Brittany Markert
bmarkert@gjfreepress.com

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April 7, 2014
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Go Play: Grand Valley road rides not to miss

You’re in Mesa County — now hit the road. There are many options to travel by bike between Palisade and Fruita.

Visit an orchard and grab a fresh peach or glass of wine in Palisade; pick up a slice of hot pizza or coffee in Fruita; or take in the scenery below from the top of the Colorado National Monument.

Road biking in the Grand Valley will not disappoint!

Note: The easy rides are suggested for those with children or just looking to cruise, and the hard rides are for those aiming to test their lung capacity and leg strength. Rides can also be added together for exploration and enjoyment. If you are new to the area or taking a new route, remember that A-Z roads go from south to north, and numbers accumulate from the border of Utah and heads east.

GRAND JUNCTION

Easy: Riverfront Trail — 1-20 miles

One of the great features Grand Junction offers is a paved multi-use path that follows along the Colorado River. It spans from Fruita to Clifton, plus it’s flat — perfect for a nice cruise through the valley without battling traffic.

There are many trailheads that can be caught as well, including Corn Lake State Park, Blue Heron, Eagle Rim Park, and Western Colorado Botanical Gardens. Stop along the way to enjoy views of the river and the many lakes.

Other activities: Pop into Edgewater Brewery for a quick bite to eat, or stop at Western Colorado Botanical Gardens to enjoy the flowers. Like disc golf? There’s a new public course on Watson Island, right by the trail.

Moderate: Redlands Loop — 32 miles

This ride provides up-close views of the Colorado National Monument and Grand Junction, and it climbs a little more than 1,100 feet. This is a great ride any time of year, but especially in the fall with the changing leaves.

Directions: The loop through the Redlands goes along the bottom of the Colorado National Monument. There is free parking at Lunch Loop Trails off Monument Road. From there take a left out of the parking lot. Use caution because there is heavy traffic. Head towards the monument’s entrance, take a right on S. Camp Road. Follow S. Camp until you read S. Broadway; take a left. Then follow that road which skirts along the Colorado National Monument. It also passes Tiara Rado Golf Course. Turn left on E 1/2 Road. It is still called S. Broadway. You will come to a stop at Broadway, which is also Highway 340. This is a busy road so be careful. Follow all the way down to Fruita, and go over the interstate. Once over, turn right at the light, go through the roundabout, and go to the second exit, which turns into Aspen Street. Stop by Hot Tomato Cafe or Aspen Street Coffee for a quick snack. Then continue on J 6/10. Turn right on 19 Road. Turn left on J Road. Follow all the way until you reach 24 Road. Turn right on 24 Road. Follow 24 Road all the way until you reach S. Camp again, turn left, and take the route back to the trailhead.

Hard: Little Park Road — 50-70 miles

There is nothing little about this ride. It’s good for anyone looking for a challenge and to bust a lung. This ride features great climbing and is sure to please with the views as the reward. Be sure to stop and take pictures.

Directions: Begin again at the Lunch Loop Trails parking lot off Monument Road. Head right out of the lot and ride down until you see D Road. Turn right, and then continue on. It will force you right on Rosevale Road. It again will force you to turn right on Little Park Road. Now, here is where the climbing begins. You ride that for around 12 miles until you reach D S Road. Turn left. There is a shop at Glade Park so be sure to stop there for a snack or water because resources are limited past this point. You will then continue on D S Road and it will eventually turn into a gravel road if you want to make it to the Utah border for a fun photo opportunity. You can turn around at any point and head back down the way you came.

FRUITA

Easy: Fruit Loop — 9 miles

This loop is ideal for anyone looking for a casual ride north of Fruita. You can visit Moon Farm on 18 1/2 Road, which features fun for all ages.

Directions: For this easy loop, parking can be found at Little Salt Wash Park off 18 Road in Fruita. Once you are on your bikes, head north on 18 Road until you reach L Road; turn right. Then continue on until you reach 18 1/2 Road; turn left. Ride 18 1/2 Road, which winds and ends up becoming 18 Road. Turn left on N 3/10 Road. Then turn left on 17 1/2 Road. Follow 17 1/2 down until you reach E. Ottley Ave.; turn left on E. Ottley. Then turn left on 18 Road. Little Salt Wash Park will be on your left.

Moderate: Highline Lake — 30 miles

This ride goes through the agriculture country of the Grand Valley and brings you to Highline Lake State Park, which features big, grassy areas, a large lake filled with trout, bass and other fish, and views of the Bookcliffs and the Colorado National Monument. This ride has rolling hills and it’s a nice way to get miles in.

Directions: Start at Little Salt Wash Park, but head south on 18 Road. Turn left on E. Ottley Road. It may be a good idea to stop by City Market to grab some snacks for when you arrive at Highline Lake for a small picnic. Then turn right on 17 Road and head north. Continue until you reach P Road, turn right on 16 Road, then turn left on Q Road. Follow Q until you reach 12 1/2 Road. Turn right, left on Q 1/2, left on R Road, right onto 12 Road, right again on 11 8/10 Road. You will be at Highline Lake. Retrace your route back to Fruita for a good out and back.

Hard: West Side Monument Hill Climb — 42 miles

This ride features around 5,000 feet of climbing and views that pan across the whole valley. The route is to be enjoyed during any time of the year, especially in the spring and fall. This one is to be done once in your life. Don’t forget money, lights, and strong lungs.

Directions: Start at Little Salt Wash Park again. Head south on 18 Road/Pine Street, and take a right on E. Ottley. Take a left on N. Cherry Street, which leads over the interstate. Continue south around the roundabouts and continue on Highway 340. Eventually, the entrance to the Colorado National Monument will come up on the right. Be sure to pay the entrance fee, which is $5 for each biker. The pass is good for seven days. Another key fact to remember is that lights are required on both the front and back of the bike for safety purposes. After you have paid, continue, as you will climb over the monument. Make sure to stop at the visitor center and gift shop and say hello to the employees. Once you begin heading down on the east side, you will be in Grand Junction. Take a left on S. Camp Road. It will wind through the neighborhoods of the Redlands. Take a left on S. Broadway. It again winds through neighborhoods and passes by a golf course. Take a left at E 1/2 Road. You will eventually end up at a stop sign, which is again Broadway/Highway 340. Take a left. Be cautious as this road has a lot of traffic and moves fast. Follow the road back over the interstate and left back on K Road. You’ll end up back at Little Salt Wash Park.

PALISADE

Easy: Vineyards — 10 miles

Don’t forget to stop by the local orchards and wineries along the way, like Aloha Organic Fruit and Garfield Estates Vineyard & Winery. Most have tasting rooms open during the day, so be sure to have your ID on you if you are of age.

Directions: Take a ride through downtown Palisade and enjoy the history of this agricultural town. Start at Veteran’s Memorial Park off of G Road and Main Street. Head north down Main Street. Take a left at First Street. This turns into G.4 Road. Follow for several miles until you come up to 36.1 Road. Turn left. Follow until you come upon G Road; turn right. Follow until you come upon the railroad tracks. Turn around and take the same route back to town.

Moderate: Fruit and Wine Tour — 24 miles

This route features rolling hills and a relaxed atmosphere with plenty of places to stop and enjoy the views of Mount Garfield. Stop at Colterris Winery and Alida’s Fruits along the way. For a more challenging route, do it clockwise, which features a hill that is an average of 14-percent grade and as steep as 18 percent.

Directions: This route follows the same way the vineyards path starts, but continues over the tracks and goes above Palisade through the higher vineyards and orchards. After heading over the tracks, turn right onto F Road, left on 34 Road, right on E 1/2 Road, and left on 33 1/2 Road. Once 33 1/2 ends, look for the gap in the guardrail and follow the bike path along the river until you reach a bridge connected to the path; turn left. Climb the fun hill, which will lead you up to C 1/2 Road. From there follow the road for several miles as it meanders through upper Palisade’s vineyards and wineries. Then after heading down a pretty steep hill, the road comes to a stop sign. Turn left to head back to town or go right to continue on the Fruit and Wine Tour to add a few more miles.

Hard: Reeder Mesa, Purdy Mesa, and Kannah Creek Loop — 70 miles

This ride is desolate, with no readily available water sources along the route. Be sure to pack enough water and snacks for the long trip. The route is also a good way to escape traffic and get some climbing in.

Directions: The route starts at Veteran’s Memorial Park and follows that same Fruit and Wine Tour route. Once at the top of the bike path hill, go left and an immediate right on 32 1/2 Road. Follow until you reach C Road; turn right. You will come up to 32 Road — be cautious, as this is a very dangerous road. Continue on C Road until it becomes 31 Road. Follow 31 Road until it gets to Highway 50 — again, use caution. Cross the highway and follow 31 Road, which turns into Coffman Road. Take a left on Gaylord Street. and then an immediate right on Third Street. You will again meet Highway 50, which you will cross to meet up with Reeder Mesa Road. Once on this road, it is a gradual climb until you get to a big hill. It’s a challenge and steep. Continue on Reeder Mesa Road, and once at the bottom of the road turn left on Lands End Road and then left on Divide Road. If you take a left on Purdy Mesa, you will run into some outhouse-style bathrooms. Then continue onto Kannah Creek, then right on Blair Road. You will have to ride Highway 50 for a short while, then follow your way back once you see Third Road.


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