Poison Spider Mesa 3-1/2 Trail

Let me start by saying this was my second trip to Moab. The first was in 1995. I've heard all the trail stories of how tough Moab was, and how one was never to tackle the trails in a full size rig. So at first I was hesitant on attempting these in an almost stock Suburban. Dave, another full-size jockey, has made the Moab runs for many years so I figured if he could do it I could too. Oh, before I let Dave off the hook. He started out with us in a stock Plymouth Trail Duster (his Power Wagon "beast" was spread thin all across his garage -- he had to take something) but after the first day of humiliation on Poison Spider Mesa he turned tail and went home... wimp! Should be plenty of motivation there for next year.

A decent "starter" trail is Poison Spider Mesa. It's rated at a 3-1/2 (on a scale of 4-1/2+), and offers decent obstacles to give you a good taste for driving on slick rock. Slick rock is basically sandstone, equivalent to driving on sandpaper. On dry days the traction is incredible, on wet days they can be next to impossible (so I'm told). Climbing a 45 degree incline is nothing, try that in loose dirt or gravel and you'd better have lockers. The first steep obstacle will offer a little tire spinning if your approach isn't just right, but with wide tires and a lift it's no problem.

Immediately after that there is an optional climb, a bit steeper... too steep for my 'burban (gotta get those lockers), but not too steep for a jeep and zuki equipped with lockers front and rear. You'll find it off to the right of the trail as a shortcut through a switchback. It's easy to miss if you're not looking for it. A few more mild obstacle will get you to the Wedgie.

Wedgie is a fun crack that you can either straddle for a boring climb, or drive with your passenger side inside the crack to climb out the other side for some "three-wheeling" action. The first time you drive inside the wedge it feels like your leaning too far and risk tipping. But it's pretty safe, and after looking at the pictures (and doing it a few times) it's really not bad at all.

After the wedgie we tried to find the trail head to the Golden Spike trail, home of the infamous Golden Crack. The Golden Spike is rated at a 4-1/2+, so we were excited to give it a try. We were told to keep an eye open for a spike marker (a painted golden spike on slickrock), but we missed it and drove to the end of Poison Spider. There is a fork in the road toward the end, if you take the left fork you'll wind up in a sand play area. There's a few sand dunes and semi-steep sand hills that will let you blow those cobweb out of your engine. We drove around scouting from the tops of high rocks to see if we could spot the Golden Spike trail. We spotted a few trucks about a mile away and called them on the CB. They too where lost. We compared notes and headed for a direction that neither group had tried yet. And ta-da, we found the Golden Crack Launching Pad!