Railroad Grade

One-way Distance: 2.25k
Difficulty: Moderate
XC Skill level:
Elevation: 9417 - 9630 feet
Cellphone: 0-3 bars
Time: 45 mins.
Trailhead: Priest Lake Nordic Trails
Fee: $15 donation
Attractions: Nordic trail

Railroad Grade is located in the Priest Lake Nordic Trails area south of Telluride, Colorado. The trail follows a 1.5 mile section of the former Rio Grande Southern Railroad. The railroad was somewhat famous for its Galloping Goose motor coaches the first of which was built from 'Buick Master Six four-door-sedan' (Wikipedia). The motors were used to help the railroad maintain profitability for the difficult section of track.

This post begins at the north end of the Railroad Grade where it connects with the Campground Loop.

The railroad bed cuts a wide swathe along the hillside that is almost as wide as a two lane road in places.

The trail maintains an even grade that averages 6%.

Looking at the elevation profile of the Railroad Grade it can be seen that going in the direction that we did for this post it was all uphill. The slope is gentle enough that it was still easy to get a good glide going.

Near the 0.6k point the route passes the signs for the Galloping Goose trail which runs all the way down to Telluride.

Just under the 1k point the Middle Meadow trail begins on the right. Those with dogs will need to turn at this point to stay within the section of the Priest Lake Nordic Trails that is open to dogs.

After passing the Middle Meadow junction the trail continues its easy ways much as before.

Just under the 2k point another intersection comes up where the Priest Lake trail branches off on the right. There is also access to the Ripsaw, Hidden Valley and a few other trails at this turn as well as a way back to the trailhead.

Near the 2.3k point the Lollipop trail begins on the left.

A short distance before reaching the end of the trail the route crosses the boundary of the Trout Lake Land Company.

It is probably less than another 100 yards or so past that point to where the Railroad Grade comes to an end. From here all you can do is return the same way that you came but with nothing but downhill to look forward to. We took the time to do the Lollipop trail next and then worked our way back to the trailhead picking up Middle Meadow, Ripsaw, Elk Wallow, Priest Lake and Hidden Valley along the way. As far as the Railroad Grade goes if you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.