Poison Spider Trail – Moab

Moab, UT

Looking out our front window we can see a large rock formation across the Colorado River high up on top of a rock wall.  Our friend (and current neighbor) Gay has been up there and told us that it looks like a sleeping pig and piglets from the mesa on the other side of it.

So yesterday we decided to hike up to check it out.  To get there we went north a few miles from Moab, turned left on to Potash Road, and drove about five miles to the  parking area for the trailhead for Poison Spider Mesa 4×4 Road.  This is also the trailhead for a short hike to some dinosaur tracks and also for the trail to Longbow Arch, which we did a couple of weeks ago.  Most of this hike is on the narrow dirt road, but we cut out a half mile by hiking part of the Longbow Arch Trail to a point where it goes right next to the road.

On the Longbow Arch Trail

We joined the road at a point where many of the various off-road vehicles choose to take a slight side road to go up and over “the Waterfall,” a steep rock step.  You can stay on the road and avoid this, but what fun would that be?

A Jeep Sahara goes up and over the rock wall

Poison Spider is a very popular route for all types of 4×4 vehicles and has some very challenging rock climbs.  It’s a bit too challenging for our Jeep, as you really need some modifications to navigate the most difficult sections.

Photos can’t properly show how steep some of the climbs really are . . .

. . . but this is a pretty good example

We met a group of five Ford Broncos who were enjoying the challenges along the road.  It took a while for the group to complete some of the challenges, so we were able to keep up with them by taking some shortcuts over the rocks.

It was really fun to watch them navigate a narrow slot called “the V Notch” or “the Wedgy.”  This is where our Jeep would have said “No Way!” and turned around heading for the parking area.  But this group of modified Broncos made it up fairly easily.

As we gained a bit of elevation the views of the nearby La Sal Mountains became quite beautiful.

Soon the rock formation we were seeking came into view.  Gay was right, it looks just like a pig with piglets!

The Poison Spider Trail takes its name from the legend that a little girl named Mary Jane Francis died there from the bite of a poison spider in 1896.  Along the road there is a grave site where she is supposedly buried.  Her grave site is lined with stones, and her name and the dates 1889 to 1896 are clearly carved on a headstone. This memorial has encouraged many to leave a parting tribute – all sorts of “stuff” has accumulated around the grave including many coins, especially quarters.


We hiked five miles to a spot high on the rocks where we decided to turn around.  But first we had a quiet lunch while enjoying the great views all around us.

Lunch with a view (the snow on the La Sals is visible on the horizon)

The return hike was one of almost complete solitude, as we only saw a couple of vehicles along the way.

Soon we were back at the “Wedgy,” which is pretty easy to navigate if you are on foot!

We hiked back down to the spot where we would leave the road and hike the final half mile on the Longbow Arch Trail.  As we sat to rest on a spot above the road, a group of Jeeps passed by below us.  Wouldn’t you know it, one of Jeeps was occupied by our friends, Joe and Gay (the same Gay who had told us about the trail).

Joe and Gay pass by

We waved to each other as they continued down the road and we broke off on to the trail.

Joe and Gay head on down the road

Hiking down some steep slickrock on the Longbow Arch Trail

We returned to the parking area tired from our ten miles of up and downs and sand, but pleased with all we saw and experienced on this great hike.

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34 Responses to Poison Spider Trail – Moab

  1. jj1024 says:

    What a great hike! The jeeps, the grave site and the pig and her piglets! I can’t believe those jeeps – you got some terrific shots of the awkward angles, etc. Yup, I do prefer my own 2 feet on solid ground!

  2. Sue says:

    How fun to watch those vehicles negotiate all the obstacles! Great that you got to see Gay and Joe there as well. Love that shirt Pam! I’ll say nothing about your wedgie……or John’s for that matter…..

    • placestheygo says:

      I can’t believe how lucky we were with our timing. We just stopped to take a break before heading off the road to the Longbow Arch trail. If we hadn’t taken those extra minutes, we would have missed Gay and Joe.

  3. Jim and Barb says:

    I remember going by this area with our jeep and thinking no way! I enjoy jeeping in challenging areas but not to the point to see how much it takes before it breaks.

  4. Did you ever find the dinosaur tracks?

  5. explorvistas says:

    Are you using your poles more, Pam? I relied heavily on mine in Big Bend. Sure saved my knees!

  6. Ingrid says:

    That’s some crazy driving. Love the pig rock. I hiked at Red Canyon today and loved it. I’m hoping you guys hike Fairyland at Bryce Canyon and share. I couldn’t talk Al into an out and back on the Fairyland trail so we re-hiked Queens/Navajo yesterday and cut our time by 30 minutes because I wasn’t stopping with the camera as often. Happy husband 😆

    • placestheygo says:

      Glad you got to hike in Red Canyon! I really enjoyed the colors. One of the hikes I am hoping to do in Bryce is Fairyland since it was closed when we tried to hike it last time. We’ll make sure to post on it:)

  7. 10 MILES That’s a lot of stomping. The snow on the peaks add a nice touch to the great photos

  8. Looks like you almost did a split on the Wedgy! I love hiking on jeep roads and seeing what the crazy people do to their vehicles.

  9. Sherry says:

    Love the pictures of the La Sals. So beautiful. Do those vehicles really not damage the area at all? I think I’d rather hike with you.

    • placestheygo says:

      Most of the vehicles stay on the Jeep trail. We didn’t see any damage but I understand it does happen. The various 4×4 clubs maintain the trails and try to stop riding where they aren’t suppose to.

  10. Laurel says:

    The views of the La Sals are just gorgeous. And I love that you managed to sneak in a photo of the blooming yucca on the Longbow Arch trail!

  11. Gay says:

    It’s a great trail. Glad you got to see the front side of mama pig. And I love your wedgy!

  12. pmbweaver says:

    Awesome header photo.
    Sometimes I have to scratch my head and say…why would they name that rock such and such. But this one really does look like a pig with babies. Pretty neat.

    Now what are the chances you would run into your friends? How cool.

    I think that last photo should have been a butt hike down that slickrock. IMHO. LOL

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks for noticing the cool header, Marsha:) It was a wonderful view! I agree about some rock names, but that pig jumps right out at you. I think it is the perfect snout.

  13. montanaclarks says:

    Great blog–that rock does look like a pig! The views from that trail were breathtaking–so were some of those climbs! I just hung on tight and shut my eyes! Michael reminded me shutting my eyes might not be such a good thing if I needed to “bail!” BAIL??????

  14. What a fun and beautiful hike. Thanks for taking me along!

  15. patpatriot7 says:

    Morning Folks,

    We are recent signees to your blog, Oh, the Places They Go! after coming across a reference to it on Google. We signed up because we are putting together a trip itinerary for our small group (three senior couples) of retired teachers who are planning a visit to Moab (actually, the eastern Grand Circle route) as part of a 14-day fall trip. Our main focus is on the national (and state) parks in the area, so we thought we might find some ideas for easy to easy-moderate hikes in the area for our group who are between the ages of 65-75 and have some physical/medical limitations. This year’s itinerary includes Grand Staircase-Escalante NM (and the various scenic backways), Kodachrome Basin SP, Capitol Reef NP, Monument Valley NTP, Arches NP, Canyonlands NP and Dead Horse Point SP. Can you reference trails in any of these parks that you have taken and reference where on your site we can find your accounts/assessments of them? Thank you for your time and cooperation in this matter. We look forward to your reply and welcome any suggestions or recommendations you might offer.


    Les & Jill Taylor


  16. Another fun day in Moab! Love the pigs and it’s always fun to watch the 4 wheelers do their thing…it is amazing what they can conquer.

  17. LuAnn says:

    This reminded me of hiking some of the Sedona trails that are shared with jeeps. Love the view of the La Sal Mountains.

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