Telluride isn’t exactly a beginning mountain biker’s paradise. The steep, rocky and rugged San Juan Mountains that encircle the town (and make it so beautiful) also translate into steep, rocky and rugged riding.
Telluride isn’t exactly a beginning mountain biker’s paradise. The steep, rocky and rugged San Juan Mountains that encircle the town (and make it so beautiful) also translate into steep, rocky and rugged riding. In fact, it’s harder to find easy trails around here than advanced ones. Add to that the elevation of 8,750 feet, which makes riding tougher on any level rider. But it’s not impossible: Enter the River, Valley Floor and Galloping Goose trails, which, when combined, offer a relatively flat out-and-back cruise that will also take bikers on a exploratory ride and get their heart pumping.
The River Trail/Valley Floor/Galloping Goose is a roughly 10-mile jaunt that traces the banks of the San Miguel River as it tumbles down valley, rolls across the meadows of the Valley Floor and follows an old railroad grade into Ilium Valley. From there, it’s a turnaround and steady climb back out before returning to town.
What Makes It Great
This is a beginner ride that’s not boring. It’s relatively flat, but it does include sections of bumpy roots, bridge crossings and a good bit of exposure on the downhill. Since the Goose follows an old railroad grade, the climb back out never gets ultra-steep or technical but still entails a good workout.
Who is Going to Love It
Beginner riders, families or cyclists who are just looking for an easy wheel-spin. The Valley Floor section may also be plenty of a ride for some people — if so, it’s easy to stop when the trail hits Highway 145 and head back to town. With its proximity to the river and plentiful wildlife, the Valley Floor section is particularly good for kids who have experience on bikes.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
You can pick up the River Trail, a wide dirt path that follows the San Miguel River through town, in various locations through Telluride: at the entrance to Telluride Town Park, at the Pine Street Bridge or even at the gondola station. Head right, and follow it through town. Cross Mahoney Drive at the end of town and pick the trail back up across the street on the left side of the river. Keep pedaling; it will turn into the Valley Floor trail, a mellow singletrack with a little bit of roll that traverses the edge of aspen groves and crosses small streams for three miles before ending at Highway 145. To continue on the Galloping Goose, link up to the paved bike path that you’ll see at the end of the singletrack, and take an almost immediate left into the tunnel. After emerging from the tunnel, take a quick right onto the singletrack — a new connector trail that takes riders to the beginning of the Goose. Follow the Goose as it follows the river, and then veers left to descend into Illium Valley. The trail ends when it hits the dirt road at the bottom, Illium Road. From here, do an about-face, climb out and roll back to town.