Connected Lakes to Corn Lake a splendid outdoor trek
“Feeling snowbound?” read the press release from my old friend Deb Frasier at Colorado State Parks. “Longing for outdoor adventure with an affordable place to stay? Craving an outing in the splendor of a Colorado State Park?”
What a big tease!
“There are dozens of winter outdoor recreation activities, from birding to geocaching to snowshoeing to wandering through the snowy woods, at Colorado’s 42 state parks,” according to Deb’s release. “And, you can stay overnight in a heated cabin or yurt to break those winter blues while renewing your love of the outdoors. View the stars and cross-country ski from the front door.”
The skiing has been great this winter — both Alpine and Nordic. Yet, I was tired of driving, I didn’t want to stay overnight in a heated cabin or yurt, and the weather has been so nice in the valley, it was time for a bike ride.
Deb’s state park news release sparked a thought, however. Why not ride from one section of the Jim Robb Colorado River State Park to another?
Great idea, even though the day we rode, the high temperature mark was 45 degrees. That’s still darn cold. You have to dress warm and pedal hard.
Both Connected Lakes and Corn Lake are part of the James M. Robb Colorado River State Park, a very unique “string of pearls.”
The park is split into five sections, each offer something different:
1. Island Acres Section, known for swimming, camping, picnicking and hiking, is at the eastern end of the park
2. Corn Lake Section, known for fishing, is also as a launch site for boaters and rafters on the Colorado River. It features the riverfront trail traveling from the Park Headquarters on 32 Road, all the way to 29 Road and through the next park section, the wildlife area
3. Colorado River Wildlife Area Section, set aside for wildlife viewing, lots of improvements here recently
4. Connected Lakes Section, known for pond fishing, river fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing
5. Fruita Section, also home of the “Riverfront Concert Series,” another Jim Robb creation, features a visitor center, camping, fishing, swimming and a launch site onto the river.
Jim Robb was a Grand Junction civic leader, former state parks board member and chair, an elected representative and champion of state parks. He also helped create the Colorado Riverfront Foundation, which, along with Colorado State Parks, Mesa County and local communities, are involved in building a 35-mile river corridor trail system from Island Acres in the middle of DeBeque Canyon, to the Fruita Section of the state park.
Robb’s vision was to provide open, continuous access to the Colorado River corridor through the Grand Valley. He dreamed of numerous small park picnic and fishing areas, as well as a handicap accessible walkway open to bicycles, walkers, horseback riders (where appropriate), moms with baby strollers, kids on inline skates, bird watchers with binoculars… in other words, all of us.
We saw all those above users while riding bicycles along the Riverfront last week. We started our ride at Connected Lakes, behind the Redlands Marketplace (Albertson’s) on Broadway in the Redlands.
To get there, take Grand Avenue across the Colorado River to where it turns into Broadway. Turn right on Powers Road just before you get to Albertson’s, and drive to the state park.
Here, you can pay your $7 daily user fee (the yearly pass, of course, is only $70, $35 for seniors, age 64-over. Each annual pass is good from the month of purchase for 12 months.)
You can also park near the Blockbuster’s Store adjacent to Albertson’s, and take the Audubon Trail into Connected Lakes.
Or, simply ride along the walkway adjacent to Broadway back across the Colorado River, then catch the Riverfront Trail at Riverside. (Be careful, the trail is still icy under the bridges.)
From there, you can ride to the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens, where you’ll see a major new garden being built — the Heritage Garden, which will feature historical displays of the past century or so in the valley, including farming, ranching and mining.
Continue on the Riverfront trail upstream to the Old Mill Bridge, where the Tamarisk Coalition has been as busy as a family of beavers. The Bridge, fondly remembered as Nelson’s Folly in honor of former Grand Junction City Councilman Paul Nelson, leads to Eagle Rim Park on Orchard Mesa.
A short distance from this point, the riverfront trail moves back onto the roadway at 27 3/8 Road and continues to 29 Road. From there, you can cruise all the way into the Corn Lake section of Jim Robb’s State Park at 32 Road.
Then, you have to pedal back, dressed warmly.
Of course, we could have shuttled vehicles, but I was tired of driving.