Telluride’s Valley Floor—the expansive open space on your right you pass for several miles on your drive into town—is one of the region’s greatest triumphs in land preservation. Just 15 years ago, the land was on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of Most Endangered Places in the U.S. In 2008, after 25 years of legal battles, the town of Telluride was finally able to purchase the 570-acre parcel of land and preserve it forever as public open space.
In the winter, the Valley Floor hosts the most accessible network of beginner-friendly, groomed Nordic/cross-country ski trails from town. By summer, it’s mountain bikers’ and trail runners’ paradise, with roughly a dozen miles of fun, flat or rolling singletrack—all proffering clear views of the striking box canyon in which Telluride lies.
From town, hop on the San Miguel River Trail that parallels the river and head west to access the Valley Floor. After roughly a mile, you’ll come to an intersection with the Boomerang Trail, which (if you go left) will take you up a steeper, one-mile dirt road to Mountain Village. Take a right and cross the bridge to find several unmarked, unsigned trail options to explore that snake through various parts of the Valley Floor. There are many little gems for kids (and the young at heart) to discover and enjoy out here—duck ponds, river eddies, prairie-dog and badger burrows, the elk herd (keep an eye out for calves in the late spring and early summer!), a stone labyrinth, and more.
Or, stay straight at the intersection with Boomerang to remain on the Valley Floor Trail for two more miles of meandering singletrack, all the way to the highway 145-south spur toward Lizard Head, Rico, and Cortez. Come back the way you came, or pick up the bike path back to town—or run north past the gravel parking lot off highway 145 south and find an unmarked singletrack trail on your right-hand side, traveling back east. This trail will wend its way through the Valley Floor back to the trail intersection with Boomerang and the San Miguel River Trail; round-trip, this makes for roughly a six-mile loop.
In the winter, running, hiking or snowshoeing is prohibited on the Nordic trails—but you can still make use of the River Trail and Valley Floor Trails along the river, which generally stay packed out and runnable all through the winter. Note that the Valley Floor does get heavy use in the summer, particularly as a corridor for mountain bikers—so stay alert for other trail users trying to pass.
What Makes It Great
The various singletrack routes snaking around the Valley Floor are not especially well signed or marked—but, because they lie in a flat, open valley, it’s impossible to get lost. Have fun exploring!
Who is Going to Love It
Runners coming from lower elevations wanting to get their “altitude lungs” will appreciate the flat and gently rolling trails—or just anyone who wants to get in some fast, easy miles on singletrack. It’s also a great family outing, with ample picnic spots along the river and plenty of wildlife critters to spot.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Park in the free, day-use Carhenge lot on the southwest corner of town, off West Pacific Ave. Pick up the San Miguel River Trail there and head west to access the Valley Floor.