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Rusty Nail Trail

The Rusty Nail Trail itself is only 2 miles long, climbing from the Gold Bar 4x4 road to the Golden Spike 4x4 route near the Golden Crack. Lowest altitude is 4550, top is 5100. I wouldn't consider this trail to be a stand-alone route -- it's an in-between trail that creates some nice combined-trail rides.

View east as we climb Rusty Nail. Checkout ride and photos by Bruce on April 28, 2011.

As an uphill route to Golden Spike, Rusty Nail is a fairly strenuous climb. It has a few highly technical features that you may need to hike over. Rusty Nail forks off the Gold Bar 4x4 (not the singletrack) 1.5 miles from where it starts on the Gemini Bridges road.

Rusty Nail reaches the Golden Spike 0.9 miles from its northern end. For riders who are doing a loop or point-to-point from Gemini to Poison Spider (or riding the Magnificent 7 route down the Portal Trail), the climb up Rusty Nail cuts a couple of miles off the distance and eliminates a little bit of tough climbing on Gold Bar Rim.

Doing the Gold Bar to Poison Spider route, we're climbing the Gemini Bridges Road. 500 vertical in the Chinle skirts below the Wingate cliffs.

As a downhill route, Rusty Nail can be used by riders going south-to-north on Golden Spike. Or, it can be the DH segment of a loop where the uphill is the Gold Bar Singletrack and Gold Bar 4x4, and the first part of the descent is the first mile of Golden Spike. (This is a nice loop ride if you can catch it when the moto churn has been settled by rains.)

After dropping down from the hillside, we're heading west on the Gemini Bridges road.

Rusty Nail climbs on tilted Kayenta sandstone. The tilt is caused by the salt dome anticline beneath the Moab Valley. The lower portions have a bit of chunk-and-churn from motos; the upper area is slickrock.

Rusty Nail doesn't quite reach the cliffs overlooking Highway 191. Once you reach the junction with Golden Spike, you can ride a mile in either direction to reach an overlook.

We're now climbing the Gold Bar 4x4 road.

Ride option: Gold Bar to Rusty Nail loop

Start the ride anywhere between Moab and the Gold Bar 4x4 road. I started near the Colorado north of Moab and rode the paved Old 191 bike trail to the Gemini Bridges road. I arrived at the fork to Gold Bar with 11.4 miles traveled and 1100 vertical feet of climbing already. Nice warm-up.

From the Gemini TH, the loop is 17 miles. If you skip Gemini and drive straight to the Gold Bar Rim road, it's a paltry 8 miles, and you'll drop 500 vertical feet from your climbing.

Early on Rusty Nail. The brown ribbon across the valley is the trail.

Pedal south 1/2 mile on the Gold Bar Rim 4x4 road. Just after it begins to climb, find the Gold Bar Singletrack on your left.

When the Gold Bar Singletrack drops back down onto the Gold Bar Rim 4x4, keep climbing all the way to the viewpoint over the cliffs. You're now about 9 miles from the Gemini Bridges trailhead.

Reaching the slickrock area climbing Rusty Nail.

From the viewpoint, backtrack 0.1 mile and fork left onto Golden Spike. A mile from the viewpoint, you'll pass The Sword in the Stone -- a big rock with an oversized sword handle sticking out of the top. That's an important landmark (but it might be gone in the future). Just after you go past it, Rusty Nail forks downhill on the right, while Golden Spike continues uphill.

Looking back down an ugly ledge. Couldn't climb it.

The intersection was very well-marked with fresh paint on the slickrock. I passed the painting crew during my ride. If you come to the Golden Crack (a big slot in the slickrock where 4x4's scratch themselves up), backtrack about 1/4 mile.

A typical spot on the Rusty Nail.

Descend the slickrock as it veers south along the edge of Gold Bar Canyon. The route will now turn into rocky dirt road, drop through a wash, then turn north and climb a little on ugly broken loose stuff. Then it will turn to join the Gold Bar Rim 4x4. Turn left here, and ride 1.5 miles to the Gemini Bridges road. 

The trail skirts the edge of Gold Bar Canyon, which begins with this sudden chasm.

Ride Option: Rusty Nail - Golden Spike - Poison Spider

Point-to-point from the Gemini Bridges TH, this ride will be a tough 20 miles. The Golden Spike portion has a lot of up-and-down sections, so you'll climb 3200 vertical feet.

No shuttle? I did a loop using Old 191 and the Potash Road. With an out-and-back to the Gold Bar viewpoint (so I could track the entire Golden Spike), my ride was 37 miles with 4000 vertical. Do it if you dare.

The trail is marked by white paint spots.

Ride the Gemini Bridges road to the Gold Bar 4x4 road. Climb 1.5 miles uphill (pass the Gold Bar Singletrack and ignore two small roads forking right). Now turn right on Rusty Nail. It will drop through some nasty loose stuff into a wash. Yes, this section stinks, but it will get much better.

Looking back south toward Gold Bar Arch.

As you climb, the road is first dirt with little ledges, then open rock. There are some tech spots that you'll need to scramble up. (If you claim you can ride them, send me the video.) As you reach the top of Gold Bar Canyon, the trail suddenly turns to smooth slickrock.

We've reached Golden Spike, and will be approaching the rim. The La Sal Mountains are across the Moab Valley.

After 2 miles on Rusty Nail, you'll reach Golden Spike. Hopefully, the markings on the rock will alert you. Fork right (uphill). After the first descent, you'll reach the Golden Crack. Now you know you're on the right path.

Looking north along highway 191.

Golden Spike will undulate up and down, slowly beating your legs to death. It drops 700 vertical feet, but you'll do 1500 feet of climbing between bits of downhill.

Once Golden Spike turns away from the rim for the last time, the riding turns from slickrock to red dirt and ledges. It will drop into a wash between domes of sandstone.

Landmark if you're riding the Gold Bar to Rusty Nail loop. Just after you pass this sword, you fork R downhill off Golden Spike onto Rusty Nail. (If you're doing point-to-point to Poison Spider, you won't pass this.)

Follow what appears to be the main route. There are some little dead-end forks, and a connector over to Poison Spider. Only a few of these intersections are marked with signs, but you should be able to figure it out as you ride. 

After an ugly sandy section, you'll climb open rock again to the intersection with Poison Spider near the rim. Fork right.

Ah, Moab. Bet there's a 48 ounce Coke down there somewhere.

Poison Spider has an ugly climbing surprise for you right away. Then it converts to a boring road before starting the drop to the river. There will be some tech spots as you descend. Your ride will end in the "Dinosaur Tracks" parking area on Potash Road.

We're dropping downhill on Poison Spider. Only about 5 miles to go.

Getting there, Gemini TH:  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.)
Start at Gold Bar:  Instead of parking at the Gemini TH, drive 4.5 miles up the Gemini Bridges road. Turn left at the Gold Bar Rim road and drop off to begin your ride.
To leave a shuttle at the Poison Spider trailhead for the point-to-point ride: On 191 at the bottom of the canyon (just past the old tailings pile), turn west onto U-278 (also called Potash Road). Drive 6 miles then turn right up a short dirt road with a sign that says "Dinosaur Tracks." There's a bathroom at the parking area. GPS is N 38 31.917' W 109 36.473'.
Riding notes, Gold Bar - Rusty Nail Loop clockwise:
0.0   Begin riding Gemini Bridges road
        N38 39.376 W109 40.659
4.6   L on Gold Bar road
        N38 35.997 W109 40.426
5.1    L on Gold Bar ST
         N38 35.881 W109 40.143
6.2    Stay L. Alternate track on R
         N38 36.543 W109 39.961
6.6    Alternate rejoins N38 36.682 W109 39.698
7.1    Straight (R), L=closed area
         N38 36.635 W109 39.295
         Descend toward Gold Bar
7.4    Join Gold Bar rd, fork L
         N38 36.419 W109 39.233
8.8    Keep R (L=return from closed area)
         N38 36.817 W109 38.562
8.9    Straight (L) to viewpoint (R=Golden Spike)
         N38 36.849 W109 38.525
9.0    Viewpoint, backtrack downhill
         In 100 yards, L on Golden Spike
9.9    Fork R downhill on Rusty Nail
         N38 36.508 W109 38.240
11.9  L on Gold Bar Rim road
         N38 36.097 W109 39.341
13.4  R on Gemini Bridges road
18.0  Back at parking
Riding notes, Rusty Nail to Poison Spider:
0.0   Begin riding Gemini Bridges road
        N38 39.376 W109 40.659
4.6   L on Gold Bar road
        N38 35.997 W109 40.426
5.1    Stay on Gold Bar 4x4 as ST crosses
         N38 35.881 W109 40.143
6.1    R on Rusty Nail
         N38 36.097 W109 39.341
8.1    R on Golden Spike
         N38 36.508 W109 38.240
8.4    Golden Crack N38 36.509 W109 38.138
9.1    Overlook N38 36.529 W109 37.550
10.5  Straight (L) N38 35.884 W109 36.815
10.8  L to Viewpoint N38 35.920 W109 36.547
11.6   Keep L N38 35.435 W109 36.506
11.8   Stay straight in wash N38 35.302 W109 36.449
12.7? L for Portal Connector (exact spot not noted, sorry)
14.4   R on Poison Spider  N38 33.710 W109 35.788
15.2   Keep R (L = alternate) N38 33.273 W109 36.233
17.1   Alternate rejoins N38 33.078 W109 36.878
19.6  At Poison Spider parking N38 31.939 W109 36.560
Riding Resources for Rusty Nail:
  Single-page riding guide for printing.
  Topo map:   High Res w Gold Bar    Mag 7 Low-Res
  Other connected trail pages:
      Gold Bar   Gold Bar ST   Golden Spike
      Poison Spider   Gemini Bridges   Magnificent 7
  Lodging, camping, shops:
      Links to Moab area resources
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
      Track Gold Bar - Rusty Nail Loop
      Track Gemini-Rusty Nail-Golden Spike-Poison Spider
      Magnificent 7 track    Area Multi-track File