Galloping Goose

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About

Summary

This gently graded, primarily non-technical trail follows an old narrow-gauge rail line for roughly 19 miles from the 10,222-foot Lizard Head Pass back toward the town of Telluride. A scenic ride, it crosses a number of roads, so with a car shuttle, it can be ridden in sections, too.

Written by

Yitka Winn

Distance

19.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

3.3 miles

Difficulty

2 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

3 hours

Seasonality

Summer and Fall

Dog Friendly

No

Fees Permits

No

Topographical Map

Galloping Goose

Land Website

Galloping Goose Trail

Review

Intro

Following the old Rio Grande Southern Railroad, this route once boasted more than 140 bridges and trestles. Only one still exists today, but plenty of other historical artifacts from Telluride’s mining days remain scattered along this trail, including an old water tower, coal chutes, railroad-tie remnants, and more.

Several options for rides exist: if you plan to ride the trail end to end and want a relatively easy downhill cruise, start at Lizard Head Pass and ride south. For a gradual but relentless climb, start outside Telluride and ride north. For a shorter ride (6 miles) with a little of both, do an out-and-back from town to the Ilium Trailhead.

Starting from Lizard Head, you’ll begin near the shimmering Trout Lake, surrounded by stunning 14,000 peaks. The trail wends its way through mixed forest, paralleling (and occasionally crossing underneath) the highway, and along the edges of ridges overlooking surrounding valleys and peaks. There are a few short, steep technical sections and one four-mile stretch of dirt road between Sunshine Mesa and Ilium Trailhead, but otherwise, enjoy relatively smooth single- or doubletrack the entire way.

Dogs are not allowed anywhere in Lawson Hill, where the first 2-3 miles of this trail lies. If you want to bring your pooch, skip that stretch and access the trail instead from Ilium Valley (if you’re southbound) or Lizard Head Pass (if you’re northbound).

What Makes It Great

Not only is the scenery great—and the terrain mild enough that you can actually look up and enjoy the views along the way!—but also, history buffs will enjoy all the artifacts along the way.

Who is Going to Love It

Novice to intermediate mountain bikers will love the gentle, smooth cruise down from Lizard Head Pass back to town. In fact, if you don’t have a car to do the shuttle yourself, several outfitters in town offer downhill mountain-bike tours along this very route.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

There are several places to pick up the Galloping Goose Trail. From the town of Telluride, drive west for three miles to the Highway 145 spur. Make a left at the roundabout (onto Highway 145 South), then find the gravel parking area on your left-hand side, across from the turnoff for Lawson Hill. Park here, then cross the highway (there is a bike-path underpass available, too), and find the Galloping Goose Connector sign just off the bike path on the west side of the highway. You can also ride your bike here from town—either on the bike path paralleling the highway, or from the San Miguel River Trail in town to the Valley Floor Trail.

To ride the route primarily downhill, you can also do a car shuttle, beginning at Lizard Head Pass—a 25-minute drive from Telluride, south on highway 145.

Location

Galloping Goose

Telluride, CO,
37.950039, -107.871624

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