Poison Spider Mesa Trail
1 Day Trail – Rated 3 1/2
Poison Spider Mesa forms one of the cliff features that is part of the Moab landscape northwest of town. The mesa is bordered on the east by Moab Valley and on the south by the Colorado River. Access is via Scenic Byway 279, the “Potash Road,” and the trail climbs to the rim along with the sloping rock layers. The first few miles of trail must be retraced, but most of the travel time will be spent on a loop that reaches the rim. It has deservedly become one of our most popular trails because it has great scenery and because the jeeping is just challenging enough to be fun without quite being a vehicle buster. Incidentally, we love the name, but the population of Black Widows is probably no greater than other local areas.
The vista across the fins of Behind the Rocks toward the La Sal Mountains is as fine as they come. The rim view overlooks Moab 1,000 feet below and includes a panorama of about 300°. The usual lunch stop is just above so-called “Little Arch.” Jeep Arch (about 3 miles away) is seen clearly from near the rim.
Much of the loop portion is on Navajo Sandstone slickrock, with one stretch of 0.4 miles of pure rock. There are also rock ledges, sandy washbottom, and two blow-sand hills.
After some easy switchbacks and a fairly flat stretch, a sandy canyon leads to some switchbacks, this time with rock ledges that are often the most difficult part of the trail. There are steep slickrock climbs, but they are manageable in stock equipment. One sand hill may be difficult to climb with small tires carrying highway pressure, and one optional sand hill can be quite difficult when dry.