Golden Spike, Utah ...
The Golden Spike trail is located just to the northwest of Moab, Utah and is one of the primere trails in the area. It is also one of the harder trails at a 4+ and, other than Lockhart Basin, likely the longest trail ride in the area at close to 38 miles. The Golden Spike trail is sandwiched between Poision Spider and the Gold Bar Rim trails, and is inaccessable without doing either Poision Spider or Gold Bar Rim first. I suppose you could then turn around and go back but I don't know anyone quite that crazy.:-)
There are several details to pay attention to if you plan to do this series of trails. First, starting with Poision Spider and ending with the Gold Bar Rim trail is the 'easiest' route. Note the quotes around easiest. If this is your first time on these trails I would recommend this direction first. Some of the obstacles are a LOT easier to go down than up - and the lower the ground clearence the more true this is. You must drive up the majority of the obstacles going this direction so if you can't make it up one and have to turn around and go back it's more or less all down hill.:-)
I don't recommend doing the entire series of trails without at least one locking differential. The Golden Crack will cause you to hang tires and lockers make this a lot less of an issue. I realize that there are those that do this trail circuit with near stock pickups, SUVs, etc. I ALSO know that none that I've ever seen make it without damage and there are quite a few that don't make it at all. If you're going with a near stock vehicle you should, for safety reasons if nothing else, go with at least one other vehicle. Idealy, go with someone that has already run the trail series. The length of this trail series even takes its toll of modified and heavily modified vehicles. Golden Spike tends to become an endurance drive towards the end.
Due to the length of the trail and the lack of side exits bringing plenty of water and food is a good idea. If you're going in a single vehicle I'd sugest bringing camping gear as well, just in case something 'bad' happens. Depending on the time of year the three trails can be pretty quiet so depending on a stranger to happen along and haul you to town in a couple hours probably isn't the best plan. I also don't see how you could possibly tow a vehicle out so you'd better be able to fix whatever breaks where it sits. While we're on the topic of length - plan for 8 hours with one vehicle +/- a bit depending on how many times you stop, have to stop, etc. We started at about 9:00 AM and didn't make it back to town until after 8:00 PM and we were in a single vehicle and didn't stop much.
The entire three trails consist of primarily slick rock with a bit if dirt at the top of Poision Spider and here and there along Gold Bar Rim. A few minor off camber sections - not even enough to bother me so they realy are minor.:-) LOTS of up and down on slick rock. Long steep climbs and long steep decents. GPS isn't a bad idea; when we went through the trail was well marked with painted 'white railroad spikes' on the rock. Yea, I know, 'white'? Gold is probably too expensive.:-) There are a lot of single steps and series of steps ranging in height from a foot to a couple feet. The Golden Stair is a good example. There are a couple famous nasty obstacles that have bypasses; there are a couple obstacles that do not. The Golden Crack for one. You MUST negotiate this. If you're new to 'wheeling in Moab and you've never done anything like it before go with someone who has. Breaking something here would be total badness. It does happen frequently - witness the oil stains on the rock in the pictures.
The best thing in my opinion about the Golden Spike trail is that Poision Spider and Gold Bar Rim are good starters. If either of these trails make you uncomfortable then that's the time to stop. The Golden Spike is considerably harder than either Gold Bar or Poision Spider.
Otherwise, bring LOTS of film or camera memory cards! 'Cause the views are stunning!
Some notes about the pictures: The red Grand Cherokee? 'Stuupud idjit!!!' Even professional trail leaders have to deal with people who don't follow directions. This guy repeatedly ignored and refused to follow simple instructions and almost paid the second to the final price. Roll-over. As it was he poped both passenger side tires and just before we moved on three guys were pushing on the passenger side trying to keep it from rolling. You can see the flats in the pictures if you look close. Don't ask what he was trying to do. No one there could figure it out.