Trout Lake Railroad Grade

Round Trip Distance: 8.4 km/5.2 mi.
Difficulty: Moderate
XC Skill level:
Elevation: 9,895 - 10,226 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 2 hrs. 45 mins.
Trailhead: Galloping Goose
Fee: $15 donation
Attractions: Scenic mountain peaks

The Trout Lake Railroad Grade trail is located along Lizard Head Pass near Telluride, Colorado. The multi-use trail is groomed by the Telluride Nordic Association with a skate lane and a set of classic tracks. It follows the Lizard Head Railroad Grade section of the Galloping Goose trail from the summit of Lizard Head Pass down to the railroad trestle that crosses Groundhog Gulch above Trout Lake.

There is a trailhead at each end of the Trout Lake Railroad Grade trail. The upper trailhead is 12 miles from the traffic circle on Highway 145, just north of Telluride, at the summit of Lizard Head Pass. The lower trailhead is at the end of the Trout Lake Road that turns off of Highway 145 about 10 miles from the traffic circle. From the turnoff it is just under 2 miles to the lower trailhead.

This post begins at the Lizard Head Pass trailhead where it follows the Galloping Goose trail down to Trout Lake and back.

There is a nice half mile loop at the top of the trail that can be used to add a little to the overall round trip distance. We did see a few people that were only doing the upper loop and not the rest of the trail down to Trout Lake.

After the loop the trail begins its gradual descent down the south side of the valley.

With an average grade of only 4% the overall elevation loss of 331 feet going in this direction is gradual enough even for beginners.

Scenic views of nearby mountain peaks can be seen as the trail passes the open park of Lizard Head Meadows.

After passing the meadows the trail becomes more secluded and protected from exposure to the elements as towering pine and spruce trees line its edges.

Although it has had some stabilization work done on it the Trout Lake Trestle still stands as a picturesque monument of construction to its builders.

The lower trailhead is a little more equipped with a restroom, maps and a donation box to help cover the grooming expense.

Heading back in the uphill direction a person could stop for a rest at a picnic table that sits beside the trail.

We were the first to arrive on the day that we took the photos for this post but by the time that we finished both lots were full. There is a little room to park in front of the Lizard Head Pass sign on the north side of the road as long as you avoid the place where the snowplows turn around. The scenery along the Trout Lake Railroad Grade trail is so incredibly beautiful that it is easy to spend much of the time in awe of its rugged peaks that tower above 13,000 feet and its silky smooth snow covered meadows that sparkle in the midday sun. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.