First of all, a day before I did this trail the 42 year young Todd Johnston died on this Trail. My thoughts were and are with his family and everyone else that knew him.
I did not know Todd, but I do know that 42 is just far too young, it is a cruel reminder of what can happen to any of us at any given time. Nothing I or anyone else can say will soften the the loss of a fellow Mountain Biker. Todd passed away doing something he loved doing, on a beautiful day, on a beautiful trail.
I dedicate the video at the bottom of the page to Todd Johnston M.H.R.I.P
The Gold Bar Rim Trail can be combined with various other trails, I chose to link it to the Portal Trail. The Gold Bar Rim is a really nice ride, with stunning scenery, however it is pretty remote, and this should definitely be taken into consideration.
Trail Stats & Information
Nearby City: Moab
Length: Shuttle 18.5 total miles [ Gold Bar Rim down Portal]
Trail Type: Shuttle Loop or Out & Back
Skill Level: Technically and Physically brutal, relentless, and very dangerous.
Duration: 6-10 hours
Trailhead Elev: 4,575 feet
Top Elev: 5,400 feet
This is the deep end of the pool, the brink of mountain biking, the pinnacle of the sport, a ride only fit for the strong, smart and skilled–a place where others can qualify for the Darwin Awards. The surface is the most varied possible. The only missing ingredients are mud and water crossings. There are ledges, deep sand, loose rock, hardpack, slickrock, gigantic rock rubble, and every combination of these you can imagine. This ride is extremely dangerous! Despite the inherent danger of the exposed cliff, the Portal Trail is the emergency hatch to and from Poison Spider Mesa and the Gold Bar Rim in case of a storm or accident. Two deaths almost closed the trail in 1998. If we are to believe the BLM, one more is all it is going to take. This is the most challenging, beautiful, and awe inspiring mountain bike ride on earth. Treat it like it’s sacred. Respect it. Love it. Care for it. Most of all, fear it.
I started the trail early on a sunny Monday morning, from an empty trailhead. The trail starts with a climb up Gemini Bridges Road, although it’s a high elevation gain, the ride is actually not too bad. After about 20 min. climb, you dip back down into a valley and ride through a kind of canyon, this is an easy ride that takes you to the actual start of the Gold Bar Rim. this section starts off very sandy, but it doesn’t take long before you hit the slickrock, and the start of a 2-5 hour climb. I must say, unlike the guide books say, I did not have any trouble climbing the Gold Bar Rim, Yes there are some very steep climbing sections, but with the grip on the slickrock, just put your steed into Granny Gear, and just switch off.
Getting to the top of Gold Bar Rim is pretty straight forward, but connecting Gold Bar Rim to the Portage was brutal, saying this, there are easier trails to connect to the Portal, but I took the “High Rim” trail ( follow blue paint markings and cairns) This section is extremely technical and some spots are very dangerous and any errors will definitely mean death. I would rate this section a 4+ – 5+. Anyone with a fear of heights and extremely narrow sections with 800 ft drops should NOT consider this section, and follow the lower “Spike” Trail.
The Gold Bar Rim Trail is a very nice ride, it is very scenic, and has a remote feeling to it. If you like remote rides, and like playing on Slickrock, then you should definitely give this one a try. It is a very long long climb, but it is actually not too bad. This trail can be an out and back, or a shuttle from the Portage or Poison Spider.
Next time I do this trail, I will come up the Poison Spider, and down the Gold Bar Rim, I think this would make a fantastic ride.
If you do not like sheer heights, DO NOT attempt the higher route to connect to the Portage or Poison Spider, this section is extremely difficult and dangerous.
Traffic on Trail : 5 motor cyclists and 2 4×4’s
Wild Life : who needs wildlife on a ride like this!?
Scenery : Absolutely Fantastic 360 degree 3D Scenery
Other : Take plenty of fluids and energy bars. If you do not like sheer heights, DO NOT attempt the higher route to connect to the Portage or Poison Spider, this section is extremely difficult and dangerous.
My Trail Rating : 10 / 10