Poison Spider Mesa to the Portal Trail

Moab, Utah

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4 Reviews
4 out of 5
This technically and physically difficult ride can be done as a loop or as an out-and-back, with a turnaround point at a beautiful arch or at the rim overlooking Moab Valley a few more miles to the north. The trek starts with a relentless climb over little babyheads, leads through areas of deep sand and technical bedrock, then eventually flattens out into a ledgy romp. After some sandy curves and a bit of confusing route finding you are presented with some outrageously steep slickrock knobs that are a blast to ride for advanced cyclists. Once on the slickrock the ride can be freeformed by those with good navigating skills, or you can follow the trail markings that appear as little jeeps. Keeping the jeeps oriented in the same direction is the secret to following the trail out to the rim. At any point you may also simply turn around and go back the way you came in. Trail Surface: 4WD doubletrack, slickrock, and extremely technical and dangerous singletrack, if you choose to take the Portal Trail option. Loose rock, stream worn rocks up to the size of babyheads, deep sand, slickrock, hardpack to loose sedimentary soil, and bedrock ledges on a classic technical 4WD track.
Mountain Biking Moab

DESCRIPTION FROM:

Mountain Biking Moab

by Lee Bridgers (Falcon Guides)

This technically and physically difficult ride can be done as a loop or as an out-and-back, with a turnaround point at a beautiful arch or at the rim overlooking Moab Valley a few more miles to the north. The trek starts with a relentless climb over little babyheads, leads through areas of deep sand and technical bedrock, then eventually flattens out into a ledgy romp. After some sandy curves and a bit of confusing route finding you are presented with some outrageously steep slickrock knobs that are a blast to ride for advanced cyclists.

Once on the slickrock the ride can be freeformed by those with good navigating skills, or you can follow the trail markings that appear as little jeeps. Keeping the jeeps oriented in the same direction is the secret to following the trail out to the rim. At any point you may also simply turn around and go back the way you came in. Trail Surface: 4WD doubletrack, slickrock, and extremely technical and dangerous singletrack, if you choose to take the Portal Trail option. Loose rock, stream worn rocks up to the size of babyheads, deep sand, slickrock, hardpack to loose sedimentary soil, and bedrock ledges on a classic technical 4WD track.

©  Lee Bridgers/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Activity Type: Mountain Biking
Nearby City: Moab
Distance: 12.8
Elevation Gain: 2,268 feet
Trail Type: Loop/Lollipop
Technical Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Physical Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Duration: 3-6 hours
Season: Year-round but best spring & fall
Trailhead Elevation: 4,550 feet
Top Elevation: 5,400 feet
Local Contacts: Moab Bike Patrol, c/o BLM, 435-259-2196
Local Maps: USGS Moab; Moab East Trail Map; Moab Recreation Map.
Driving Directions: Directions to Poison Spider Mesa to the Portal Trail

Recent Trail Reviews

5/3/2004
0

Please note that the book and eTrail for this ride have the wrong elevation profile (it's for another ride in the book).


4/30/2004
0

This is a fantastic ride. The jeep road that leads to the mesa is fun and challenging at times. The mesa at the top includes some really fun slickrock sections. You can do this ride as an out and back or as a loop by desending the Portal Trail. Much of the Portal Trail is not ridable, so I highly recommend doing this as an out and back. Use the rim as your turn around point, if if you want to get a sense of what the Portal Trail is like, ride the first half mile or so, then turn around and ride back the same way you came.


10/23/2002
0

The Poison Spider Mesa trail has several fun sections, but they are short and the trail has a bit too much sand and gravel road for my liking. I would actually give it a better rating compared to trails nationwide, but in Moab there are many other trails that I prefer. Like most trails in Moab, Poison Spider has a wonderful lookout point from the arch at the top, and has some wonderful slickrock sections to play on. The Portal Trail section is definitely worth doing for advanced riders who don''t mind walking a bit - the view is incredible and it''s amazing that someone actually thought to build a trail there. There are definitely spots that everyone should get off and walk due to exposure, and I would describe the bottom half of the trail as "rubble". Very challenging, but fun, especially if you have enough suspension. Next time I would definitely use my flat pedals and rubber soled shoes for this trail. Not recommended if you have a serious fear of heights, (or a serious lack of fear and think you have to ride the whole thing no matter what...)


6/30/2000
0

The trail description above is fairly accurate but as most book and map descriptions it leaves a bit of good info out. The day we rode this trail it was very dry. We found a bit more sand than expected. The sand is ridable of course but not without conciderable effort. We stopped at the Arch and hung out for a while. The senery from there makes the ride up there well worth while. From here to the Portal trail though is a different story. If you are not interested in riding this trail as a loop connecting with the Portal trail the it best to turn around here. There's not much to see between the Arch and the Portal trail and you run into alot of sand. Now the part about the Portal trail. Most of the descriptions caution about big exposures and very narrow trail such that you cannot even hike beside your bike. Well there are big exposure and some very dangerous narrow single track on this trail. However, we found that if you encounter a section that you did not feel confortable riding that you could hike that section. Not to make light of the trail dangers. At the time of our ride the sign indicated three people have died trying to ride a certain section of this trail. So it definatly is not for the faint at heart. We enjoyed the trail except the down hill part. We were looking foward to some fun technical down hill. Here we had a lot of hike a bike because of huge rocks. A good portion not ridable by almost all, even experienced riders in my opion. Yes, you long travel guys may be able to do some of it but I think that even with the 6+ travel bikes you would find yourself hiking 30-40% of the down hill. Overall I'm glad we rode the loop just once. I would ride Poision Spider again but, I would turn around at the arch and head back enjoying the down hill back the way we came.



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Apr 2018