Palisade Rim Trail – Upper Section


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 Palisade Rim Trail – Upper Section
Date: 9/13/2010
Difficulty: Moderate
Miles: Approx. 6 miles round trip
Rating: 3star
Time: 4 Hours
Type: In-out
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 39° 7’5.71″N, 108°19’9.17″W
HikingSymbol MountainBike HorseBack

There are a fair number of trails located at the foot of Grand Mesa and above Palisade. One of the more popular trails is the Palisade Rim trail.

To access the trail from downtown Palisade you can head east on North River Road for approximately 2.0 miles. Once you cross the bridge over the Colorado River turn right then immediately turn right again into the little pull off area along the river. This is the same area I park when I have gone up the StageCoach Trail. You can reach the same area by following G Road on the southern side of Palisade as well. Across the road from where I park there is a canal and small building with a sign indicating “No Trespassing”. The trailhead is to the right of this small building where the canal goes underground. It’s been a few years since I have hiked this trail and I have heard that there has been a lot of work done on it so the trailhead might be slightly different, if anything it will be far easier to find and follow.

The beginning of the trail follows along the canal for a short distance then begins to climb and weave its way up the mountain. The first section has some rather steep parts to it but nothing too major. Once you get past the steep sections the trail levels off some and does a very gradual climb up. As you climb higher and higher the views of the valley get better and better.

As you continue to follow the main trail you will eventually break out of the juniper trees and come to a large open area of sagebrush and small weeds. If you follow the trail to the far end of the clearing and look to your left you will see some of the Petroglyphs. At this point of the trail you basically have three options. You can continue following the hillside as it circles around and connects back to the original trail, take the middle trial that bears to the right and drops down into the canyon and up the other side or do as I did and take the far right trail that appears to head towards the south east.

From this point the trail goes across the open sagebrush area and begins another climb up to the next bench. There is a trail that branches off to the right immediately after you cross the open space that turns and goes in a small valley and heads towards the cliff edge overlooking Palisade. I did not take that trail today so I’m not sure where it ultimately ends up. The trail gets fairly steep at this point as well. Between the angle and the loose pebbles it made footing a bit tricky at times. Once you get past this steep section the trail pretty much levels out and begins following the rim of the cliff overlooking Palisade.

The trail is very easy to follow and there are some nice views of the valley. I heard there was a local bike shop in Palisade that was promoting this area for mountain bikers. Although this portion of the trail didn’t show much use by bikes at this time, there were definitely a lot of areas where someone had done trail work such as marking out the trail, moving large rocks and blocking various off route sections.

To the best of my knowledge the trail eventually ends at a precarious cliff edge. I searched around a little but was not able to find a continuation of the trail. I did look like you could pick your way over and around all the boulders and follow the “finger” section of the cliff to the edge but even then I’d be surprised if there was a way down. Maybe someday I will have more time to explore there.

I turned around and followed the same path back up until I reached the petroglyphs. From that point I turned right and followed the hill around the back way and connected up with the original trail a little farther down.

Overall this is a somewhat fun trail, it would probably be real fun on a bike but you would have to walk it down in a few spots. Since the last time I have hiked this trail I have heard there has been a ton of work on it. The upper section now does an actual loop which adds a good 3-4 miles to the hike. Until I can get back up there to check it out again be sure to do your research so you know where you’re going for sure.


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