Just down the road from the popular Lower Calf Creek Falls, the trail to the Upper Falls is a shorter but much more challenging hike.
The sand parking lot is just off of Highway 12, around mile marker 80. There are no signs, either on the highway or in the parking lot, but the trailhead for the Upper Calf Creek Falls Trail is just behind the parking lot.
Starting out, the trail plunges you almost straight away onto a slab of sandstone, and continues to descend pretty steadily toward the creek. Parts of it are sandy paths, but the majority is over rocky slabs.
The trail is marked out by small stacks of rocks, and at a few points it takes careful attention to follow it. I found myself backtracking a couple of times, despite keeping a close eye out for footprints and rock piles. For the most part, though, the trail isn’t too hard to follow.
Keep an eye out along the trail for some interesting plant life.
It’s only 1 mile out to the falls, so you come up on them fairly quickly. Calf Creek Waterfall is a cascade totaling 214 ft, with the upper falls reaching a height of 88ft. The trail winds down to the bottom of the waterfall. Another trail continues on to the pools at the top.
In late March, the water was pretty icy, but that didn’t deter a few of the hikers from plunging into the pools up there. In the summer, it would make a refreshing dip.
Allow 1.5 to 2 hours for the hike, depending on how much time you plan to spend playing around at the pools and the waterfall.
If you’re coming from Escalante, the turnoff to the trailhead is on the left side of Highway 12. Look for a dirt and gravel road about .7 miles past mile marker 80.
The parking lot is just off of the highway, and the road to it was easily passable in my 2 wheel drive sedan. If it were rainy or muddy, you might need a 4WD vehicle.
Camping isn’t permitted at the trailhead. Backcountry permits are required for overnight stays along the trail, and can be obtained at the trailhead.
No fees! Day use and overnight backcountry permits are all free.