“High exposure running right along the cliff's edge above the lush orchards of Palisade.
— Andrew Walters
The Palisade Rim Trail is a recently completed project that offers great views, petroglyphs and serious cliff-side running. The trail can be done as an out and back, or just the lower loop can be done, but the entire experience is a Grand Valley classic.
Park at the boat launch on HWY 6 just north of the trailhead rather than the shoulder of the road (illegal). Then head back south towards the trailhead and the start of the trail will be easy to locate. As with most trails in the area avoid this one after rain, especially the upper loop.
Watch your step along the edge of the cliff and be aware of mountain bikers along this section for everyone's safety. To quote the BLM warning for bikers from their published map of the trail:
"The entire Palisade Rim Trail is considered to be difficult, even by Grand Junction standards. This trail is not recommended for inexperienced riders, anyone with a fear of
edges and ledges, or those with a weak heart and a will to live. "
Be sure to keep an eye out for bikers as they are descending, and along the exposed cliff section.
From the boat launch parking, go south along the road for a couple hundred yards to a large gate where the trail starts and follows an irrigation ditch for another couple hundred yards. The trail then starts climbing, steeply at times up great singletrack with some technical rock features along the way. This first section is the steepest on the loop.
The first climb follows great singletrack and technical rock sections across dry washes as it switchbacks up ~800 feet to the upper loop connector trail. The trail is great in either direction, but for simple navigating and great views, take a right at every junction and you'll see all of the highlights.
When you reach the Upper Rim Loop, you'll see signs indicating petroglyphs just off the trail near the junction. Check them out now if you want a break on the climb, or on the way down if you don't want to break your flow. Follow signs for the Upper Loop and then stay right at the next junction. Amazing exposure along the rim awaits as you run over rocky shale, packed dirt and slickrock. The back side of the loop heads away from the cliff's edge and weaves in and out of washes to bring you back to the petroglyph junction. Head right again to see all of the trails and you'll also get a better view into some of the side canyons. Stay right again at the final junction to end up back at the road.