Utah arguably has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. In some of the state’s most remote areas, the landscape appears to be out of this world. Large open spaces and eccentric rock formations transport hikers into another land. It doesn’t take much to feel as though your hiking boots are trekking across Mars rather than Utah. Isolated from civilization and surrounded by mushroom-like boulders, the Toadstools takes the cake as one of the most dramatic other worldly experiences.
The Toadstool trail faces north and begins with a cattle gate. Slip through this into a long wash marked by pristine white sand and sprinkles of sagebrush. It doesn’t take long before hikers stumble upon the first of the hoodoos, then moments later find themselves surrounded. Hoodoos are tall spires of rock that extend from plateaus in the desert. In the case of the toadstool hoodoos, the majestic mushroom capped rock formations tower above as the wash opens up into a wider canyon. Imaginations are ignited by the vast toadstool garden, transporting hikers to a playground from another planet. Breathtaking visuals sweep through the canyon making it nearly impossible not to stand frozen in awe. Hikers often choose to veering to the left after the main bunch of rock formations, leading to another group of hoodoos in a small canyon alcove. The scenery certainly does not disappoint.
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As you make the trek, be sure to avoid stepping on the cryptobiotic soil. This is the hardened, tough looking soil crust. The thin layers are home to many organisms and the soil takes years to form. The rock formations are also fragile and should not be touched. They do however make for an incredible photo opp at any time of day. The morning sunrise casts pronounced shadows across the red and white sand, at night bursts of stars sparkle high above the towering hoodoos as the rock glows in the moonlight. After carefully romping around this out of space place, simply spin around and make your way back to the parking lot along the same trail.
The Toadstool trailhead and parking lot is located off of Highway 89, 45 miles east of Kanab, UT and 30 miles west of Page, AZ. The trail is about 1.7 miles roundtrip and is relatively flat, scoring an “easy” rating among most hikers. It allows dogs and can typically be completed within an hour. Like many hikes in the area, there is little shade and it is recommended to bring plenty of water and sunscreen. It is advised to avoid the path during the middle of the day in the summertime due to heat and sun. Early mornings and before dusk are ideal times to avoid crowds.
Written By Lauren Kehoe