Palisade Rim Lower Loop

Round Trip Distance: 4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 4685 - 5356 feet
Cellphone: 2 - 5 bars
Time: 1 hr. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Palisade Rim
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic views of valley, petroglyphs

The Lower Loop of the Palisade Rim Trail is located just east of Palisade, Colorado close to the junction of U.S. Highway 6 and Interstate 70 near the mouth of DeBeque (duh-beck) Canyon. We had first posted the trail in 2009 as the Ute Petroglyph trail. Although this has been a popular trail for local hikers for decades at the time it wasn't listed on any maps and never had any trail markers or an official name. Recently the trail has been rerouted to make it easier for mountain bikers and now, along with the Upper Loop, it is an official trail and even more popular than it was in the past.

The official trailhead is at the boat launch on the Colorado River. This is where rafters put in to float the river to Grand Junction. It is requested that people avoid parking along the shoulders of the busy highway as much as possible.

After crossing the highway the trail resumes on the east side of the road where it travels around a fenced off section of the canal.

The trail immediately begins its climb up the mountain.

The new trail with multiple switchbacks makes the climb a little easier for mountain bikers. Previously the trail cut a line straight up the side of the hill. Many mountain bikers would drive around to the Rapid Creek trailhead and begin their ride there to avoid the steep ascent.

At about the 1.2 mile point of the trail the Lower Loop begins. This post follows the loop to the left in the clockwise direction.

Most of the climbing is over at this stage of the trail but there is at least one spot that is a little more technical for mountain bikers.

The trail splits again at the 2 mile point where the Upper Loop branches off to the left. Most of the petroglyphs in the area are along the cliffs to the right of the trail.

There are at least 3 main panels with one of them on a shelf about 30 feet above the base of the rocks. At one time we referred to these as Ute petroglyphs but in actuality they may be older.

Further down the cliff to the west is a faint set of concentric circles. The 4 smaller circles that we outlined might be pot marks from someone shooting at the petroglyph.

The trail continues to loop around the cliff to where the Lower Loop began. Along the rim the Colorado River can be seen entering the Grand Valley where its waters make it possible for the many orchards and vineyards to thrive in the once barren desert. This is the home of the famous mouth watering Palisade peaches that many people look forward to every year.

There are one or two picnic tables near the trailhead. The river is fishable from the banks but be sure to throw back any suckers or pikeminnow that you catch. They can be common here but the Colorado pikeminnow and several sucker species are on the endangered list. The Lower Loop of the Palisade Rim is very popular with hikers and the Upper Loop is attracting mountain bikers from around the country. We also get quite a few hits from people that have heard about the petroglyphs. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is grab your bike or 'Take a hike'.