Parks & Wildlife Trail
Miles: 3.4 one way
Time: 30mins on bike
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 39° 3.116’N , 108° 30.892’W
The Parks and Wildlife Trail is another section of the ongoing project from the Colorado Riverfront Commission. The idea of having a continuous trail from Palisade to Fruita has been an ongoing project for over 25 years now. This post describes the section that starts at 29rd and ends at Corn Lake on 32rd.
There are a few options to access this portion of the trail with the most obvious and well known being at Corn Lake. Unfortunately you are required to purchase a parks pass if you drive in to this area. The 29rd access is a small dirt parking area just off of and west of 29rd directly across from the trail head. You can also access it at the end of 30rd, just be sure to be respectful of where you park and abide by the no parking signs. Another point is the Colorado River Wildlife Area just off of Drd and about a mile west of Corn Lake, this is a fee area also. There are a couple other areas such as 31rd and a small neighborhood access just east of 31rd but neither one of these last two areas has any type of parking.
For this post the trail begins at 29rd and follows alongside an old gravel pit for a short distance as it makes its way to a little bridge. The small lake on the left often has numerous ducks and geese as well as Great Blue Herons and occasional deer strolling around the far bank.
As you cross over the bridge you can look over the rail and see a well implemented beaver dam, I actually seen the little critter there once. The trail continues over the bridge and follows another small lake for a ways. I often see and hear Belted Kingfishers along this section; they are cool birds because they actually dive under the water from the air to catch little fish with their sharp beaks. You’ll see a large culvert on your right and a road heading south. Following this old road will lead you to a secluded little lake where I’ve seen all kinds of water fowl and birds. On the left of the trail by the culvert if you look on the top of the telephone pole you will see the remains of an old Osprey nest that was active until this last summer when a windstorm blew the nest out.
The trail continues as it passes a couple more small lakes on both sides of the trail until you come to the 30rd access point. At this point the trail passes through a wide open gravel area as it makes its way to the next set of lakes and the next access point.
This next access point is the Colorado River Wildlife Area and one of two that require a fee if you drive in. If you walk or ride, no fee is required. This is a neat section due to the little gazebo and benches where you can stop and watch all the ducks and geese. After this point the trail continues past the lakes and travels through a thick section of Russian Olive trees, Tamarisk and Cottonwood trees as it makes it way to the 31rd access. I regularly see a family of deer that hang out right by the fence in this area.
After 31rd the trail continues to make its way towards Corn Lake. There are some pretty cool riparian sections through here that offer some opportunities to see wildlife including deer, skunks raccoons, quail, tons of birds and believe it or not bear scat was seen on the trail a summer or so ago.
This section of the trail ends at Corn Lake. At this point I usually take a right at the lake and make a loop around it and head back the way I came. I always take time to stop at Corn Lake and see what I can see. Different times of the year offer opportunities to watch Ospreys and Bald Eagles fishing on the lake as well as many other types of birds and waterfowl.
This section of the Riverfront Trail System is my main “stomping grounds” when going on short bike rides and it seldom disappoints, I almost always see some sort of wildlife or view that is just plain neat. Not many people realize the diverse amount of wildlife that are on these trails so close to many people’s homes. I think it is a great thing to have these trails running along where they do because they offer readily accessible entrance points and are easy enough for anyone to walk or ride yet offer options for the more rambunctious people that want to go farther.