A bit like the loop through Kodachrome State Park earlier in the day, Dixie National Forest is also overshadowed by the more famous national parks in its vicinity. The Pink Ledges Trail in the ed Canyon is one of the shorter and more popular trails in the park: “This hike is perfect for those who have a limited amount of time or don’t want anything too strenuous”. Which, in my case, makes it possible to do this loop on our drive from Bryce National Park to Zion National Park, while the rest of the family checks out the Visitor Information Centre.
I’m starting with the really short (0.3mi / 500m) Hoodoo Trail, which starts from the western end of the carpark, near the Visitor Information Centre. The fairly level trail doesn’t have much shade, despite passing under tall Douglas fir trees.
It provides a great view of the two prominent hoodoos in this area, hence the name of the trail. The red sandstone formations in Red Canyon are as dramatic as those of Bryce Canyon National Park – athough there are far less in number.
Pink Ledges Trail
You can do the Hoodoo Trail as a complete loop (which I did), or just do the short part of the trail which connects to the longer Pink Ledges Trail. The interpretive Pink Ledges loop walk has numbered posts along the way, which point out interesting features that the trail passes.
The trail heads towards some weathered rock formations, with caves that have been hollowed out by millions of years of wind and rain.
The trail ascends gently along the north side of the canyon on a well-formed path, with views of hoodoos and spires in most directions.
Post 5 on the Pink Ledges Trail points out the distant hoodoos: “the mystical and magical appearance of the rocks that make the Red Canyon famous. Hoodooes are columns, pinnacles or pillars of rock that have variable thickness and a totem pole shaped appearance. The formation of these hoodoos started nearly 10 million years ago with the relentless agents of weathering and erosion attacking the weaker layers leaving the more resistant layers in place”.
This is about the furthest point on the loop, after which the Pink Ledges Trail starts to gently descend.
Posts 6 and 7 describe two of the large trees that are found in Red Canyon: a large ponderosa pine tree (which has coarse, reddish brown bark) and a large Douglas fir (which has papery cones).
There’s one last, good view of the Red Canyon’s iconic totems near Post 8.
As the trail continues to gently descend, another post (12) points a scar or scratch in a pinyon pine, which is the result of a porcupine chewing the tree to feed.
The last “feature” (post 13) is the Podunk Guard Station – an example of a seasonal residence used by park rangers outside the winter season. This one was originally located along the Podunk Creek on the East Fork of the Sevier River.
It’s been a brisk, 25min walk along the Hoodoo Trail and Pink Ledges Trail – and a nice walk to stretch the legs on today’s drive through south-western USA.
Getting to Pink Ledges Trail
The Pink Ledges Trail starts near the Red Canyon Visitor Center, which is about 4 miles (6.4km) east on Utah Highway 12 from US Highway 89. It’s 15.4 miles (25km) or a 20min drive from Bryce.
The Dixie National Forest spans almost 2 million acres and stretches for nearly 170 miles (275km), making it the largest national forest in the state.