is already worthwhile before you even get out of your car; the country is that jaw dropping.
If you drive in from the Boulder direction, the road follows the edge of sheer red rock cliffs down to the river below. I can only assume the same group who carved the Hole in the Rock Trail first formed this road because only those commanded by God would dare build a path down these cliffs.
The trail itself isn’t all that tough. The hike begins at Lower Calf Creek campground and doesn’t have a lot of elevation gain. The biggest challenge on the trail is the occasional patches of sand to hike through.
One fun feature the day I hiked it was the presence of little caterpillars everywhere. And when I say everywhere, I mean my hair, down my shirt. I could’ve used a mini machete to break through the hundreds hanging off the cottonwood trees. This was the spring so I can only imagine the summer will provide hikers with lots of little butterflies.
The hike is just over six miles round trip and you can feel the coolness of the waterfall half mile before you get to it. The water is so clear I could watch trout swim out of the bottom of the pond and down the creek. Bring a swimsuit if it’s a hot day and cool off. The water drops out of sight only about ten feet out.