The crews working on the Palisade Plunge are continuing to make progress with only the last few miles left on phase one of the massive trail construction project left to go.
“We’re cooking right along,” Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association (COPMOBA) President Scott Winans said. “Phase one is getting close to trail construction completion. We’ve still got about three miles to do and we’re ramping up with a variety of partners to do phase two preconstruction work right now.”
The project, which when completed will descend 6,000 feet from the top of Grand Mesa down to the town of Palisade, began construction last year. The first phase includes the bottom half of the 32-mile trail, which runs along the side of the mesa. The second phase, the construction of which Winans said could begin by early June, completes the last few miles between the mesa rim and the first phase and continues along the top of the mesa ending at the Mesa Top Trailhead.
While much of phase one is complete, there is still work underway, Winans said. He said there have been people who have been a little too eager to experience the new trail and gotten into the construction area. He asked people to have patience and wait for the trail to be completed before riding it.
“It’s important to keep people off,” Winans said. “Let the construction crews and the various partners get their jobs done out there. It will not be a very long time, we’re talking weeks, before this is really rideable from all of phase one.”
For phase two, Winans said the trail route is currently being reflagged to let crews know the correct trail line. Winans said the route was flagged, but needed to be finalized before construction.
“Now that line is a couple years old in terms of a physical flagging on the ground, so we have to get back out there and reflag so the construction crews can get out there and follow an exact line,” Winans said.
Winans said crews will work up to the rim of Grand Mesa from Lands End Road and then continue along the top of the mesa. He said the flatter terrain and access from multiple roads to the trail will make construction somewhat easier, but said it will still be a challenging build.
“The terrain up there is not really quick and easy building,” Winans said. “It’s still pretty rocky terrain in some of the areas and almost all of that trail up on top is going to be hand built trail also because of the type of terrain.”
The county has committed to completing phase one this year and phase two up to the rim of Grand Mesa, where there will be a trail head with a parking lot and restroom, Winans said. He said the plan is to continue trail construction as far eastward as possible, but that the full trail may not be completed this year.
So far the weather has been cooperating, he said, and that the snowpack on the mesa should be melted by the time crews are ready to work up there. He said there may be some celebration to mark the completion of the trail to the rim of the mesa, but there are no concrete plans yet.
“We want to recognize it,” Winans said. “We want to have a little fiesta to have some fun with that, but exactly how that’s going to happen there isn’t a plan yet.”
People are excited to start riding the Palisade Plunge, Winans said, and he’s excited for them to see it. Everyone will just have to be a patient a little while longer.
“Folks are really going to enjoy it,” Winans said. “It’s so neat when you get out there and start seeing these pieces of country that nobody has been in. The trail is fun, the views are neat. Just give the crews the time to get the work done.”