The fond memories I have of that day trip in May 2019. We started out with breakfast in Torrey, Utah at a great coffee shop and headed straight down scenic Highway 12. And this is where the not well planned business begins. We thought we were just going to drive as much of Highway 12 as we could or wanted to and then come back to Torrey; perhaps locating something we would want to come back to the next day.
It didn’t quite work that way.
We didn’t bring what we normally would have brought with us while exploring and hiking in Capitol Reef National Park; meaning not enough water and no snacks. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Calf Creek Falls is a campground and hiking trail that leads to the lower 130 foot high water fall with a swimming hole. The upper falls are 88 feet high. The area gets its name – Calf Creek – from it’s history of having once been a natural pen for calves in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. It was fairly unknown until the area became the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument under the Clinton administration. It’s pretty well known now.
There is a fee for parking and overnight camping with the camp sites being on a smaller scale than some you may be familiar with without any hookups for utilities. There were no big campers present and the sites were primarily being used by people who were using tents, their vehicles or small campers.
There was a suspension bridge that went over the creek that was very scenic and afforded opportunities for great photos and great mischief. How can a bridge be mischievous you say? Try standing on the middle of it setting up a shot when a certain DH decides to jump up and down on it making it wiggle and sway.
Words were said and not of the G variety either!
The trail is listed as a moderate hike that takes you through beautiful scenery, Navajo sandstone cliffs, a beaver pond and rock art ending at the lower and upper falls. The round trip hike is just short of six miles. We didn’t make it to the falls or the beaver pond sadly.
Remember that bit about not planning well for it? Even if the temperatures aren’t that high ( it was a pleasant sunny warm day) not bringing enough water with you on a hike, in the sun, in an upper elevation is not a good idea and a potentially dangerous one.
Even so, the length of the trail we were able to traverse before deciding it was best to head back to the parking lot was beautiful. It was quite the contrast from having been hiking in a rocky canyon the day before to hiking a beautiful trail with a cold stream running alongside and many varieties of plants, trees and flowers accompanied by a few lizards.
I am such a city girl who is slowly converting to an outdoorsy one but when I saw this “drinking water” heading out on the trail I was hesitant to partake of it’s offer. Rest assured that when we came back from our shortened hike I made a beeline for it after watching other hikers and campers use it. I was thirsty!
That evening back in Torrey I inhaled an entire pizza by myself with some huckleberry ice cream as a chaser; I had worked up a bit of an appetite. I’d really love to go back to Utah and explore more of the sites and hikes to see on Highway 12; the areas that aren’t so crowded with visitors. And I definitely want to try and finish the hike to the falls at Calf Creek but better prepared this time. I have an ND filter now!
Read more about Calf Creek, visiting the area and other things to see and do here.