The Palisade Plunge provides ~32 mi of trail atop the Grand Mesa and along its stunning west flank as it traverses and descends to the Colorado River and the Town of Palisade below.
The route begins at the Mesa Top Trailhead on Hwy 65 at over 10,730′ altitude, and covers nearly 12 miles of the topmost stretches of the Grand Mesa, moving through mixed forests and meadows to reach Shirttail Point Trailhead on the western rim of the Mesa. At Shirttail Point, the trail begins its first substantial descent through a reconstructed section of the historic trail pioneered in the early 1900s by local legend John Otto, champion of the nearby Colorado National Monument. The “Otto’s Wall” switchback section of the trail is not for the faint of heart – ride carefully!
From that descent into the flank of the Kannah Creek drainage, the trail traverses through dense Aspen groves, skirting the monstrous volcanic boulder fields from the rim above, and challenges riders back-country epic riding flavor unique to the region. Crossing Lands End Rd for a final time at ~15 miles, the Plunge descends into Whitewater Basin, crosses Whitewater Creek, drawing riders into more desert environs. The route grabs riders’ attention with its variety of terrain and views of western Colorado landmarks as it mixes sections of tech and traditional feel back-country trail, catches slickrock playgrounds, and sections of extreme exposure. The final descent along a ridgeline with views of the valley will grab riders’ attention and not hand it back freely. The final finish is a techy classic desert canyon, ending dirt at Hwy. 6 and the Palisade Rim Trailhead.
The Palisade Plunge navigates remote, backcountry terrain with some sections of extreme exposure that require high levels of confidence and skill to ride. Less experienced riders may easily get in a difficult position with no alternate routes except backtracking to Lands End Road. Trail enthusiasts are encouraged to carefully consider their experience, skills, and preparedness before taking “The Plunge”. Be sure to bring plenty of food and water with you and appropriate clothing and bike repair supplies. No directly potable water is available at the route start point or on the trail.
Plunge to Palisade highly recommends Bicycle Outfitters in nearby Grand Junction for Bike Rentals for the Palisade Plunge and any bike service or gear you might need. Check out their great selection of Rental Bikes here and use the code “PLUNGE” to receive a discount on your rental:
In this July 25, 2019 file photo, partners heave a shovel to mark beginning the Palisade Plunge Trail. When completed it will be a 32-mile single-track trail from the top of Grand Mesa to the Town of Palisade. Partner organizations include: Colorado Plateau Mountain Bike Trail… Read more