Galloping Goose Trail - Trail Running

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About

Summary

This gently graded, primarily non-technical trail follows an old narrow-gauge rail line for roughly 19 miles, climbing from the town of Telluride up to the 10,222-foot Lizard Head Pass—with mining ruins, old train trestles, bridges, and high-alpine lakes along the way.

Written by

Yitka Winn

Distance

19.0 miles

Destination Distance From Downtown

3.3 miles

Difficulty

2 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

5 hours

4-7 hours

Seasonality

Spring, Summer, and Fall

April to October

Dog Friendly

Yes

Some parts, but not all. Dogs are not allowed anywhere in Lawson Hill.

Fees Permits

No

Topographical Map

Galloping Goose Trail Map

Land Website

Galloping Goose Trail

Review

Intro

This gently graded, primarily non-technical trail follows an old narrow-gauge rail line for roughly 19 miles, climbing from the town of Telluride up to the 10,222-foot Lizard Head Pass—with mining ruins, old train trestles, bridges, and high-alpine lakes along the way. It’s hard to get in a long run (i.e. several hours) on singletrack in the spring in Telluride, since many trails stay snow covered well into the summer. Due to its relatively low elevation and sunny exposure, the Goose is a perfect early-season long-run option.

What Makes It Great

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.


From the newly constructed Galloping Goose Connector Trail segment through Lawson Hill, the trail is a net-downhill meander for several miles along the San Miguel River. As you pull away from the river, you’ll pass through thick aspen forest and emerge alongside a scenic, rocky outcropping. Enjoy a flowy descent into Ilium Valley.


Cross the dirt road and continue running on a gravel trail paralleling the creek. Follow signs for the Galloping Goose, which take you up a nearly four-mile gentle climb on dirt road before reconnecting with singletrack.


From here, enjoy unobstructed views of craggy 14,000-foot peaks that grow larger and larger as you continue chugging along up the Goose. You’ll pass several campgrounds before emerging at the shimmering blue waters of Trout Lake. The trail continues around the lake, deep into the woods, past the historic Trout Lake Trestle, and eventually emerges at Lizard Head Pass where, ideally, you’ve left a car to shuttle your way home—unless you want to turn around for a 38-mile out-and-back to Telluride.

Who is Going to Love It

If you’re tired of huffing and puffing on your runs—and doing more hiking than running—the Goose is the Telluride trail you’ve been waiting to discover! Compared to many of the more technical, steep trails in Telluride, the Goose offers a pleasantly runnable grade the entire way. (Though beware that from Ilium to Lizard Head Pass, it’s a relentlessly uphill climb lasting a whopping 15 miles—climbing just over 2,000 feet.)

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 run 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 run 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.

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).

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Location

Galloping Goose

Telluride, CO,
37.950039, -107.871624

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