The Trail One List: Portal
Life or death
The Trail One List is our guide to the best mountain bike trails in the world. We know your riding time is precious and travel is expensive. We want you to finish these rides with a giant smile on your face and a heart full of stoke, knowing the juice was worth the squeeze.
Portal in Moab, Utah, is a truly ridiculous mountain biking experience that requires expert level skills and fitness. People have died on this ride and many more have had a terrible time because they overestimated their abilities.
You may have also heard this ride referred to as The Magnificent 7, or Mag 7 as it traverses through seven different trails: Getaway, Bull Run, Arth's Corner, Little Canyon, Goldbar, Gold Bar Rim and Portal. The route I suggest cuts out Arth's Corner and stays on Great Escape.
If you want to attempt this ride you should first take on Captain Ahab to see if your technical skills are up to snuff. If you can clear EVERY feature (climbing and descending) on Captain Ahab then you've got a chance on Portal.
If you walk your bike around any of the obstacles on Captain Ahab you will be walking your bike for MILES on the Portal ride. I am completely serious. Before you ever make it to the deadly chunder of Portal, you have to get through the seriously silly test of Gold Bar Rim. You will face miles of crazy tech climbs and descents over and over again.
If you want to attempt this ride and want to see if your fitness is up to snuff, you should first take on The Whole Enchilada. If you can make it through that massive test of endurance without running out of food or water then you've got a chance on Portal.
By the way, all the REAL stuff on this ride doesn't start until about 16 miles in. Many, many riders go through all of their water, food and daylight before they ever make it to Portal.
If you make it to the Portal trail in good health after all the trials and tribulations you are in for a treat. The payoff is seriously fast, terrifying, challenging and everything an expert level mountain bike ride should be. I think it's The King Of The Double Black Diamonds for a reason.
Moab is absolutely brutal in the Summer. You are taking your life into your own hands if you go out into the 100+ degree heat thinking "It's a shuttle ride, how bad could it be?" Spring and Fall are the best times to visit.
I highly recommend parking a vehicle at the end of the Portal trail. Riding the road another 8 friggin' miles after going through hell is not my idea of a good time.
Don't do this ride alone, but don't do it with a giant group either. You will be out in the sun, waiting around for hours as your group suffers mechanicals, injuries and various other calamities. Go with a very small group of very good bike riders.
Moab is a touristy town, with tons of options for lodging and food.
My favorite choice for Mexican food is Fiesta Mexicana.
Milt's Stop & Eat is great for a burger and fries.