Around here, you really can’t go wrong with finding a great place to hike. Find a designated trail, or park your car just about anywhere along the road and take your own wanderlust journey through the desert. However, no matter where the day takes you, make sure to always have the proper gear, enough water and extra food.
A few day hikes we highly suggest:
Lower Calf Creek: 5.5 miles round-trip, easy to moderate
Definitely the most popular hike in the area. Enjoy mineral-streaked cliffs of Navajo Sandstone, beaver ponds and prehistoric rock sites all alongside the creek. End your journey with a 126-foot high waterfall and sit back and enjoy a snack with a view.
How to get there from the Ranch: Turn right onto Hell’s Backbone Road towards Hwy 12. Turn right (south) onto Hwy 12 (south) and head approximately 11 miles. On your right will be the clearly marked turnoff to the Calf Creek Recreation Area with a clearly visible campground. The trail-head starts at the campground. Make sure to grab a trail map here as there are many points of interest along the way.
Escalante River to Natural Bridge (Arch): 3.2 miles round-trip, easy
This hike is not only one of the most beautiful parts of the 85-mile long canyon, it is also the easiest to reach, with friendly terrain unencumbered by dense brush thickets and boulder fields. Located between Boulder and Escalante, this easy trail crosses the Escalante River four times before reaching it’s destination of Natural Bridge.
How to get there from the Ranch: Turn right onto Hell’s Backbone Road and head back toward Hwy 12. Turn right onto Hwy 12 (south) and head approximately 13 miles. One the right you will see a green sign for “Escalante River” in front of a parking lot. Pick up the trail heading south. You will cross the river several times along the way, so be prepared with proper footwear. The first crossing is about 150 ft. from the parking lot. From the trail-head, take the right fork and follow the trail upstream into the canyon.
Season: Spring/Summer(April-June), and late Fall (mid-September-November)
Boulder Mail Trail: Up to 16 miles (can go as far as you like)
A great in-and-out hike that traverses the heart of Box-Death Hollow wilderness. The Mail Trail is one of the best slick rock routes in all of the Southwest. Walk along a juniper covered plateau as you follow the route of the old mail trail, along which the telegraph line is still visible, between the towns of Boulder and Escalante.
How to get there from the Ranch: Turn right onto Hell’s Backbone Road and head back towards Hwy 12. At the end of Hell’s Backbone Road, near the green dumpsters, look to your right. Follow the dirt road there, which is short but rough, and cross the Boulder Airstrip (and UFO landing site). Parking is available just after the road crosses the airstrip. The trail now leaves directly from the parking area. A section of the road is littered with boulders; you will need to cross these to get to the trail-head. If you do not have clearance, park your car down the road and head back to the trail-head sign.
Season: Spring/early summer (April-June), late fall (mid-September-November)
To make sure you’re prepared while on your desert adventure, be sure to check out the guide below as to what to bring to have a safe and wonderful trip!
Southwest Guide Books