One-way Distance: 1.1 km
MTB Skill level:
Elevation: 9540 - 9603 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 30 mins.
Trailhead: Priest Lake Nordic Trails
Attractions: Groomed trail
The Inside Loop trail is located in the Priest Lake Nordic Trails area near Telluride, Colorado. The trail begins off of the Priest Lake trail where it makes a loop around Priest Lake. The lower section of the trail is relatively easy with only gradual changes of elevation. An optional route, with a few short hills, that we are calling the Outer Edge, is of moderate difficulty. Enroute the Inside Loop is connected to by short spurs that lead to the Priest Lake trail and also by a steep section of trail named Ski Hill.
This post begins just under 1 mile from the trailhead where a short spur from the Priest Lake trail meets up with the Inside Loop near an old cabin.
For no particular reason we decided to go around the Inside Loop in the clockwise direction. As the trail leaves the area in front of the cabin it passes 2 short spurs that run over to the Priest Lake trail. The first spur is the one that we arrived on from the trailhead.
Going in this direction the first part of the trail skirts around the east side of Priest Lake. On this day there was a rather intense snow storm in progress as we started out. The night before it had dumped about 10 inches of fresh powder in the Telluride area.
The beauty of Priest Lake and the creek that feeds it is mixed with a mild sense of concern while fighting the elements on a day like this. It was 10F at the trailhead with the wind blowing very hard at times. The fresh snow on the groomed trail was about boot deep making it blend in quite well with the surrounding landscape. Even with all of that it wasn't difficult at all to stay on the designated route.
At the southeast corner of the loop another short spur from the Priest Lake trail connects on the left. A few feet past that the short but steep Ski Hill trail also connects to the Inside Loop.
From there the trail continues along the edge of the forest. For whatever reason the fresh snow wasn't nearly as deep along this portion of the trail and the classic tracks were still visible.
At the point the trail begins looping back toward the east another trail breaks off on the left. This other trail appears to be an alternate route for the Inside Loop. As none of the trails in this part of the Priest Lake Nordic Trails are marked it is hard to confirm that with any degree of certainty. Since that segment of trail is more difficult and its length is more than some of the other marked trails we opted to call it the Outer Edge so that we could describe it separately.
The trail passes another cabin and a short spur that connects to the Outer Edge as it continues to work its way around the lake.
Near the half mile point the Outer Edge comes to an end as it meets back up with the Inside Loop.
Prevailing winds make the northeast end of Priest Lake an ideal location for drifting snow. The groomed trail is mostly buried at this point but there is just enough of an outline that it is obvious that it drops down the hill to where it crosses the creek flowing out of the lake. This is the only spot of the Inside Loop that isn't flat for the most part.