First Time Hiking Calf Creek Falls Trail

When we were exploring Highway 12 we learned about a hike called Calf Creek Falls.  It was a six mile roundtrip hike with 126 feet high waterfall at the end.  As much as I love waterfalls I am generally cautious of hikes that are that long, especially those that involve waterfalls because there is usually elevation change.  Coming off our successful 850 yard elevation hike in Bryce and our successful 10 mile hike in Goblin Valley, I thought how bad could it be.  We scheduled a day to complete it.  Greg decided to take the day off though so the five of us went in two cars.

The campground where the trail head is, is pretty cool.  Only RV’s less than 25 feet can stay there though, so completely out for us. I tried to talk Cori into camping their in the Chinook though, but there is unfortunately no cell coverage at all in the canyon.

You can see the campground from Route 12

It’s nestled right at the base of the most beautiful red rocks

It costs $5 to park and then you hit the trail

According the the research this was a moderate hike with 250 foot elevation change.  The problem was the elevation change was net and in actually there was much more climbing than that.  I knew better, having learned from Nancy and Bill that elevation changes can be deceiving and as we walked up and then down and up again along the trail I knew I should have done more research.  It was also much hotter than we expected down in the canyon.  It was 20 degrees cooler in Torrey than at Calf’s Creek and despite stripping off layers we were all over dressed.  Lastly, despite being marked as a moderate hike the terrain was difficult.  It was either pretty rocky, requiring careful footing or worse sandy which none of us like.  Walking on sandy trails takes a ton more effort especially on a hot day.

We started at ground level.

Then headed up and then back down multiple times.

The trail was clearly marked except in this rocky section. We weren’t the only ones to go the wrong way and we had trouble both going out and coming back.

as you can see we climbed quite a bit above ground level and I was really wishing for a straight trail along the base of the cliffs by the end.

As hard as the trail was, and I do consider it hard, the sites along the way were beautiful, plus there was a nice guide pamphlet with marked places along the way.  I really like when we are on trails with markers and this one was clearly marked.

These are Gambel Oaks which I found interesting.

The dark vertical lines on the walls result from living organisms. The black lines are caused by humid conditions and the orange are caused by arid conditions which help scientists know what the weather was like. Fascinating.

The very best stop was at a cliff wall with three huge painted figures. They didn’t look huge because they were far away but they must have been life sized. We never would have seen those without the signpost to point them out.

They are in the upper left.


What they look like from the pamphlet.

The landmarks had the added benefit of helping us know how far we had to go because several of us were struggling.  For some reason this hike was much worse than any of the ones we had done prior and Cori and I in particular were struggling.  Finally we made our last descent into the valley though and that helped.  It was cooler for one thing, and there was a pretty stream running beside us.

Largish pond

I loved the horsetail all along the path. Really cool. We learned that pioneers used to use it to scrub pots and pans.

Deb was fascinated by the different kinds of trout in the streams. She saw three of the four different kinds in the area.

Finally we saw the waterfall and it was a beauty.  There were a ton of people down near it, but it was relatively easy to get good pictures.  The water was REALLY cold and my plans to soak my feet were abandoned although lots of the younger kids got in.

The four boys on the left stripped down and jumped in for about 1 minute before running out. Like I said cold!

Despite the people we got some nice pics

Deb, Cori and I. Gotta say I feel a little frumpy standing next to them 🙂

Overall, I liked the waterfall and was glad I got to see it, but to be honest I wouldn’t want to hike this again.  Going out was worse than coming in and with full afternoon sun in sections was even hotter. I felt like a whiner though when once again I saw young people carrying babies on their backs.  I can’t even imagine doing that as a young person and good for them.  We took lots of extra breaks on the way out just to make it and it was a struggle.   We were all relieved when the parking lot was sited and on the way home I told Lee I absolutely needed a day off.  We had been doing something every single day and it finally caught up to me, so I was taking a day off.  We both learned something from last years pace and Lee agreed.  That was nice.

Hiking with a baby!

At one of our many breaks Deb showed me this lizard, but when she let it go it jumped onto my breast and then jumped off of me. I screamed REALLY loud. Scared the crap out of me.

Lots of full sun on the way out.

On the way home we were able to get a clear picture of the valley from Route 12. Absolutely gorgeous.


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