For the past 10 years, Colorado native Scott Winans has been hard at work trying to realize a dream. To be more specific, he and a small group of outdoor recreation advocates have been working in partnership with the community in Mesa County to clear 33.6 miles of single track from the top of Grand Mesa all the way down to the Colorado River in Palisade.
The trail, coined the Palisade Plunge trail, has required the banding together of an impressive amount of people. It spans three municipalities, crosses a plethora of water districts, and required the approval of three government agencies as well as all of the landowners surrounding and on the trail.
Soon to be finished, the trail will be nearly 34 miles long and have a 6,000 vertical foot descent. That will put it in the highest class of MTB single track royalty, up there with trails like The Whole Enchilada in Moab, Utah, and the Monarch Crest trail also in Colorado.
While this will definitely make the local mountain biking community very happy, that isn’t necessarily the greatest motivator behind the project. Trails like this are destinations that mountain bikers will travel from far and wide for the chance to ride. Just look at Moab. It is a town known almost entirely for its legendary mountain biking trails, and it has the tourism to show for it.
The Palisade Plunge will certainly attract mountain bikers from all around the country upon its completion. This will bring an influx of tourist dollars to the areas and towns surrounding it. One study projects that the trail could attract as much as 5 million dollars from tourists annually, maybe even more. This would go to benefit both residents and businesses in the area as it would bring both customers and subsequently tax dollars to the region.
Barring any funding issues, the trail is scheduled to be finished next year. I think it’s something we’re all looking forward to.