Summary: The 6 rated Golden Spike trail is one of the most popular. Challenging obstacles, nonstop scenery, and a road surface between obstacles that makes for a comfortable slow steady pace helps keep this long trail popular. The trail was developed at the 1989 Easter Jeep Safari as a connection between the Poison Spider Mesa and Gold Bar Rim trails. A group of 4-wheelers started breaking trail from each of the original trails and worked toward each other until they met. Realizing the similarity to the meeting of the railroads coming from the east and west which was also in Utah, they christened the new trail the Golden Spike.
Location: Go northwest out of Moab on Highway 191. A little over a mile past the Colorado River bridge, turn south on Highway 279 (Potash Road). The trail head for the Poison Spider portion of the trail begins in about 6 miles and just before the river and road starts bending west. The trail works it’s way back northeast above the Colorado River and Highway 279 and then northwest near the rim above Highway 191 and the Moab Canyon. Following that is the long trip down the Gold Bar Rim trail and then back toward Highway 191 through Little Canyon.
Scenery: From the high, sloping layer of Wingate Sandstone which most of the trail is on, scenic views open in all directions. To the south are glimpses of the Colorado River gorge, to the east views of the fin country across the Colorado River in the Behind the Rocks area and to the north are breathtaking views down from the cliff rim that overhangs above Moab Canyon and Highway 191. Stay well back from the edge as these overhangs have been known to break off.
The Trail: The first part of the trail covers a good portion of the 6 rated Poison Spider Mesa trail. Poison Spider obstacles provide enough challenge to get your attention and force many to make more than one try unless the bypasses are taken. The Wedge forces you to either tenuously straddle it with a very real chance of sliding in and doing some real body damage or going along the south side with a nerve testing tilt. The first major Golden Spike obstacle is the Launching Pad, an incredibly steep slick rock climb with a bump near the top. Zuki Hill will require one to drive with skill. The hill is so named because Zuk, as skilled Suzuki driver, rolled his 4X4 there. Following that is a long stretch with few obstacles that makes for a nice steady pace and time to enjoy the scenery along the way. The Golden Crack marks the beginning of the final obstacle rich, challenging mile to Gold Bar Rim. The Golden Crack is perhaps the most famous obstacle on the trail. The first year or two the trail was open, there was a big rock in the crack to help get across. But 4-wheelers learned a tenuous, bumper scraping method of crossing the crack without that “crutch” and it has been removed. The Golden Stairs have laid more than one 4X4 on its side and often deals fits to those without lockers. Perhaps the most challenging obstacle in Moab may be attempted just after the Wall. The Double Whammy probably breaks more gears, driveshafts and other drivetrain parts than any other obstacle in the area. Roll overs are also common there.