Updated: Jul 14, 2022
This national recreation trail was recommended to us from our friends who, at the time, had been living in Grand Junction for several years. They are outdoor enthusiasts and had hiked this trail before. This was the first trail Katie and I had ever hiked that included a mountain top ridge. This ten-mile loop trail is rated as moderate and has an elevation change of about 1500 feet. When we went, there were several families hiking with their pups.
Leaving Grand Junction, we stopped in at Palisade’s local breakfast spot, Slice-o-life bakery. If you’ve read some of our past day trip blog articles, you may notice that we try to incorporate breakfast and coffee prior to departing on most adventures. This was no exception. We had been eyeing this quaint establishment for a while (mainly because there aren’t many others in town). We enjoyed a café’ latte’ and Cubano. We recommend the Cubano for its chocolatey sweetness, frothy milk, and yummy espresso. Their tasty cheddar, bacon and spinach quiche entombed in a sugar crust had me hankering for another slice. My favorite bite on the menu, however, was the peach lemon bars. If you’re a sweet tart fanatic, enjoy the sublingual sensation from this heavenly breakfast square.
Parking at the trailhead was plentiful upon our 9:30ish AM arrive. However, as we were leaving, there wasn’t a parking spot to be found. A side not I feel should be mentioned for safety is that the drive through Grand Mesa was littered with cows! I’m not sure if these are fenced in but it didn’t seem like they were as we watched several saunter across the road while we drove. Please be careful if you decide to check out this amazing flat top mountain as you may encounter these free roamers.
We only hiked about a quarter of this ten-mile loop, walking two and a half miles along the northern rim, passing Wolverine Lake before stopping where the mountain ridge portion of the hike begins. If you’re a bit nervous with heights, this may be a challenging hike for you to complete. The mountain ridge path is only about five feet wide for several miles along this trail. However, if you are brave enough to take this path, you’ll be rewarded with 360-degree views of breathtaking beauty. It’s said that on a clear day you can see upwards of a hundred miles away.
This was one of our labor-day weekend hikes and we needed a sweatshirt while walking through the shaded parts of the trail. On our way home we stopped in at the Mesa Bloom Market. This country store was a wonderful reprieve from the hike where we fueled up on splendid cups of coffee, a fresh turkey Caesar wrap and purchased a couple pounds of locally sourced thick cut bacon. The store was packed full of quality goods with everything from fine dark chocolates to homemade sweet tea. Whether you’re coming or going, I’d certainly recommend a stop to this local establishment for replenishing provisions.
If you haven’t had enough excitement for one day, check out another easy and enjoyable 4 mile out and back hike along the Vega Reservoir in Vega State Park. This pea-gravel trail is great for any age group as it’s slight rolling inclines and declines hug 64 6/10 road and the lake’s shoreline. With patches of shade trees every few yards, it’s quite enjoyable to hike, even on a cloudless day. Bring a swimsuit and a stand up paddleboard to enjoy the warmer water temperatures. I’d recommend purchasing a state park parking pass ahead of time through the Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s website.
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