Man looking over the north canyon rim and toadstool hoodoos.

There is no shortage of dramatic rock formations to be encountered along the border between Utah and Arizona. This is the home to Zion National Park, Lake Powell, and Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. But even outside the major parks of this area are little surprises to be found just off some country highways. Such is the case for the whimsical balancing rock formations of the Toadstool Hoodoos Trail.

Man standing next to a large red toadstool hoodoo.
Sizing up the first red toadstool hoodoo.
Overlook of the northern canyon rim and colorful rock formations along Toadstool Hoodoo Trail.
Overlook of the northern canyon rim and colorful rock formations.

About Toadstool Hoodoos

The Toadstool Hoodoos are part of the expansive Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, 45 minutes east of Kanab, Utah, off Highway 89. The trailhead is open year round though personal experience teaches that spring and fall are preferable times to visit.

Man looking over the north canyon rim and toadstool hoodoos.
Looking over the landscape.
Snowy view of Paria River Valley.
View of the Paria River Valley.

Toadstool Hoodoos Trailhead

We arrive at the trailhead in the dead of winter. The entrance is immediately off Highway 89. The dirt parking lot is visible from the highway but can still come as a surprise with little warning when traveling at highway speeds. While we see patches of snow along the highway on our approach, the dirt parking lot is thankfully dry and includes a couple of portapotties.

Avion C11 truck camper parked at the trailhead of Toadstool Hoodoos Trail.
Parked at the trailhead
Red sandstone toadstool hoodoo with a brilliant blue sky.
Towering over the landscape.

Hiking Toadstool Hoodoos Trail

The lot ends at a wire fence with an entry large enough for pedestrians and their dogs. While this may be a dog-friendly trail, it’s not quite as friendly to those trying to follow it. The trail is supposed to be a 1.5-mile, easy-to-moderate round-trip, following a wash headed northbound. But years of past hikers forging their own way makes it easy to wander off from the main route and wind up backtracking to navigate steep ascents and descents between the undulating sandstone terrain and the recently active wash. We may be in the desert, but melting snow has left certain patches muddy and surprisingly slippery.

Man hiking up a red sandstone wash with snow.
Hiking out of a muddy wash on the way to the toadstools.

North Rim Hoodoos

For all the mud that collects on our boots, it’s all worth it when we reach the toadstools along the northern rim of a small canyon. Some of these rock formations only reach our hips while others tower over our heads. It can be easy to conclude that you have reached the end at the first giant and red toadstool which is often the main picture used in descriptions of the trail. But following the wash further northwest leads to more hoodoos and a stunning view of Paria River Valley.

Red sandstone toadstool hoodoo rock formation.
The first of many toadstool hoodoos along the trial.

The End of the Trail

Since these formations are fragile, visitors are asked not to touch or climb them. This also makes the end of the trail pretty clear: there’s nowhere left to go without climbing. So, we turn around and return the way we came.

Couple standing at the edge of the Paria River Valley from Toadstool Hoodoo Trail.
Looking out over Paria River Valley.

Looking Back

Like many stops this winter, I can’t help but look forward to revisiting this trail in the spring or fall. But for all the mud and cold, the hike is worthwhile any time you can take it.

Lexi lives in a truck camper down by the river.

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