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Poison Spider Mesa
Grand County, Utah
View this on the Utah Trailheads Map

Trail Type: Out and Back
Nearby Towns: Moab
Nearby Trails: Golden Spike
Season: Year Round
Trail Length: 9.6 miles
Named Obstacles: Chutes, Big Ledge, Prelaunch Pad, Waterfall, Wedgy, Sand Bowl, Tippy Dome

Recommended by Adam
Recommended by Bill M.
Recommended by Frank
Recommended by Jenn
Recommended by Mike V.
Recommended by Ted

This is a very popular trail with vehicles as well as bikes and ATVs so you will probably see other people on this trail. And no, there are no poison spiders (though you can see the grave of Mary Jane Francis who supposedly died of a spider bite). You can follow white Jeep symbols painted on the rock to find your way fairly easily on this trail. Poison Spider Mesa is the first trail in the "Trifecta" of trails that all link together, followed by Golden Spike and Gold Bar Rim.

Make sure you stop on Potash Road on the way to the trail -- that's the paved road you use to get there. You'll see a sign for Indian Art, then pull over and check out the petroglyphs. There is also a sign to read more about them.

There are fun rock obstacles to try on this trail. The first obstacle, the Chutes, is optional and easy to miss. Follow tracks that leave the trail to go down this narrow chunk of rock. Soon after this is an optional Big Ledge where you drop down right next to the mesa's edge to climb up a big ledge of slickrock.

Prelaunch Pad is the first big hill of slickrock and is also optional. It is covered with black marks and impossible to miss. It is good practice for the many hills of slickrock on this trail and on Golden Spike and Gold Bar Rim if you decide to continue with those trails.

The Waterfall is fun and large and the first mandatory obstacle. Stay to the right as you go around the first corner and you'll be fine. This obstacle is an "S" of slickrock with a fun hill in the middle, too.

The Wedgy is also a blast, letting you drive very tipped over with a rock very close to your passenger side or straddling it with lots of space under you. If you get a back tire in the crack at the end you can get a nice wheelstand.

"Tie-Rod Flats" is an area of bumps that you have to crawl slowly over because they are just big enough to slow you down but just small enough to be annoying. This trail is one of those where you actually avoid the bumps by the end instead of seeking them out like usual.

High Speed Mesa is fun to do fast -- a long stretch of flat sandy road where you can really make up some time. Watch for bikes and ATVs, though. As soon as you start the Mesa you won't have to go too far to see the little grave marker on your right. Leave a quarter here for good luck. Then you can cruise through the rest of the Mesa.

Once the Mesa ends you'll drop quickly down some stairs and into the Sand Bowl. This is a big, round area of deep sand that is raised on the sides. You can do large donuts here but the sand makes it difficult to go fast (but fun to try).

When you get to the turn off for Golden Spike you'll see yellow spikes painted on the rock. To stay on the trail just keep following the white Jeep symbols to keep going on Poison Spider Mesa. Poison Spider Mesa turns to the right, while Golden Spike continues straight at the slickrock intersection.

Be sure to look for Pig Rock. It's a large rock in the distance toward the northeast that looks like a pig on her side, nursing some piglets. It's a good marker, so you'll want to keep it in view.

On your way to Little Arch, you'll come around the top of some slickrock on the Tippy Dome, and it's very tight. There will be a ledge up against your driver-side tires and you'll be leaning to the right over a long way down. Just keep your tires near the ledge (and not on it!) and you'll be fine. This area may be a little difficult for some people so there is a bypass at the bottom through the trees.

When you get around the corner you can park on the rock and walk over to Little Arch (it's not that little, though). Bring your lunch, this is a great spot to eat while you check out Moab, the Colorado River, and people running the Moab Rim trail across the canyon.

When you leave you'll make a big loop and come back to the place you were before, right after the place where Golden Spike starts. There is an overlook that is worth checking out, a right turn as you make your way around the loop and before you turn back in a southwestern direction.

Follow the trail out the way you came, to the original trailhead.

Information last updated on May 21st, 2009.

Member Reports

Driving Directions

From Moab, travel north on Highway 191 over the bridge at the north end of town. Turn left a mile or so past the bridge on Potash Road, Highway 279. Follow the river on the paved road about 6 miles to the well-marked trailhead and parking area. Be sure to stop to see the petroglyphs on the rock on the way there, marked with a sign reading "Indian Art." The trailhead has ample parking and a pit toilet, as well as a dinosaur footprint you can hike a short way to see.

Meeting Places

Meet at the McDonald's at Kane Creek Road and Main Street in Moab or at the Poison Spider Mesa trailhead where there is a pit toilet and ample parking.

Low-End Rating: 5
High-End Rating: 6
Rock Crawling:
Dirt & Mud:
Water Crossings:
Cliffs & Ledges:
Climbs & Descents:
Other Activities:
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Trail Photographs

Monica and Pig Rock High Speed Mesa Open space where Golden Spike trail begins
Little Arch The Colorado River viewed from Little Arch Jeep trail marker

Trail Movies
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Maps and Coordinates
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Trail in Red
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Poison Spider Mesa (GPS Exchange File)
Pig Rock (Google Earth Placemark)
Sand Bowl (Google Earth Placemark)
Sand Hill (Google Earth Placemark)
High Speed Mesa (Google Earth Placemark)
Prelaunch Pad (Google Earth Placemark)
Poison Spider Mesa Track (Google Earth Track)
Overlook (Google Earth Placemark)
Waterfall (Google Earth Placemark)
Big Ledge (Google Earth Placemark)
Little Arch (Google Earth Placemark)
Poison Spider Mesa Trailhead (Google Earth Placemark)
Petroglyphs (Google Earth Placemark)
Chutes (Google Earth Placemark)
Tippy Dome (Google Earth Placemark)
Wedgy (Google Earth Placemark)

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Trail information is only accurate on the date posted. Trails may have changed or closed since that date. Use this information for historical purposes only. Contact the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management for up-to-date trail information.

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