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Gary looks over Poison Spider Mesa Poison Spider Mesa and Portal Trail
The Poison Spider Mesa trail is one of the "Must Do" rides of Moab. Combining physically demanding biking challenges with great views, this trail is for expert bikers. The trail can be ridden as an out-and-back, but here we describe a 13-mile loop that includes the infamous Portal Trail as the return-route off the mesa. Altitude gain is 1000 feet. Save some energy for the top -- even after you've finished your 1000 vertical, you'll be grinding up one sandstone dome after another. At the top of the mesa, slickrock sections are scattered between short sections of sand that are rideable, but will suck the life out of your legs. On the slickrock sections, the trail is marked by little white "jeeps" painted on the rock.
Watch for the fork where the Golden Spike Trail separates from the Poison Spider trail at GPS N 38 33.728' W 109 35.800'. Make sure you follow the little jeeps (left), not the spikes.
The Portal Trail heads back south (to your right) when you reach the viewpoint overlooking Moab at GPS N 38 35.033' W 109 35.688'. The jeep road that continues north joins the Golden Spike trail. The Portal Trail is a gnarly and dangerous return route. There are sections where you should get off your bike as you carefully walk along the edge of the cliffs. Overly confident bikers die here.
The Portal Trail drops 1000 feet in around a mile, with narrow squeezes, ledge drops, loose rock, and insane turns. Intermediate riders can find some stuff they'll like, but most likely they'll walk their bike much of the way down.
When you hit the paved road, go west (right) downriver a couple of miles to your starting point.
Riding notes:
0.4   Fork R
1.5   Keep R
1.6   Keep R
3.1   Fork L (diamonds) for less sand
3.2   Trails rejoin
3.6   Fork L (jeeps)
3.7   Trails rejoin again
3.9   Keep L
        Follow painted jeeps
6.0   Fork R
6.5   At Little Arch (spur goes R downhill)
6.7   Fork L
7.2   Follow cairns uphill
7.6   Pass fence and drop-off warning sign
7.7   Fork R uphill
8.2   At rim. Portal Trail is singletrack on R
11    Bottom of Portal Trail, turn R on road
13    Right up to parking
Getting there: From the middle of Moab, drive north on US-191 for 4.2 miles, turning left (west) onto U-279. After another 6.2 miles (10.4 miles from Moab's center street), turn right on a short dirt road with a sign that says "Dinosaur Tracks." The trailhead is at GPS N 38 31.917' W 109 36.473'.

Copyright 2002 Mad Scientist Software Inc

Trail conditions change, and the layout of a trail may change without notice. Use this trail guide at your own risk.