Poison Spider is seemingly on everyone's bucket list, but it's not for everyone. It's not too difficult, but the deep sand makes the miles feel long, and intermediates will need to dismount many times for rocky ledges. This trail is very popular with Jeeps, so avoid Jeep Jamboree weekends especially (weekdays are pretty empty). However, there's a lot of fun slickrock, and the scenery is just incredible.
From the parking lot (first take a look at the dinosaur tracks on the east end), start up the dirt road, which is impassible for normal cars but popular with Jeeps. It's not overly steep or technical, though near the top there's a short section with lots of large, loose rock and you may need to walk 100 yards or so.
Once you reach the plateau in about 2 miles, the riding becomes much less steep but there are now many ledges and long sandy spots that must be walked over the next mile. As bikes (and Jeeps) seek the harder sand on the edge of the trail, the path continues to widen, and is over 50' wide in places (!!!) - don't make it worse.
After the sand pits, the slickrock fun begins. You ride and up and down many domes, generally trending uphill. There are several ledges that most people will need to dismount and walk over. After about 3.5 miles, you are now high on the plateau and the scenery gets awesome. Rock fin formations, the city of Moab, and the La Sal mountains spread out before you.
At mile 5.5 there is a 100 yard walk to view "Little Arch". This is a popular place to turn around if you're getting tired, though the trail is actually better from here to the end, so stick with it if you have the energy!
When you hit the fork in the road that says "PS" and has arrows pointing in both directions, go RIGHT. The left option is for Jeeps doing a loop.
The final couple of miles have quite a bit of climbing up steep slickrock. It's amazing what you can stick to, just crank hard and you'll be on top soon. It's a really fun section.
At trail's end, you hit the Portal
trail at the edge of the plateau. You now have three options:
- Turn around and return the way you came (which is how this trail is mapped).
- Turn left and loop around the Golden Spike, which reunites with Poison Spider about halfway back.
- Turn right and descend the treacherous Portal trail. Recommended for experts only.