Porcupine Trail has a difficulty rating of 5 out of 10, making it a reasonably easy family trip. The views are varied and offer different sights from those seen of other trails. Here is an approximate map of the trail.
To the northwest of Castle Valley you can see the mesa and buttes that follow the Colorado River.
Castle Valley, like Moab Valley a few miles west, is a large collapsed salt anticline. An ancient sea left thick salt layers about 300 million years ago, which have since eroded with time to produce paradox valleys. Slightly larger than Manhattan Island, Castle Valley hosts several iconic features easily seen from the Porcupine Rim Trail located on the top of the valley’s western wall. One startling feature is known as Castleton Tower (or Castle Rock), and the close-by Priest-and-Nuns.
Round Mountain is 6,185 feet tall but looks small compared to the 12,000+ foot peaks of the La Sal Mountains immediately to the south. I’m told this feature was a volcano in the making, building elevation but never quite erupting. Another term for this is a “volcano plug”.
Theodore Roosevelt created the Manti Forest Reserve (named for a city in the Book of Mormon) and the La Sal Forest Reserve (Spanish for The Salt because of their white appearance) in 1906.
The forests were later merged in 1949, and now host the largest black bear and elk populations in Utah. These mountain peaks range from 12,000 feet to over 12,700 feet high and can be seen from most of the surrounding area.
The end of this day’s ride stopped under this knob which showed signs of damage as higher boulders fell and struck the sides of the desert-varnished cliff face. From this location we had great views to the west, including the Moab Valley.
Lunch at the end of the trail