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Porcupine Rim Trail
Route

Porcupine Rim Trail

 
Porcupine Rim Trail

Page Type: Route

Location: Utah, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 38.58195°N / 109.41644°W

Object Title: Porcupine Rim Trail

Route Type: Hiking

Season: Spring, Fall

Time Required: Most of a day

Difficulty: Hike

Route Quality: 
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Page By: nader

Created/Edited: Apr 25, 2015 / Oct 27, 2017

Object ID: 937177

Hits: 1016 

Page Score: 83.1%  - 16 Votes 

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Overview

Porcupine Rim Trail is often discussed as a classic mountain biking trail near Moab, Utah. Fantastic scenery and a length of 14.7 miles, make it a wonderful one way day hike as well.

Porcupine Rim Trail starts on Sand Flats Road some 10 miles to the east of the town of Moab at an elevation of 5800 ft. The trail heads east following the southern rim of the upper parts of Negro Bill Canyon in a juniper forest until it reaches a maximum elevation of 6800 ft where you find yourself on top of the cliffs that form the southwestern walls of Castle Valley. Below you walls and steep slopes drop 2000 ft to the bottom of the very broad Castle Valley. After following the rim of Castle Valley for more than 1.5 miles, the trail heads west/northwest starting a long and steady descent on a sloped plateau until it reaches the rugged Jackass Canyon where Colorado River comes to view. The trail then descends into the canyon of Colorado River to end on Route 128 at an elevation of 4000 ft. The first 10.5 miles of the trail is a rough four wheel drive road and the rest is a single track closed to motorized vehicles. The hike is usually done from Sand Flats Road to Route 128 (1000 ft of uphill followed by 2800 ft of downhill).

A day hike on Porcupine Rim Trail will require a car shuttle. There are commercial operations in Moab that for a fee, drop off bikers at Sand Flats Trailhead. Once the bikers reach Route 128, they continue to bike on a paved bike trail an additional 5 miles to reach their car in Moab. For the hiker, however, the 20+ mile hike may become too much, therefore a car shuttle will be most appropriate.


Map of Porcupine Rim Trail
Map

Getting There

Sand Flats Trailhead:

From the center of Moab at Main St. (Route 191) and Center Street turn east onto Center Street and go 4 blocks to East Fourth Street and turn south (right). Continue south and turn east onto East Mill Creek Drive. Go straight to a 3 way at a stop sign. Going straight will get you on Sand Flats Road. After 1.6 miles, you will reach the toll booth for Sand Flats Area. Continue another 7 miles and look for trailhead on the left. Sand Flats Road is a well graded dirt road and under normal conditions, should be passable by any car.




Route 128 Trailhead:

From the intersection of Route 191 and 128 just north of Moab, UT, turn east onto Route 128 and follow it 3 miles until you see the sign for Negro Bill Trailhead on the right. Immediately after this, you will see a parking area on the left (river) side of the road. This is your trailhead. If you go to the northeastern end of the parking, you will see a pathway that goes under Route 128 and becomes Porcupine Rim Trail.

Route Description

Sand Flats Trailhead Elevation: 5800 ft
High Point: 6800 ft at Castle Valley viewpoint
Route 128 Trailhead: 4000 ft
One Way Hiking Distance: 14.7 miles




Leaving Sand Flats Trailhead, the trail heads east and soon reaches a four wheel drive road. Continue east along the southern edge of Negro Bill Canyon going up in elevation.

Upper Negro Bill Canyon
Negro Bill Canyon
Upper Negro Bill Canyon
Negro Bill Canyon


The red cliffs of Island in the Sky/Dead Horse Point areas as well as the Henry Mountains can be seen in the western horizon behind you.

Looking west
 
Henry Mountains
Zoomed view of Henry Mountains


As you go east, Negro Bill Canyon becomes shallower. The trail eventually crosses to the north side of the canyon and continues uphill until it reaches the top of the southwestern walls of Castle Valley. For the next 1.5 miles, the trail continues near the edge of the walls of Castle Valley.

La Sal Mountains
La Sal Mountains
Castle Valley
Castle Valley & Round Mountain
Close to 2000 vertical ft drop
Looking straight down
Castle Valley & La Sal Mountains
Castle Valley & Lasal Mountains
Castle Valley
Castle Valley
Castle Valley
Castle Valley


Looking south at slickrock cliffs.

On Porcupine Rim Trail
 
On Porcupine Rim Trail
 



The trail then heads northwest going down a sloped plateau.

On Porcupine Rim Trail
 
On Porcupine Rim Trail
 

Zoomed view of Cliffs above Moab
 


Coffeepot Rock comes to view.

Coffeepot Rock
Coffeepot Rock


As you go down the plateau, the forest thins out.

On Porcupine Rim Trail
 
Coffeepot Rock
Coffeepot Rock
On Porcupine Rim Trail
 
Cliffs to the west of Moab
 
On Porcupine Rim Trail
 
On Porcupine Rim Trail
 


La Sal Mountains.

Haystck Mountain
Haystack Mounatin
La Sal Mountains
Tukuhnikivatz, Peale, Laurel & Mellenthin


This little horn sits near where the four wheel drive road ends. No motorized vehicles are allowed beyond this point.

Where single track begins
 


The trail now goes straight down into a broad stony valley, the upper end of Jackass Canyon.

Stony valley
 
Stony valley
 


La Sal Mountains.

(R) Pilot Mountain, (L) Green Mountain
Pilot Mtn & Green Mtn
La Sal Mountains
 


As you keep going, Jackass Canyon turns into a deep gorge.

Jackass Canyon
Jackass Canyon
Jackass Canyon
Jackass Canyon



Colorado River and Route 128 will now come into view.

Colorado River
Colorado River
Colorado River
Colorado River


Continuing down the walls of Colorado River Canyon.

Colorado River Canyon
 
Colorado River
 
Colorado River Canyon
 
Colorado River Canyon
 
Colorado River
 
Colorado River Canyon
 


Before reaching the end, the trails crosses this small side canyon.

Small side canyon
Side canyon


You will then go into a tunnel under route 128 and reach the end of the trail.

Essential Gear & Red Tape

Hiking equipment. Car shuttle needed for day hike.

You must pay entrance fee collected on Sand Flats Road. No permits needed.
For all rules and regulations look up Sand Flats Recreation Area

External Links

Map: Latitude 40 Maps, Classic Moab Trails

Images

Stony valleyJackass CanyonColorado RiverColorado RiverColorado River CanyonMap of Porcupine Rim TrailHaystck Mountain
Colorado RiverSmall side canyonCastle ValleyJackass CanyonLa Sal MountainsUpper Negro Bill CanyonOn Porcupine Rim Trail
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