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Running through western Colorado’s scenic Grand Valley, the Colorado Riverfront Trail provides an unparalleled biking and walking experience in Mesa County. The paved trail follows the Colorado River from Loma throughFruita, Grand Junction, and, Palisade, connecting several parks, lakes, and recreational amenities. The trail has been made with the long-term vision and hard work of the Colorado Riverfront Commission, established in 1987.
The trail opens with a bang with the stunning Monument View Section on its western end. The view in question is that of the rugged canyons of the Colorado National Monument. This 8-mile section also provides access to the Walter Walker State Wildlife Area, itself a beauty with its grassy, tree-lined river corridor. (Noter that the trail was recently extended west to Loma, where it connects with the Kokopelli system of mountain-biking trails).
At the end of the Monument View Section, the trail forks; the northern branch of the fork is named the Blue Heron Section for the Blue Heron Lake, which is its main attraction. The trail begins at the Junior Service League Park and ends at Riverside Park, a distance of 5.6 miles. Along the way, you’ll find a mixture of woodlands and marshy areas; keep your eyes peeled for bald eagles in the treetops.
The southern branch is the Audubon Section, which extends less than two miles, beginning in the Connected Lakes State Park and ending at the Redlands Marketplace. The secluded, wooded surroundings here offer ample opportunities to see many types of birds, including blue heron, osprey, owls, and hawks. The two sections of the trail meet up at the pedestrian/bike path over the Colorado River along State Highway 340 (Broadway).
From State Highway 340, the re-merged trail is known as the Riverside Section. It winds along the north bank of the river for 1.4 miles, through a beautiful natural area where the Colorado and Gunnison rivers meet and ends at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens and Butterfly House.
From the Botanical Gardens, you can seamlessly pick up the Las Colonias Section, named after a park of the same name, which it traverses. The first phase of the 101-acre park opened in 2015 and includes parking, a restroom, a bike repair station, and a water fountain; future plans call for the addition of an amphitheater.
The Parks and Wildlife Section offers access to portions of the James M. Robb Colorado River State Park, where recreational opportunities abound, including picnicking, fishing, boating, and swimming. Note that if you wish to park in this section the purchase of a park pass is required; the best access point is Corn Lake.
Farther west, the Clifton Section is named for its centerpiece, Clifton Nature Park. Here, the trail is rural and tranquil. You might see horses grazing near the river and birds wading in its calm waters.
The eastern end of the trail ends in the town of Palisade. The big draw for this section is passage through Riverbend Park, where you can access the river at Harky’s Launch. The park is a haven for wildlife; you might spot deer or even a coyote. Rest and enjoy the views at the many benches overlooking the river.
Parking is available at several locations along the Colorado Riverfront Trail, including:
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