Moab is a mecca for anyone who likes going off-road and spending time in the amazing scenery of Southwestern Utah. The adventure abounds in and around the town, which serves as a hub for all kinds of outdoor activities. If you’re reading this it’s probably not because of your fascination with rock climbing, mountain biking, white water rafting, or hiking, but rather an obsession like ours with off-roading. Chances are you’re on your way to Moab, or know someone who’s headed this way, or maybe you couldn’t make it this year, but want to relive some memories of the past. We’ve been to Moab several times, and you might think we’d get jaded by the awesome 4-wheeling and beautiful vistas, but quite to the contrary; Moab does not disappoint. So what did we do on our first day in Moab for Easter Jeep Safari 2017? We fueled up our 1949 Willys Truck and headed to the trail head of one of our favorite trails; Poison Spider Mesa. Now, running Poison Spider Mesa can be an all-day affair, and we have other trails that need our attention, too, so we just ran the first part; from the pavement to the top of the mesa, and back down again. It’s good for us, because we want to see enthusiasts in action, and it’s close to town (just up Potash Road north of town) and filled with fun obstacles.You can consider this a mini trail report on what the first part of the trail looks like. A skilled driver can make his or her way to the top of the mesa in a 4x4 with decent flex and good, aired down tires. The trail is still fun for those of us in built rigs with lockers and large tires if you want to try some of the harder lines. Up and back can take a few hours to all day if you enjoy the views and stop a lot.
The first real obstacle on Poison Spider Mesa is one of the switchbacks. This rocky section has an easier line to the left with several harder steep climbs to the right. Below this point the trail seems to have had some maintenance since last year at EJS, including one of the earlier switchbacks which has been back filled and a grade between the two switch backs. We stayed to the right on this climb.
This is the next spot that in the past was a challenge, but this year is very filled in. note that we are going backwards here, because we’re funny like that. This V has a go around to the left (when going up to the top of the mesa, right in this picture). In years past, or with a rig with stock sized tires this was a great place to hang a diff on a rock, not so this year.
The next obstacle is a steep climb with a huge cliff to the far left. There is a bypass to the far right, but if you choose to attempt the climb the easiest line is to the right side of the difficult climb. If you split the V-notch on the right and your tires are aired down properly you should make the climb. We shot a quick video of our climb just to the left on a more challenging line.
There are a few more climbs with bypasses below the area known as the Waterfall. The Waterfall, and the sandy areas just before it have had some rock brought in in soft spots also the area to the right at the base of the Waterfall has a new easier line. Stay to the right at the Waterfall, unless you want a challenge. Rigs that climb well can go far left and straddle the hole.
This shot is looking down the Waterfall where you can see the easiest line all the way right and the new, or re-worked line below the waterfall. Just above the Waterfall is another cool climb. Stay to the left unless you want to challenge your rig…or your nerves.
Above the Waterfall the hits come fast. Next up is this sandy climb to the right. Sand on slick-rock can make things exciting especially if you haven’t aired your tires down enough. There isn’t much opportunity to try different lines here but in our experience near the top of the climb you want your driver side tire to the left.
Just as soon as you make the sand covered climb you come to a switch back with a wide area for parking. You’ll make a sharp turn to the left to follow the trail and climb up a series of small ledges. Then keep left at the right hand turn for the easier line. To the right of this right turn are some bigger ledges and harder climbs.
Above this climb the trail flattens for a few yards before you come to this area that looks like it was blasted out of the rock. Stay to the left for the easier line, or if you’re foolish and testing your luck (or skill) like we are try staying right and then straddle the crack.
The next obstacle is called the Wedgy or V-notch. There is an easy bypass to the far left. The V-notch is intimidating, but not too hard if you stick to the correct line. Stay to the right near the start of the V and use the sidewall of your passenger tires to keep from falling in the notch. The only really tricky part of this obstacle is the hole and climb right at the end.
Here’s another view of the V-notch that shows the tricky spot at the top. Just be sure to straddle that hole and don’t be tempted to turn right too soon at the top or your rear tire can fall in the hole sending the passenger front skyward, and at worst may cause a flop.
The rest of the trail up to the top of the mesa is fun with a few more ledges to climb like this one (where the black Cherokee is going down not up).
One more climb and you’re at the top of the mesa. From here you can have lunch and enjoy the view, or carry on up the trail to meet up with Golden Spike Trail. The hills to the east towards the LaSalle Mountains are spectacular.