Grand County, Utah
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Nearby Towns: Moab
Nearby Trails: Golden Spike, Gold Bar Rim, Little Canyon
Season: Year Round
Trail Length: 3.01 miles
Elevation: 4,526 to 5,392 feet
Named Obstacles: Riff Raff, No Left Turn
Rusty Nail is a difficult trail that takes you from the start of Gold Bar Rim to right between the Golden Crack and the Golden Stairs on Golden Spike. It's like a shortcut to the most fun obstacles on Golden Spike, but it's a challenging shortcut, and it may or may not shorten the time it takes to get to the Golden Crack. In addition to the Golden Crack and Golden Stairs, you also get to do Double Whammy and Body Snatcher.
The trail starts as a right turn at a "T" intersection off of Gold Bar Rim. Watch for the brown Forest Service sign. If you do not see this sign you may be on Little Canyon instead.
It starts as a fairly mellow trail, with some fun rock obstacles here and there. About a quarter of the way through the trail you come to Riff Raff, a big series of rocky obstacles designed to keep the "riff raff" off of the trail -- it is definitely the most difficult part of the trail.
The first section of Riff Raff is a large slab of rock with the bottom cut out, which is perfect for holding your tires at the bottom. It is at a slant, and it is famous for flopping vehicles over on their sides. Once you make it up on this rock slab, there is a big crack you must go through to get past the first section.
This first part has a bypass to the left, but it is also difficult. It is a mess of rocks near the edge of the cliff, so this area could conceivably be worse than the actual obstacle.
There is a bit of room between the first part and second part of Riff Raff where you can park quite a few vehicles. The second part has a large wall on the left and a series of rocks on the right. The rocks are the easiest way through it, but they are by no means easy. There are many different lines through them, but the key is getting your rear tires up on the initial rocks. After that the rest of it is pretty straightforward.
You get a little bit of a break, then it isn't long before you see that you'll be going around a rim and up a giant slab of slickrock. Between you and the slickrock there are a lot of obstacles, with No Left Turn at the start.
No Left Turn is an intimidating obstacle, but not particularly difficult if you are careful. You must make a sharp right turn on slickrock, then slide down a slickrock wall. This puts you on a narrow section of slickrock trail with a large wall next to you and a cliff on the other side out your driver's side window. You must go up and over a large rock with your driver's side tires, all while not hitting the top of your roof on the wall on your right. With a spotter and careful driving you should make it through No Left Turn without incident.
Immediately after the obstacle there are a series of ledges and tippy sections that are all fairly close to the edge, though if you did roll you probably wouldn't go over the side. There are a few lines that are tippier than others through these ledges.
At the end of this series of obstacles is the tippiest ledge of all, right before you end up on the big slickrock slab.
This section is the only one where trail finding may be difficult. If you have the Golden Crack in your GPS you can head almost straight for it and the trail should be right in front of you. You may have to get out and look around.
Follow whatever black tire marks you can find up the slickrock and over ledges. Soon you'll come around a curve and see that the trail is suddenly very black with lots of tire marks. That trail is Golden Spike and you are at the intersection with Rusty Nail.
Take a look around while you are at this intersection. Chances are, if you've done Golden Spike you've driven by this area and never noticed that Rusty Nail intersects here. Also, you can see Jeep Arch (Gold Bar Arch) in the distance.
Follow the very black tire marks up the hill to the right to go around the corner and play in the Golden Crack. Once you get to the other side, turn around and come back through it. For the rest of the trail you will follow the end of the Golden Spike trail.
Continue past the intersection with Rusty Nail and around, through the Golden Stairs and by the optional Double Whammy. Once you are through Body Snatcher and down the final shelf you have finished Rusty Nail and you are now on Gold Bar Rim.
(NAD83 Continental U.S. datum)
From Moab, take Highway 191 north to the parking lot on the left made of red dirt. Follow this red dirt road up and over the bluff past Gooney Bird Rock high above the flat dirt road (the road edges up against the base of the rock). When you come to the first major intersection turn left following a sign to Gold Bar Rim (do not go up the hill to Bull Canyon and Gemini Bridge). Skip the first "T" intersection and turn right at the second "T" intersection where there is a brown Forest Service sign marking the start of Rusty Nail.
Meet at McDonald's on Kane Creek Road and Main Street in Moab.