Monday, October 3, 2011

Hiking to Paul Bunyan's Woodpile

Paul Bunyan's Woodpile

Many times on the way to Delta, Utah, we have passed the sign for Paul Bunyan's woodpile.  I have often wanted to stop and check it out, but the timing was never right.  So of course, when we decided to commit and actually see the woodpile this year, the sign was gone!  Yes, we made it all the way to Delta without seeing the sign for the turn-off to the woodpile.  However, a really helpful person at the Great Basin Museum in Delta steered us in the right direction, and we were able to find the right road. 

The "woodpile" is really a geologic formation.  Formed by igneous rock, it is a remnant of volcanic activity in this area of Utah, Juab county.  These columnar joints are quite fascinating, and do look like stacked wood from the right angle!  For a more detailed description of how this unique feature may have formed, click here.  Be aware that if you decide to hike to the woodpile and see it for yourself, you will first have to drive on a  dirt road, and then hike a not-so-marked trail.  DO NOT DO THIS IN WET WEATHER!  We are guessing the sign was removed as the road and trail do not seem like they are being maintained.  Try this at your own risk.  That being said, we DID manage the road in our trusty minivan.

Sign indicating 3 miles on the dirt road

Once you locate the turn-off, however, you will see this sign indicating you are on the right road.  If you are traveling north on Highway 6 from Delta, the dirt road is about 2 miles north of the turn-off to the Little Sahara sand dunes.  It is between mile markers 125 and 126.  You will only see the back side of a stop sign on the road.  Turn east, and drive carefully on this rutted, pitted dirt road.  If you don't see the trailhead sign, you are not on the right road.

When traveling west back to the main road, you can see the stop sign.
This is the good part of the dirt road!

Trail head with woodpile in the distance.

There is a parking area at the trailhead, but absolutely no services.  Bring plenty of water.  This hike is moderate.  On the day we went, it was hot, dry, and dusty.  Go through the cattle guard "gate" to begin the trail.  We had a hard time finding the trail, at times, and often found ourselves on cow paths.  However, since you can see where you are going, you can pick your way through the winding paths and head in the right direction.

Cactus on the trail--yes, Utah is a desert!

The book I looked in said this was a one-mile hike to the woodpile.  The Utah Geological Survey site indicated that it was 1/2 mile. The book was definitely more accurate!  Definitely allow 1 to 1-1/2 hours for a round trip, especially on a hot day.

Can you see the trail?  I couldn't!

This trail is not too steep until the last part.  If you find yourself plowing through scrub oak and ducking under trees (as I did), then you have missed the spot where a tree crosses the water and leads you to the real trail and switchbacks that go up to the woodpile.  My group did not find the switchbacks until they were on top of the woodpile.  However, the one advantage to scrambling up on your own is finding a wonderful little window that is not visible from the real trail.

The woodpile as seen from the trail.

The "window" at the top.

Overall, I am really glad I saw this geologic formation.  If I ever go back, I would choose a cooler day.

Igneous rock formations at Paul Bunyan's Woodpile

IF YOU GO: from Salt Lake City, head south on I-15, and then turn west on Highway 6 toward Eureka.  Stay on Highway 6 and look for the dirt road heading east between mile marker 125 and 126.  Follow the dirt road for 3 miles to the trailhead.

We saw this deer from the dirt road.

We didn't really encounter any cows on this trail, but we did see a deer as we headed back on the dirt road to Highway 6.

Winkolina at Paul Bunyan's Woodpile

Overall, it was a good hike with good company, even if we did it during a really hot part of the day!  Utah has many unique and wonderful geologic features, and I was glad to explore this one!


  1. I had so much fun hiking this one. Totally worth the sweat and the skinned knee!

  2. Replies
    1. Josh, the hike is about 1 mile from from the trail head to the woodpile formation. I would allow an hour to an hour and a half round trip for the hike. Thanks for stopping by the blog!