Get Out! Palisade Rim Trail worth a look

The views from the Palisade Rim Trail are breathtaking, but the trail is better for intermediate riders than for beginners. The descent features plenty of ledges, drops and switchbacks, but it is a fun ride.


Palisade Rim Trail

If you go: Take the usual water and camera. Maybe even a map from RIDE magazine or a trail description, so you’ll remember which way to go at the intersections. Stick a few bandages in your pack just in case one of those unanticipated rocks grabs you.

To get there: Take U.S. Highway 6 east past downtown Palisade. As you start to see the concrete canal wall on the right, look left for a small parking area and a Palisade Heritage sign just past a mile-marker sign. You’ll see PALISADE RIM TRAIL attached to a chain-link fence on the right, across from your parking area. This is the start and end of the trail.

“You have to go ride the Palisade Rim Trail. It’s so fun! At first I hated it, but now it’s definitely my favorite.”

My co-worker had been raving about the improved trail in Palisade for several weeks when I finally decided to check it out. My last experience biking in Palisade involved getting lost while attempting to ride the Rapid Creek trail, so I was skeptical. Still, lately everyone seemed to be talking about the Palisade Rim Trail, so I decided to give it a go.

With directions from my co-worker, my biking buddy and I set out early on a Saturday morning to go ride the trail before it got hot. We crept along U.S. Highway 6 looking for the “large cement wall ditch” on the right.  We found it and then saw a small parking area on the left with a “Palisade Heritage Area” sign.

Once we got out of the car and looked across the road, we saw the chain-link fence on which the large Palisade Rim Trail sign is attached. Easy enough.

We got our gear on and headed up the trail along the canal. Maybe I’m a bit of a wimp, but once the trail turned and I was biking above a rushing canal of water, I had a moment of trepidation. I just chanted my mantra of look where you want to go and made sure not to look at the canal. 

The trail is a lollipop. The “stick” portion on the way up has some tough areas. They are all rideable by someone, and maybe even will be rideable by me one day, but on an exploratory ride one never knows what’s around the next curve, and therefore must get off and walk or do a section over. Once I’m more familiar with the trail I have no doubt some of those spots will be easy to anticipate and ride up.

After climbing to the intersection, we turned left. I’d heard the trail was more rideable this direction, and for us it seemed to be.

We rode along, enjoying the shade of pinyons and junipers and stopped to discuss riding the new “Upper Palisade Rim” trail. We opted not to ride the upper portion this day just because we were taking our time examining each obstacle, and it was starting to get hot. We did, however, stop to enjoy the petroglyphs off to the right of the trail. There is a spur trail and a sign leading to them. 

Soon we found ourselves blasting down the far side of the loop. Good thing we’d enjoyed the views on the way up because we were too busy dropping ledges and rolling over roots to stop and look on the way down.

Before we knew it we were back at the stick of our lollipop. At least this time we sort of knew what to expect, just in reverse.

On the way down the obstacles here are all rideable, not by beginners but certainly by strong intermediates. The ledges are ramped, drops are angled just right, and even the switchbacks can be handled fairly easily and with some practice.

Back at the car we decided this was definitely a trail we’d like to ride some more. It has a few great areas for practicing popups and drops, and the views are stunning. We could see all of Palisade and a great stretch of the river, along with Mount Garfield watching us from across the highway.

For me, I found the climb on the rim trail similar to Pet-Y-Kes out at Lunch Loop. Not as exposed, but with several sections of technical spots like those at Lunch Loop.

If you’re at least a strong intermediate rider, I think the Palisade Rim Trail will give you a new place to ride. It’s definitely not as crowded as the other trail systems in the valley, and it has killer views and a fast bomb back to your car.

Daily Sentinel online advertising coordinator Julie Norman can’t do enough mountain biking and backpacking on her weekends. Email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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