||Gold Bar 4x4 Trail
The classic Gold Bar Rim Trail is now called the Gold Bar 4x4. It takes you up ledges of Kayenta
sandstone to a viewpoint on the cliffs high above the entrance to the Moab
Valley. After leaving the Gemini Bridges road, the trail becomes advanced
technical, with a strenuous aerobic climb. The Gold Bar 4x4 itself
is an out-and-back to the overlook, 8.5 miles each way. See our other
pages for the Gold
Bar Singletrack and the Gold Bar Rim
looks east from the Gold Bar Rim. Just above the highway, rusty Moenkopi
skirts lie beneath brown and gray Chinle layers. The vertical cliffs are
Wingate sandstone. Photos by Bruce, May
|Because better trails have been developed in the area, the Gold Bar
4x4 Trail is now rarely done as a stand-alone ride by mountain bikers.
Pieces of the route can be part of the Rusty Nail,
Gold Bar ST, and Gold
Bar Rim rides. Gold Bar can also be one part of a long and brutal
point-to-point with shuttle, using the Golden Spike
Trail. You descend to
the Colorado on either Poison Spider (21.2
miles total) or the infamous Portal Trail (17.5 miles).
takes air off a sandstone ledge, one of hundreds of similar stunt
opportunities on this trail. Trees are mostly pinion pine, with a juniper
at lower elevations.
||The first 4 miles are visually pretty, with cliffs closing in around the
broad doubletrack of the Gemini Bridges road. Biking-wise, it's a bit of a
yawner. The track is smooth and easy. Once you begin climbing the rock at mile
5, things get a lot more interesting.
Matt and Mike cruise the easy first
section of the trail.
|Leaving the Gemini Bridges road in Little Canyon, the trail
begins climbing up the Kayenta sandstone. Rounding the head of Gold Bar
Canyon, it drops back down, then climbs to a viewpoint.
Looking uphill on a granny-gear grunt
near Gold Bar Canyon.
||Four wheeler traffic has excavated the trail surface. There
will be sections of powder-and-chunks, and a couple of unrideable black
tire-stained cliffs where you'll have to walk around.
Cogs to spare. Bruce takes advantage
of a smoother trail section, reducing wear on his front tread.
|From the viewpoint at the top, you can
look north at the undulating Moenkopi and Chinle skirts at the base of the
Wingate sandstone that forms the sheer cliffs along the Moab Fault.
Looking west, you see the Colorado River emerge from the Navajo Sandstone
below Slickrock. If you're riding the out-and-back, this is where you turn
around. Stay and play a while on the broad slickrock areas, then enjoy the
cruise back to the highway.
You'll find plenty of ledges, so practice your uphill attack and
downhill ledge drops.
Just one of several nasty ledges, some
of which are absolutely not rideable.
||The point-to-point rides:
Consider carefully before you commit to either of the
point-to-point options. These rides are NOT easy. After the first 5 miles,
there's no cruising. Again and again, you face tough technical climbing
followed by brakes-on, butt over the wheel technical descents. The Golden
Spike Trail and the Gold Bar Rim will take everything you've got.
Bruce and Matt look into Gold Bar
Canyon. The trail follows the tilted Kayenta layer up and around the
The reward for all this? Tons of ledges, jumps, and technical
challenges. Fantastic views, again and again, as the trail comes back to
the edge of the Wingate cliffs to the west of the Moab Valley.
On Poison Spider, you'll ride mounds of Navajo Sandstone as you cross
the mesa, then drop down to the river on an advanced-technical ride.
Mike grunts up and over a ledge as he
nears the top.
||The Portal Trail presents two problems: (1) the deadly upper
half is located exactly one endo away from high cliffs, and (2) the
extremely technical lower half is more than ready to maim or kill you.
Even very skilled technical riders walk much of the Portal Trail, and only
the most idiotic (or suicidal) try to ride it all.
Matt rolls down from the viewpoint at
the end of the Gold Bar Rim Trail. In the background, the Colorado river
slices through mounds of Navajo sandstone.
0.0 Head across the tracks and turn
4.3 Turn left (off the Gemini Bridges road) just before it climbs a
4.8 Gold Bar ST crosses N38 36.097 W109 39.346
5.3 Fork, keep L
5.8 Fork, keep L N38 36.097 W109 39.346
(R = Rusty Nail)
Reaching open rock, follow
"gold bars" painted on rock
8.3 Golden Spike joins, go L
8.5 At turn-around, overlook. End of trail for out-and-back
For epic ride, backtrack 0.2,
south (left) on Golden Spike
14.1 Trail to Portal forks L before fence (easy to miss)
15.0 Portal singletrack goes R
GPS N 38° 35.033' W 109°
Back at road at mile 17.5
For Poison Spider, keep R at above fork
Follow little "jeeps"
painted on the rock
Back at road at mile 21.2
Getting there: Drive south on US-191 for 16 miles
south of I-70 (about 15 miles north of Moab). Spot the parking area on the
west (right as you head toward Moab) side of the road. GPS N 38° 39.381'
W 109° 40.672'. Park in front of the railroad tracks, and head out west
on the road. (Note: this is private parking, and requires payment of a
fee. Free parking is available across the highway at the Bar M trailhead.)
To leave a shuttle at the Poison Spider trailhead, go 6 miles down
U-278 then right up a short dirt road with a sign that says "Dinosaur
Tracks." GPS is
N 38° 31.917' W 109° 36.473'.
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