Round Trip Distance: 3.5 miles
Elevation: 4556 - 4593 feet
Cellphone: 3-4 bars
Usage: Hiking - Biking - Equestrian - Dogs
Time: 1 hr.
Facilities: Flush toilets at Butterfly House and Riverside Park
Trailhead: Riverside or Watson Island
Attractions: Riparian environment, paved trail, gift shop at Butterfly House
View Riverside Section in a larger map
The Riverside Section of the Colorado River Trail stretches from Riverside Park to Watson Island and includes what is sometimes called the Confluence Section. Most of the land surrounding the trail has been cleaned up from past heavy industrial use. Part of that cleanup included the construction of several wildlife habitats and the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens and Butterfly House.
There is a small parking area at the Riverside trailhead near Broadway or you can park at the Watson Island trailhead at the end of South 7th Street near the Botanical Gardens. This post begins at the Watson Island trailhead.
Following the Watson Island trail to the west it begins by passing behind the Botanical Gardens and continues toward 5th Street.
The trail passes beneath 5th Street and the old railroad bridge.
There are kiosks along the way that point out interesting facts that range from early history of the area to wildlife.
A backwater habitat has been constructed between the trail and the river near the confluence of the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers. The backwater habitat can be used by birds and fish during the high flow times of the river.
After passing the area of the backwater habitat the trail changes from concrete to pavement and follows the berm next to the river.
Upon approaching the west in of the trail in Riverside leaves the berm and passes behind the Riverside Park. Often times people will discontinue following the trail at this point and opt to follow the road instead.
Once through the park the trail resumes a path near the river as it continues under the Broadway bridge and transforms into the Blue Heron trail. This is also the parking area for the Riverside trailhead that I mentioned before.
The Riverside Park has a nice restroom with flush toilets that are usually open between 7am - 9pm.
It's something to watch the coal trains lumber over the old railroad bridge that seems to strain for all its worth to support the massive weight.
Each of the sections of the Colorado River trail are vitally important as they link up to make one continuous path from Palisade to Loma. Hopefully soon all the missing sections will become complete and the dream will finally be fulfilled. The land around the Riverside Section has gone through a lot of changes over the years as junk yards have made way for open spaces that at some future time will probably turn into some new development. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.