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Palisade Rim Trail Offers The Perfect Spring Hike

The perfect Western Colorado hike is waiting for you on the outskirts of town. Imagine an excellent trail with fantastic scenery, a wide variety of vegetation, and fascinating rock features, all just moments away from downtown Palisade. Make the Palisade Rim Trail your next hike.

Let’s get the embarrassing part out of the way right from the get-go. I was born and raised in Grand Junction, and until this last weekend had never hiked Palisade Rim. Don’t ask me how this one got by me. My family lived in Palisade for generations. Oops.

Accessing the trail is easy. You’ll find ample parking at the trailhead. To find the parking area, head east through Palisade until you cross the Colorado River. From there, turn onto G Road. You’ll find the parking area right along the river.

Palisade Rim Trailhead
Google Maps

Many people park in a pullout on the side of G  Road. While that works, it seems a bit unnecessary. During Sunday’s hike, many people parked on the side of the road, and yet the parking area at the nearby trailhead was half empty.

This trail is nothing short of magnificent. While several websites rate the trail as “strenuous,” that designation seems a bit harsh. Looking back, three individual locations come to mind which one could consider challenging. Ultimately, though, it is no more difficult than most any trail you would find in Bangs Canyon or Lunch Loop.  It certainly isn’t as difficult as the nearby Mt. Garfield hike.

Some of the highlights of this trail include:

  • View of the Bookcliffs
  • The trail is incredibly easy to follow
  • Amazing rock features
  • Greater variation in altitude than most area trails

The hike consists of two loops. To date, I’ve only walked the lower portion. To hike this trail you’re looking at investing a good three hours of your time. There aren’t facilities to speak of, so bring water.

The cycling crowd might find this trail a bit more challenging than the hikers. The lower loop covers quite a bit of elevation in a relatively short distance. During Sunday’s hike, a number of cyclists threw in the towel about a third of the way along the lower loop.

Take a look at the photo gallery above and you’ll notice several instances where shade consumes the bulk of the shot. My hike set out at roughly 8:30 in the morning. With the Grand Mesa and all the variations in altitude, there are several areas along the trail where shade is abundant, especially when the sun is low on the horizon. As you can imagine, this can create dangerous conditions in winter months.

Given the shortage of facilities, along with the close to 1,000-foot climb, this trail has the potential to be a bit rough during the summer months. The Mesa offers shade in the morning hours, but as midday approaches, forget it. Arid terrain and direct sun could make for a scorcher of a hike.

Palisade Rim Trail may very well be one of the best hikes in the valley. It receives enough use to keep it maintained, but is far from crowded. The contrast in altitude is enjoyable and adds just the right degree of challenge. The scenery is unmatched. All this combined with civil temperatures makes this the ultimate spring hike. Make Palisade Rim your next destination.

NEXT: Hike Western Colorado's Lunch Loop Without Leaving Home

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