Set between Grand Junction and the Grand Mesa National Forest on Colorado’s Western Slope, the small town of Palisade is more famous for its peaches and wine than its biking. But that’s set to change this summer when the much-hyped Palisade Plunge debuts. Nearly 10 years in the making and a $3.2 million investment, it’s being billed as the longest single-track downhill mountain bike trail in the U.S. starting at the top of Colorado’s Grand Mesa and descending 32 miles and 6,000 feet down to town.
Though most of the single-track trail curves gently through the woods, across rock gardens, through stunning washes and dry riverbeds, and around impressive rock features, the last six miles will test a rider’s grit as they narrowly ride on the edge of several thousand-foot-tall mesa cliffs.
The first 11.8 miles of the Palisade Plunge run from Mesa Top Trailhead to the Shirttail Point parking lot. This section journeys through forest, open meadows, and along the edge of reservoirs as it meanders across the flat and rolling terrain of the top of the Grand Mesa.
This initial section of trail can be linked to Powderhorn Mountain Resort through the Deep Creek, Rim View, and West Bench trails, which we are calling The Powderhorn Plunge. The Powderhorn Plunge offers a perfect introduction to the Palisade Plunge, with an intermediate, and less demanding 17-mile ride that links you directly to the Powderhorn Bike Park downhill trails.
After Shirttail Point, riders begin the difficult descent into backcountry terrain as the trail begins the steep and winding descent off the rim of the Grand Mesa. Historic trails, wild terrain, remote vistas, and challenging trail sections define this portion of the Palisade Plunge. From Shirttail Point on, the trail is not recommended for beginner riders due to segments with extreme exposure that require a high level of skill to ride.
Regardless of which of the 32 miles you bike, the Plunge is guaranteed to offer a fast, fun, and challenging ride, complete with stunning terrain and views. The final connection into downtown Palisade and all the enjoyable amenities complete via a paved path, and on to the Colorado Riverfront Trail for further connectivity.
There is no trail quite like the Palisade Plunge anywhere in the country so make sure you check on when it will be fully open the summer and enjoy a ride for the books.
Make sure to check out Visit Palisade for the latest updates on the Plunge as well as information on all Palisade attractions.