MCKENZIE LANGE/The Daily Sentinel

A view from a segment of the Palisade Plunge Trail.

The top and bottom sections of the Palisade Plunge trail are now connected and Singletrack Trails, the company building the trail, has completed its work for the year.

Most of the construction on the entire trail, top to bottom, has been completed, Singletrack Trails Marketing Coordinator Tyler Henderson said. That construction began on the lower half of the trail in July of 2019.

There will be some finish work to be done in the spring once the snow melts, including some road crossings and signage.

“Primary construction is done and both of our phases from the top and the bottom have connected,” Henderson said. “We still have a little bit of work in the spring regarding some touch up in the trail corridor, as well as some things like road crossings, but I’d say 95% of the actual trail is complete.”

Snow has been flying on the Grand Mesa for weeks, but Henderson said they were lucky enough with the weather to finish connecting the trail and complete the technical John Otto Wall section. He said toward the end, though, the snow had closed in.

“We finished in 6 to 8 inches of snow in a blizzard,” Henderson said. “Some of our guys were hauling culverts and drainage pipes. It was all hands on deck to try to get this done before the ground started to freeze.”

The trail remains closed and Henderson said having the winter for the trail to sit is important.

He said newly constructed trails can be difficult to ride and the time spent under snow and without riders will help the final product.

“Having the entire trail in for winter and to let that settle has been a huge goal for us and we couldn’t be happier that we got it done,” Henderson said.

Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail Association (COPMOBA) President Scott Winans said even though there will be between two and four weeks of work left to complete in the spring, he is happy with the progress the crews made.

He said there is other work that has to be finished over the winter before the trail can open as well.

“Over the winter we need to get a couple of planning things completed,” Winans said. “We still have to get the emergency response plan with Mesa County Search and Rescue finalized and also the monitoring and maintenance plan, which was an important part of our funding situation.”

Overall, Winans said he’s excited to be so close to having the trail ready for the public to ride it. He said on the occasions where he has gotten to ride sections with other people, he’s enjoyed seeing their reactions.

“From all the comments on the media trips where we had folks out on the trail, everybody is generally kind of stunned,” Winans said. “They’re kind of rolling their eyes a bit and it’s kind of like, woah, big project!”

Both Winans and Henderson credited everyone who was part of the process from municipalities and federal land managers to the volunteers and donors. Winans said one donor stuck out to him who could only give a dollar, but still wanted to help. He said everyone who heard about the project wanted to help see it completed.

“Everybody really had to pitch in to make this work and everyone really did pitch in,” Winans said. “We wouldn’t be here without everybody playing a pretty substantial part.”