April 13, 2009
Toadstool Trail is found near Paria, Utah. The trailhead isn't well marked and you have to know where you're going to find it. Actually getting to the toadstool formations requires a walk about 1.5 miles (3 km) down a dry gorge, along a rough trail. But when you arrive it's a "Wow" experience -- some of the most amazing formations I've ever seen. The "toadstools" are referred to as hoodoos, which take shape when a hard rock layer overlays softer, more easily-eroded material; in this case red sandstone. These hoodoos can be more than 40 ft (a dozen meters) high. Though rainfall is often sparse in regions where hoodoos occur, when it does rains, the harder cap rock protects the sediments immediately underlying it. Sediments further away from the cap's protection are more prone to erosion. After many years of exposure to wind and rain, a capped column over a skinny stalk may be all that remains.