The hike to Lower Calf Creek Falls is, for many people, the highlight of their first trip to the Escalante area. It's the dazzling enticement that brings people back for longer and more remote hiking trips.
From the trailhead and park just off Highway 12, the trail winds between high cliffs of Navajo sandstone streaked with desert varnish, where you'll see beaver ponds, Native American ruins and pictographs, and the misty 126-foot-high Lower Calf Creek Falls.
A brochure available at the trailhead next to the campground identifies many of the desert and riparian plant species along the way. The round-trip is 5.5 miles with only a slight gain in elevation; bring water and perhaps a lunch. Summer temperatures can soar, but the falls and the crystal-clear pool beneath stay cool. Sheer cliffs block travel farther upstream.
Calf Creek Campground, near the road, has 13 sites with drinking water early April-late October ($7). Reserve group sites through the Escalante visitor center.