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Moab is one of the premier off-road and four-wheel drive destinations. Comprised of many of the most well-known trails in all United States, it has trail types that suit all drivers wheeling desires and is often called an off-roader's paradise. Amongst these trails, Poison Spider is one of the most popular and challenging trails in the area. You get amazing wheeling, and you can also take in the inspiring Little Arch with a view of the Colorado River behind it. The bold will continue to Golden Spike, Where Eagles Dare, and finish on Gold Bar Rim. Very few complete what is known as "The Trifecta."
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Poison Spider Mesa is a lollipop-shaped loop that also connects to the Golden Spike trail. The trail is comprised of slickrock, sand, and dirt, with plenty of waterfalls, ledges, and hill climbs. Even though most obstacles have a bypass, several are still mandatory. Expect 6-foot tall waterfalls, steeper than 30-degree inclines, and plenty of drops you drag bumpers on. Poison Spider Mesa is recommended for experienced drivers in a modified vehicle with a lift, larger tires, and traction aid devices like lockers. However, if you don't mind undercarriage scraping, this trail can be run in a stock Jeep with an experienced driver and careful line placement.
Note: The .gpx track available here is of the hardest lines possible on the trail. Stop at each obstacle and pick your route. When in doubt, follow the white tracks painted on the road surface.
The trail begins on the west side of the Colorado River, off Potash Road, just south of Williams Bottom Camping Area. Continue up the hill to the staging area.
The trail has a large trailhead parking area suitable for trailers and any size group. This is an excellent place to air down and prepare for the trail, as the rocks and bumps start right away. Several informative signs scattered around the parking lot speak about this area's rich fossil history. You can also find a pit toilet located at the far end of the parking lot.
As you begin switchbacking your way up the mesa, this small slickrock ledge is a mere taste of the obstacles yet to come.
In a tight switchback, you encounter an extremely rocky ledge that progressively gets taller each year. The ledge has numerous lines, with the easiest line remaining straight, close to the cliff edge, and the most complex line cutting the switchback as tight as possible, climbing car-sized boulders.
The trail drops down several feet and passes through a rocky cut in the slickrock. A bypass can be found to the south and reconnects immediately after the drop.
Close to the cliff edge is an optional obstacle with multiple lines ranging in height from 3 feet to 5 feet. Bypass this obstacle by following tire marks above the ledge to the north. After this obstacle, the trail flattens out and transitions to smooth packed-dirt for a short bit.
Pass the intersection for D1585, which dead-ends after a quarter mile at a beautiful slickrock campsite along the cliff edge overlooking the Colorado River.
This optional slickrock dome is a steep climb more friendly towards long-wheelbase vehicles. The farther right you stay on the obstacle, the steeper the climb. The bypass to his obstacle is to the east and immediately reconnects.
This non-optional obstacle, the "waterfall," curves uphill out of a shallow canyon and can feel quite off-camber in the vehicle. There are a couple of different lines to traverse the climb, but holding tight to the uphill side is the easiest and least off-camber.
Ascend a steep, narrow slit on the slickrock that is relatively smooth but does have a few ruts and is often covered in sand, making traction a little difficult. Immediately after the first climb, make a sharp u-turn and ascend another climb across multiple small stairsteps of slickrock.
This waterfall at the top of the u-turn is the most difficult, non-optional climb along the trail. Large holes on the approach can easily high-center a vehicle, while off-camber ruts along the climb can sometimes lead to large wheelstands. Tire placement is critical along this obstacle, so be sure to have a good line and use a spotter if necessary.
The Wedgie is an optional obstacle where vehicles must straddle a v-notch trench for around 20 yards. This location is great for seeing your suspension system cycle from left to right. The bypass for this obstacle circles around to the south on the slickrock ridge above the trench.
This broad slickrock hump has several lines, including a deep v-notch on one side that will quickly cause wheelstands on short-wheelbase vehicles. The middle line is a steep, 4-foot vertical wall considered the moderate line, and the far south line leans slightly off-camber but traverses small, smooth holes and is the easiest of all three lines.
This ledge obstacle has multiple lines and a complete bypass around it to the west.
Slight left, following white dashes. D1583 heads up the hill to the east and dead-ends in a few hundred yards. Despite appearances, D1583 is an in-and-back road to this same spot. Any other routes are not legally recognized paths.
Continue straight. Despite appearances, this intersection is an illegally created route not recognized by the BLM. Please stay on legally designated routes and avoid urges to simply follow previous tracks. Beyond this point, the trail begins bobbing up and down as you cross many slickrock fins. The road will be rough and slow for the next 0.3 miles.
The trail flattens out and becomes much smoother as you reach the top of the mesa. This is an easy section of the trail where you can take it out of low range and pick up your speed as you head toward Pig Rock.
The high-speed mesa ends at a multi-point ledge drop separated by juniper trees. Each drop has a different pitch, but the smallest one, at 32 degrees, is to the right, and the largest one, at 42 degrees, is to the left. A complete bypass of the ledges exists to the west and reconnects to the main trail at the base of the ledges in the sand bowl.
Pass a well-marked intersection for the Golden Spike trail, and continue northeast.
Stay in the sand traveling east to continue the Poison Spider loop in the counter-clock way direction, or travel up the slickrock to run the loop clock ways. You will return to this intersection at the end of the loop.
Follow black tire marks up a long slickrock dome.
Drop down a steep, 31-degree slickrock dome into a low, sandy spot that can be filled with hub-deep water after a heavy storm. To the north, you can find a bypass that gradually descends the slickrock and cuts through the juniper trees.
There are two options for this hill; straight up or making the turn along the slope for off-camber fun. You can find a bypass for this obstacle down below the hill cutting through the trees. The bypass heads straight for the Little Arch parking area.
Slightly downhill from the slickrock dome, a large roped-off area marks the parking area for Litte Arch. The Arch is a short, 100-yard hike from the parking area to the southeast. You can spy on the Moab Rim parking lot through the Arch's window.
Follow white dashes and circle around the Giant Pothole.
Turn northwest and remain on slickrock as you pass the southern intersection for Barney's Overlook, an amazing dead-end trail that circles behind Pig Rock to an epic campsite high above Moab.
Continue northwest towards a short slickrock dome covered in black tire marks. The trail heading east is a second entry point to Barney's Overlook.
The main trail veers right/northeast here. This slickrock dome in front of you is entirely optional, but a fun place to test tire traction.
The main trail continues west, following white dashes. The spur road trekking north leads to an overlook along the rim and eventually connects to the Golden Spike trail.
Continue west down several sandy berms. D1574 is a short spur road intersecting to the south and reconnecting at Waypoint 32.
The trail comes to a hard-to-recognize y-intersection with trail D1577. Continue south to follow the Poison Spider loop. D1577 is a short connecting road to Golden Spike, just south of the Skyline Drive obstacle.
Continue west as D1574 reconnects from the south.
Continue straight through the Sand Hill, a popular area for donuts and high-speed turns.
The Poison Spider loop comes to an end as you drop off the slickrock and return to Waypoint 20, near the southern end of Golden Spike. Return to the trailhead at Waypoint 2 or have fun exploring other trails in the area.
There is no dispersed camping along the Poison Spider trail, but remote camping can be found along the D1585 spur road at Waypoint 7 and Barney's Overlook at Waypoints 26 and 27. Camping at those locations is very rugged and only suitable for ground tents or rooftop tents.
Moab offers many other camping options, including improved BLM campgrounds, RV parks, and hotels. Remember, when using free designated sites, you must remove all solid human waste from the area. Campers are required to possess, set up, and use portable toilets. Campers may not bury, or leave exposed, solid human body waste and soiled toilet paper. The disposal of solid human waste off public land is required. You must camp only in marked sites, and no woodcutting is allowed. Following these simple rules will ensure the sites are attractive to future campers. Enjoy your stay! The Moab Field Office maintains 26 campgrounds. Many of the campgrounds are located close to Arches National Park along the Colorado River. These campgrounds offer views of spectacular red rock cliffs amidst a green ribbon of vegetation.
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