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Mountain Biking the Palisade Rim

May 22, 2010

Today a friend and I tried out a new trail here in the Grand Valley. At least it was new to me. I’ve been riding the Kokopelli Loops, 18 Road, and the Tabeguache trails since I started mountain biking back in 2007. They are all great trails but it is nice to try something different. So we headed to the east end of the valley to try out the Palisade Rim, which, as far as I know, was built by the guys over at Rapid Creek Cycles in Palisade CO.

We arrived at the parking area around 10AM on a gorgeous spring day. I had just come off of a one day ride of the White Rim Road a week earlier so I knew that fitness would be no problem. I assumed it would be a nice stroll up and around some canyons. We started climbing Rapid Creek Road and soon hit the trailhead. We continued to climb a dirt road that was steep enough to get our hearts pumping. The dirt road ended soon though and we turned off onto sweet singletrack, where we met Bryan, a local from Palisade who told us about the Palisade Classic mountain bike race taking place the next day. Maybe next year I’ll try it. For now, let the fun begin.

My training for the White Rim had consisted mainly of road rides because my mountain bike was in the shop getting fixed for a month. Road rides are great for endurance, which is all I need on the White Rim, but are horrible for singletrack skills. I wasn’t sure how I would hold up against the narrow trails ahead of us.

The singletrack started off fast with small rock gardens sprinkled throughout. Almost immediately we had to cross Rapid Creek. We hoisted our bikes and walked across about a 12 foot span of rushing water that came up to our shins. Once on the other side we saddled up and headed off again. The trail was a series of short climbs and descents, very much like 18 road. Since the trails here aren’t ridden as much though, they felt loose and sandy. Often it was hard to get traction on some of the climbs. And my single track skills proved a little rusty, which is not good for this trail. There are a lot of tight spaces and narrow ledges with big drop offs, and I have the cuts to prove they are not for the faint of heart.

I crashed twice, both on narrow, steep descents. After brushing myself off I got back on my bike and kept riding, just a little bit more aware of how painful mountain biking can be. The trail continued to climb and descend around bluffs overlooking Palisade and the Grand Valley. We passed an old mining camp and traversed around a couple of canyons. Soon we arrived at the petroglyphs, and I knew we were almost done.

But don’t think the trail gets boring at this point. It was a fast, technical descent all the way back to our vehicle. And the views along this descent were amazing. I’d never seen the valley from this perspective before. We continued to cruise down steep switchbacks until it made the turn around an irrigation canal and then rode the short dirt road back to our truck.

If I had to describe the trail in one word, it would be underestimated. That’s what I did. I didn’t think behind the cliffs above Palisade lurked such an intense section of trail. I will be back, and next time I’ll be sure to bring my “A” game.


From → Mountain Biking

  1. Johnny permalink

    Great article! Never get too confident. There always seems to be something ready to humble us when we least expect it!!

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