About this Itinerary
Fresh air, exquisite views and a bit of history is what you will find when you ride the Galloping Goose Trail (GGT) in Telluride, Colorado. Located in the southwestern part of the state, blue skies and mountain tops are the perfect backdrop for this out-and-back ride. GGT is 20 miles long; the trail’s surface is gravel and dirt and includes both on-road and off-road sections.
The trail includes two surviving sections of the historic Rio Grande Southern Railroad, which was started in 1890 to connect Durango and Telluride. Crews blasted ledges along the 10,200-foot-high pass and built winding loops and trestles to haul precious metals from the mountains. The economic depression of 1893 put an immediate halt to the construction of the railroad, which many years later made it an ideal rail to convert to a bike trail.
There are many great places to stay in Telluride. Two that we recommend are the Hotel Columbia and the New Sheridan Hotel. Both are centrally located and offer an array of options. Service at Hotel Columbia is top notch. The staff is extremely knowledgeable about all the activities this resort town has to offer and is there to make your stay completely care-free. The hotel is close to everything: Main Street, shops, restaurants, bars, galleries, and bike paths. This quaint hotel has 21 sleeping rooms and fabulous views. Room sizes range from studios to three-bedroom suites. The hotel has a room to store your bike just off the lobby and many of the guest rooms are pet-friendly. Your stay includes a European-style breakfast featuring made-from-scratch pastries and quiches, fresh fruit and yogurt, homemade granola and sliced meats and cheese. The New Sheridan Hotel is rich in history. Renovated in 2008, this 100-plus year-old hotel offers all the conveniences of today with all the charm from a bygone era. Originally built with the riches from the gold and silver boom, this Hotel is located in the heart of Telluride, conveniently located to all the town has to offer.
If you need to rent a bike, you have your choice of a couple outstanding places. BootDoctors and Paragon Outdoors, a local sporting goods store and outfitter, has it all. They have mountain bikes, topographic maps, gloves, helmets, stand-up paddleboards and anything else you may need. They also offer an introductory guided mountain bike tour on the GGT where you are introduced to single-track mountain biking. They also offer rafting and stand-up paddleboarding tours. Another adventure outfitter we recommend is Telluride Sports. With locations throughout the region, they offer a wide selection of mountain bikes rentals, related gear and organized fishing and hiking trips, hot air balloon rides, and tandem paragliding. Their Telluride Sports Adventure Desk is a full-service activity concierge located at their Main Street Store.
You can start your ride at the northern trailhead at Lawson Hill, which is about three miles west of Telluride. To get there, you can choose from two routes: one is a paved multi-use path that runs alongside Route 145 out-of-town and the other is a scenic, unpaved path along the San Miguel River. Both routes join near the junction where Route 145 heads south. Here you cross the road and ride on Society Drive about half a mile until you see a large, unpaved parking lot on the right; a sign marks the trailhead. The trail ends at Lizard Head Pass, a perfect spot to stop and have a picnic. Portable restrooms and picnic tables are available. If you want to start at the southern end of the trail, take State Route 145 south from Telluride and look for the turn off past the Trout Lake Road.
GGT is about 60% single or wide track and 40% dirt or four-wheel drive roads with a bit of pavement thrown in. Although surrounded by mountains, the trail is not full of steep inclines, which means you can cover a lot of miles fairly easily.
In addition to GGT, there are many other trails for both the novice and experienced rider. You can explore old mining roads, basins high above the box canyon and try your hand at road riding along the San Juan Skyway with mountain passes and significant elevation gains. The free gondola cabins have bike racks in the summer so you can fly high with your bike!
After a day of riding, there are a plethora of places to have a hearty dinner. Perched at 10,551 feet, Allred’s Restaurant is a must visit when in Telluride. Take the gondola to the San Sophia mid-station and see the breathtaking views. If sitting at the bar, look down over the town of Telluride or eat in the dining room, which has panoramic west-facing views. Dinner service begins at 5:30 p.m.; cuisines include American, seafood, steaks and contemporary. Another place we recommend is the COSMOpolitan Restaurant and Lounge, conveniently located in Hotel Columbia. Stop by for happy hour from 4:30-6 p.m. daily and try one of their signature cosmopolitan cocktails while enjoying half-priced sushi, shrimp and calamari. If you’re still hungry, stay for dinner, which features different cuisines based on the season.
For a more casual setting, we recommend The View Bar & Grill. Enjoy the views of the San Juan Mountains while sitting in this charming, rustic, log cabin restaurant with 50 foot high ceilings while eating classic tavern food. You can get to the restaurant by taking a ride on the free gondola from Mountain Village or directly from Telluride.
Telluride, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has much to explore in and around town. Home to the greatest number of 14,000-foot peaks in the Rocky Mountains, Telluride is full of trails for hiking and biking, cafes, and art galleries.
For a breath-taking experience, visit Bridal Veil Falls, the tallest free-falling waterfall in Colorado. You can leave your car at the Valley View parking area and walk or bike or continue up the dirt road through the switchbacks to the falls. If you’re planning on driving, high clearance, 4-wheel drive vehicles are recommended. Although no vehicles are allowed past the top of the falls, you may continue on foot. The entrance to the trailhead is next to the historical power plant.
A short drive from Telluride is Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park in Moab, Utah. Arches National Park has more than 2,000 natural stone arches plus soaring pinnacles and huge balanced rocks. You will be awestruck with the incredibly beautiful rock formations. Visit Canyonlands and explore canyons and amazing buttes carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries, it’s simply magnificent.
Another fabulous day trip is Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park. Located near Four Corners, Mesa Verde (which means “green table” in Spanish) looks into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for more than 700 years. The park is home to some of the best preserved sites in the U.S. There are six marked and paved trails for hikers with various degrees of difficulty. If you want to hike one or more trail, check in at the visitor center to find the trail that best suits your hiking level and available time.
When in Colorado during the summer, it’s always a treat to spend time on the water. Choose from wild rapids to a leisurely float down the Colorado, Animas or Gunnison River. Rafting season usually begins in late May and goes through October.