Portal Trail

Moab

Experience death-defying heights and jaw-dropping views from the exposed Portal Trail.

Hiking Severe

Distance
7.2 km
Ascent
370 m
Descent
370 m
Duration
2-3 hrs
Low Point
1.2 km
High Point
1.5 km
Gradient
11˚
Portal Trail Map

The Portal Trail may just be the most visually-stunning and easily-accessible hike in Moab. The beginning of the hike is located right off the pavement on Potash road and from there, you begin climbing immediately up the narrow, rocky trail.

Description

The singletrack climbs rapidly, working its way up onto the side of the cliff face, overlooking the valley below. Quickly, the climb through the rocks gives way to a narrow, bench cut singletrack with staggering drop-offs on the right side. This cliff exposure provides stunning views that will have you stopping constantly, whipping your camera out, and snapping photo after photo.

As you climb, the views only get better and better. Eventually, if you hike all the way to the end of the mapped route, you will gain the very top of the rim. From the top, you’ll also enjoy views to the west… and if you tack on a touch more climbing, you can access true 360-degree views of the region.

This rim is one of the highest points in Moab, save for the neighboring La Sal mountains, and words typed into a keyboard can’t do the majesty of the vista justice. Exposed red and brown bedrock ripples outward for miles. Arches in the nearby national park of the same name are visible from the top. The La Sal mountains tower above the entire scene, providing a stark juxtaposition to the desert with their deep snowpack all spring long.

As you hike, be aware of mountain bikers descending the trail. Portal happens to be one of the most difficult—and thus, attractive—mountain bike trails in the world. On your hike, you’ll see signs warning mountain bikers to dismount in particularly difficult sections. Several mountain bikers have fallen to their deaths from this trail in the past. As such, it’s best to show courtesy to the riders and allow them to pass unhindered.

Despite some bike traffic, this trail is well-worth adding to your Moab hiking itinerary!

Difficulty

Severe

Hiking challenging trails where simple scrambling, with the occasional use of the hands, is a distinct possibility. The trails are often filled with all manner of obstacles both small and large, and the hills are very steep. Obstacles and challenges are often unexpected and can be unpredictable.

Extreme Exposure

4 out of 4

Some trail sections are extremely exposed where falling will almost certainly result in serious injury or death.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November

Features

  • Picturesque

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area