The Portal Overlook is a great overview looking down to Moab, UT as well as the LaSal Mountains and Colorado River. It’s a perfect sunrise hike or good trail when you need something short with a great reward! This isn’t a trail you want to do middle of summer – zero shade and water, plus lots of bikers, along with the desert heat will make this miserable and can potentially burn dogs paws. The best time to hike this is in Spring or late Fall when the temps have cooled off. Winter would be okay too, just bring microspikes. While this trail is short, I still carried 2 liters of water for just me and Charlie and we both drank it all. You’ll definitely get a workout in as this climbs 800 ft to the overlook.This trail is across the river from the other popular Moab Overlook called The Stairmaster Trail. It’s hard to not compare these two as they both have mostly the same view, however there are some differences. Mainly, the Stairmaster Trail also follows/parallels a popular Jeeping route, as well as typically stays in the shade longer (it’s North facing, while The Portal Overlook is South facing), and it’s a little shorter at only 1 mile yet still gains 800 ft. Both trails continue further if you want to explore more. Overall, my preference is the Portal Overlook mainly because there are no jeeps, the South facing trail makes photos look better since it’s all in the sun, and I like the views a little better. On a Sunday morning we also saw no bikers, and only passed about 12 other hikers with a few dogs.From Moab, head North on HWY 191, then turn left onto Potash Road. Drive 4 miles and park at the Jaycee Rec Area/Campground on the right. The parking area can fit about 8 cars, but if it is full you can park along Potash Road and take the shortcut up to the main trail (shown in the map below). Here’s a driving map.Distance: 3.2 miles RTElevation gain: 800 ftTime: 2-3 hoursDog friendly? Yes, off leashKid friendly? Yes, all ages (beware of cliffs)Fees/Permits? NoneThe trail begins at the Jaycee Park Rec Site/Campground. There is a brown signs on both sides of Potash Road.Park in the main lot, which can fit about 8 cars. If this is full, you can park along Potash Road, and take a short cut to this trail (see map below). The trail starts at the dump, but this is actually convenient to pack out trash and dog poop on your way out!The Fall colors were so pretty in Mid-October!The trail is very mellow the first 10 minutes.Charlie loves exploring the desert – as long as its not too hot!Around 10 minutes reach the trail register box. You’ll see one of the short cut trails coming in from the road here off to the right (South). Even though this is an easy, short hike it’s still a good idea to check in the box in case you get lost or injured. This is also how the BLM knows how many people access this particular trail each year.Don’t forget to look back at a nice view of the Colorado River.I just love  the desert – look at all that red dirt!The trail started to gain elevation, but it is very easy to follow. As long as you follow the tire and shoe tracks you’re on the right path.Whew, even though it was only around 65-70F I was sweating on this hike! You’ll hike up a few small switchbacks and see some really cool rocks and geology.At 1.6 miles you’ll see this metal pole in the ground and now you’re officially at the Portal Overlook.Time to take in the views! You can barely see me I look so small on the ledge!Zoomed in, now you can see us!Just wow! What a cool view of Moab and the LaSals. Fire smoke started to move in on this day, so normally it would be a lot clearer but I was already impressed. Just think how fun it would be to do a sunrise hike here and brink up a backpacking chair, thermos of coffee/tea, and a blanket!Don’t forget your binoculars – you can see all the way to Arches National Park! The trail continues along the ridge and you can actually hike further if you want to explore. I wouldn’t take kids past the Portal Overlook area though. I only went to the next point and grabbed some more pics.Time to head back down. My track via Gaia GPS – the best tracking app! Hiking the Stairmaster Trail, Moab

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Hiking, Southern Utah