Mountain Bike Galloping Goose

Rate this Adventure Colorado Lizard Head Trailhead

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Distance: 16 miles (point-to-point). Elevation gain: 4,300 ft. Incredible scenery. Mostly downhill, single track, mountain biking adventure. Historic sites including Trout Lake Trestle. Ride a historic train route. Waterfall, wildflowers, cliff riding and family friendly.

The Galloping Goose Trail near Telluride, Colorado is a bike ride along what once was a historic train route. Plus it’s family friendly and the scenery is phenomenal.

The starting point is at the top of Lizard Head Pass at an elevation of 10,200 feet. The scenery, from wildflowers to colorful mountains, is nothing short of stunning. The bike tour is a 16-mile mostly downhill ride that goes by several historic sites.

The first historic site is the Trout Lake Trestle. It is just a couple of miles into the ride. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, steam-engine locomotives rolled across the trestle. The Galloping Goose Trail was part of the Rio Grande Southern Railroad. Then, from 1931 to 1952, a fleet of Galloping Geese ran between Ridgway, Telluride and Durango. Mail and passengers were carried in these unusual railcars. As the water rushes by in the creek, step back in time for a moment, admiring the beauty of nature and imagining a train crossing over the old wooden trestle.

A few more miles down the trail, you’ll come up to historical marker number two. It’s a historic water tower by Trout Lake that provided water for trains and was a popular scenic stop for passengers. From the water tower you get to cruise around Trout Lake to a snack stop. It’s a great chance to catch your breath, snap some photos, and fuel up with a couple of snacks.

Back on the trail, you’ll go through more forest, including some patches of aspens. There is a gradual climb on the road, but you do get a nice downhill road ride, too, before heading back onto the trail that will take you to the cliff riding part of the ridge. Don’t worry, the trail is pretty wide on cliff parts.

You get just a taste of the cliff ride and then you’re quickly back on single track. Take a waterfall detour! The 50-foot Diane Waterfall roars into a deep canyon through the spruce and aspen forest. Story has it a lonely silver miner was so inspired by the falls, he named them after his beloved Diana.

There’s more single track after the falls, then across a bridge to the steepest part of trail. You can bust up the hill or easily walk the short, but steep part. For several miles you’ll get to alternate riding through ferns and aspens and rocky cliffs.

As you ride the cliffs, the view is amazing looking back at Ophir Valley. Glacier flow carved out the dramatic landscape of deep valleys, jagged mountains, and striking rock features.

After a little more time on the cliffs, you’ll encounter the most technical part of the trail. It’s a downhill, curve through small stream, short uphill. Don’t feel bad if you have to walk it. 90% of riders do get off and walk this small section of the trail.

The ride ends going downhill on a forest road that takes you into the Ilium Valley where the views are gorgeous, especially during wildflower season or when the leaves are changing.

Getting there: From Telluride, travel 4 miles west on State Hwy 145. Turn left at the first highway intersection, continuing south on State Hwy 145 for approximately 10 miles to the top of Lizard Head Pass.

Pack List

  • Rain jacket
  • Water
  • Camera
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How to Get There

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Added by Jennifer Broome

I'm the traveling weather chick. I'm a television meteorologist, host and reporter based in Denver. I'm a weather expert and travel expert. I'm also a travel writer. I love travel, weather, adventure, outdoors, food, wine, fitness, hiking, skiing, and yoga.

Activities:

Mountain Biking

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Summer, Autumn

Features:

Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
Picnic Area
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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