Route: West Portal Point (UT)

Utah, US
5.87 mi
Vertical Gain
1,473 m

There are great trails in Moab, and this is one of the best.  It is an Ascent Out-Back to one of the most beautiful summits anywhere.  It cranks up the infamous Portal Trail, then goes cross-country to what looks like an impossible sandstone dome, then ascends that via a surprisingly easy route.

Start/Finish is the parking lot in the Jaycee Park Campground on UT 279, 8 miles from downtown Moab. Do not use the short spur trails that come off the road that shortcut the route.

Crank up the Portal Trail, yielding to any downhill mountain bikers (it’s easy for you to step off the trail while very hard for them).  The Portal Viewpoint is after about a mile and is a stunning - the Colorado River is 900’ directly below.  Shortly after that notice the red “Dismount Now!” sign facing uphill - it was about here that a biker fell off the cliff and died.

The Portal Trail now flattens out and parallels the cliffs above, which although short, are impenetrable.  At about the 2mi mark and about 250m before the trail crests the ridge, there is a break in the cliffs; leave the trail and scamper through the break onto the south side of the ridge which is gentle.  Turn sharply left, and go cross-country with no trail or markings, always staying about 50m below the crest of the ridge to the south.  Navigation is easy as soon the summit will come into view, and one heads directly toward it.  Know what crypto-biotic soil is and don’t step on it - only step in dry wash beds or on rock - fortunately this route is almost entirely on bare rock so is sustainable.

Nearing the sandstone dome a jeep track is encountered - cross it and keep going uphill, regaining the track a little higher, and follow it around left (north) side of the dome where it dead-ends.  At this point a circuitous route up the dome can be seen through the trees, which is surprisingly moderate. Go up the slab to the right, then up left, and shortly you pop out on the slickrock top with big views in all directions.  Continue another .2 miles to the highest point.  This is 3rd class at most, no special shoes are needed, but it should not be done if there is snow cover.  Retrace the route back down because there is no other option.

GPS Track