After a rainy weekend, Monday dawned with clear skies and warmer temperatures. So we took advantage of the nice weather and drove south on UT-12 (one of the most scenic roads we’ve seen) over Boulder Mountain to hike the Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail. The road up over the mountain reaches 9600 feet of elevation, so there is still plenty of snow around.
A few miles south of the little town of Boulder the road goes over a huge area of slickrock. At one point the road goes across a narrow fin with steep drops on either side. The photo below shows that narrow section but doesn’t begin to show the steep drops on either side.
Eleven miles south of Boulder is the turn off for the Lower Calf Creek Recreation Area, which has a small campground, a parking area for day use, and the trailhead for the Lower Calf Creek Falls Trail.
The trail is about 6.5 miles roundtrip and is fairly flat, as it runs along the creek.
A trail guide pamphlet is available at the trailhead. It gives information on interesting spots along the trail identified by numbered markers. One of the spots is a granary left by ancient Fremont people who inhabited the area from 700 to 1300. We needed binoculars to spot it, as it is quite high up on a rock wall.
We have no idea how people got up there to store their grain.
A mile or so further up the trail we came to a spot where three large figures are painted on the rock wall with red pigment. These images are typical of Fremont-style rock art with their trapezoidal shape, depictions of arms and legs, and elaborate head dresses.
The trail ends at the base of a beautiful high waterfall.
We sat for a while next to the pool at the base of the falls and enjoyed lunch with the cool mist from the falls keeping us comfortable. We didn’t test it but the water had to be very cold. But one man must have felt the need to demonstrate his courage (or stupidity) by taking a dip in the frigid water.
We returned back to the trailhead and drove a few miles back north on UT-12. About five miles south of Boulder we turned west on to Hell’s Backbone Road. Hell’s Backbone Road is a 38-mile gravel road that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, and connects the towns of Boulder and Escalante. Fourteen miles up the road is Hell’s Backbone Bridge, which we had heard about and wanted to visit. A 1,500-foot drop is on either side of the short span. Near the bridge are spectacular views of the Box-Death Hollow Wilderness.
From the bridge we could look down below and see a portion of the road. On the return trip back down we found that spot and stopped to look up at the bridge above us.
Returning to UT-12 we continued driving north to Boulder, where we planned to have dinner at the Hell’s Backbone Grill, a gourmet restaurant which is on the grounds of the Boulder Mountain Lodge.
The grill serves food with vegetables from their own no-harm organic farm, and Boulder-raised grass-fed local lamb and beef. Our friends, Larry and Annette, took us to this restaurant three years ago and this is our third visit. We both had the Spicy Cowgal Chipotle Meatloaf, which was outstanding!
The drive back over Boulder Mountain just before sunset provided beautiful vistas of the mountains and valleys to the east.
And that concluded another outstanding adventure in central Utah. It’s a tough life but somebody has to live it!