Go Play: Roll along Mesa County’s Riverfront Trail system
Free Press Writer
Unless you were pushing a raft in from a boat ramp, there wasn’t any way to access the Colorado River from surrounding communities in the Grand Valley before 1987, when the Riverfront Trail system was initially developed.
“There was no legal access to the river,” Brad Taylor, co-chair of the Colorado Riverfront Commission, said.
Now, cyclists, pedestrians and even those on horseback can travel along a network of trails that connect the Las Colonias Park area near the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens in downtown Grand Junction to Eagle Rim Park in Orchard Mesa.
The trail system currently extends east through the James M. Robb Colorado River State Park at Corn Lake in Fruita to 33 1/2 Road in Clifton — and west through Riverside and Monument View sections to the Walter Walker Wildlife Area, alongside Highway 6&50.
The intersection of trails near the Connected Lakes section also links to the Redlands Parkway and the Colorado National Monument.
“It’s always been an idea to try to connect everything,” Taylor said.
Partnerships with the cities of Grand Junction and Fruita, along with the town of Palisade, Mesa County and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (which helped complete the section between Corn Lake and 29 Road) have proven crucial to the development of the trail system, Taylor said.
The efforts have additionally depended heavily on those who own property alongside the river, with whom negotiations are always in place to expand the trail system.
“It’s extremely challenging,” said Frank Watt, Colorado Riverfront Commission co-chair and public works director in Palisade. “We realized the trail may be piecemealed together.”
With fundraising and construction underway, the Monument View section of the trail will eventually extend to the James M. Robb Colorado River State Park in Fruita.
“We’re hoping by late summer (or) early fall to have the construction completed that would connect Grand Junction to Fruita,” Taylor said.
Watt mentioned that the goal of connecting the section of trail alongside Riverbend Park in Palisade with the rest of the trail system is always on the table, along with plans to expand a section of trail up Debeque Canyon to connect with Island Acres State Park.
For more information on the Colorado Riverfront Commission or to view a trail system map, visit http://www.riverfrontproject.org.
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