Poison Spider Trail

Grand County, Utah

Distance9.6mi
Elevation Gain3,048ft
Trailhead Elevation3,970ft
Top5,049ft
Elevation Min/Max3970/5049ft
Elevation Start/End3970/3970ft

Poison Spider Trail

Poison Spider Trail is a hiking, biking, and horse trail in Grand County, Utah. It is 9.6 miles long and begins at 3,970 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 19.2 miles with a total elevation gain of 3,048 feet. The Poison Spider Parking can be seen along the trail. Near the end of the trail is a viewpoint. This trail connects with the following: Portal and Golden Spike Trail.

Poison Spider Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"Few Moab-area rides are as visually rewarding and physically demanding as Poison Spider Mesa. The route affords astonishing vistas of Behind the Rocks, where an entourage of sandstone fins march in echelon toward the idyllically emplaced La Sal Mountains. From the rimmed-side viewing deck at Little Arch, the route’s goal, you toe the edge of the Portal where the nourishing Colorado River leaves Moab and slips between confining 600-foot-tall cliffs. In the distance, Arches National Park displays a wonderment of nature’s architectural talent. Poison Spider is renowned for its technical sections that will challenge the most resolute trail rider. A half dozen rock staircases require brute strength and unfaltering skills to master.

Near the turnaround, you can “rock out” to your heart’s delight on a ramp of naked Navajo Sandstone that will satisfy any slickrock purist. Although the route follows paint-on-rock markers, a short lapse of attentiveness may prompt an anxious voyage across nondescript lands rimmed by unscalable cliffs. Poison Spider Mesa is described here as a 12-mile, out-and-back route geared for strong intermediate riders. But expert riders can pursue a 12.7-mile loop by descending the infamous Portal Trail—a precarious path scratched into a 600-foot cliff."

"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."

"This is one of the most popular trails in Moab and is often combined with Golden Spike and Gold Bar Rim. Poison Spider Mesa is a fun-filled combination of challenging obstacles and incredible scenery. The second half of the trail passes by impressive Little Arch on the way to an outstanding overlook of the entire Moab area.

Mountain biking is extremely popular on this trail. Drive with caution and be courteous to bikers at all times. A classic hard-core trail with many challenging obstacles including tight switchbacks, high irregular ledges, steep slickrock climbs, and several tippy spots. Few stock vehicles can complete this trail without body damage. Vehicle modifications including differential lockers are highly recommended. Route-finding is relatively easy on the first half of Poison Spider Mesa but after the turn for Golden Spike, it becomes difficult."

"This 12-mile out-and-back (6 miles each way)—like Ride 21, Amasa Back—is a good choice to tackle if you’re new to Moab riding as a hint of what’s to come on legendary rides like the Slickrock and Porcupine Rim trails. Thanks largely to the inaugural climb, the ride is aerobically challenging but not a killer; meanwhile, the sand and slickrock ledges (including one that’s particularly memorable) offer some real technical challenges, but they don’t just keep coming at you, as is the case on some area rides.

Riding surfaces include sand, slickrock, and eroded and loose-surfaced four-wheel-drive road. There’s cactus, too, and the bite of the prickly pear can be severe for those who go down buns first.General location: Southwest of Moab on the opposite side of the Colorado River."

"An unforgettable ATV riding experience for those skilled enough to do it. A very popular Jeep, motorcycle and mountain bike trail that can get busy at peak times. Share the road and be courteous to everyone.

Trail is marked with white Jeep symbols (see photo), but it is still easy to get lost. Stay on marked trails at all times. Don’t miss arch at Waypoint 06. Follow signs to dinosaur tracks near parking lot. Take plenty of water and a good camera. Very difficult and dangerous. Many high rock ledges and tippy spots. For advanced riders only."

"This famous must-do trail is a technical, physical, and mental workout. Views of the Behind the Rocks fins set against the La Sals are an obvious photo op, as is Little Arch. The slickrock is massive, the sand annoying, and the Portal is downright dangerous. Its narrowest portion is about 3 feet wide with a 400-foot drop on the left and a rock wall on the right."

Poison Spider Trail Reviews

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5/3/2004
Please note that the book and eTrail for this ride have the wrong elevation profile (it's for another ride in the book).
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4/30/2004
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.
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10/23/2002
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...)
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3/28/2002
The start of this out & back (I'm not a good enough rider to even think about taking the Portal section back to Moab) is always a killer - up & up & up with some sand mixed in. I've always seen a fair amount of jeep traffic on this trail & enjoy watching them negotiate some of the drops. Once you get out on top though there are wonderful views & lots of slickrock to play on. And of course the ride back is downhill!
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5/8/2000
This trail is lame!! Nothing but sand, sand, and more sand. Then once you're through all the sand there is a big long jeep rd to get to a the slick rock. The slick rock is fun and all but not worth all the effort to get there. All so this trail leads out to a cliff that over looks the Colorado River and then there is a trail that heads down the cliff. This trail, all though it looks like fun, is the worst!! You'll end up walking the whole thing...Just head back the way you came. (OR DON'T GO AT ALL)
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3/22/2000
Sure, it's a long climb, but challenging. The reward is at the top and down the Portal Trail. Don't call yourself an "expert" if you have to walk most of it down. This is the way "also" is spelled if you don't know how.
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Poison Spider Trail Photos

Trail Information

Grand County
Nearby City
USGS Moab, Gold Bar Rim
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Sep 2018