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Telluride Colorado

Tracing Trails

The history of Telluride's trail names

An interesting read from our Ski School Magazine this year: "Skiing With The Masters," on how Telluride Ski Resort's trails were named.

Throughout nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Colorado, the mining industry drew people to Colorado from all walks of life and all areas of the world. Migrants dreamed they would strike it rich after finding a nugget or merely a trace of gold or silver. Until 1878, Telluride was called “Columbia.” A town in California was also called Columbia and at the request of the postal department, the name was changed. “Telluride” is a derivative of Tellurium, a gold-bearing ore found in the area. Mining was the major economic stimulus in the area until the Idarado Mine closed in 1978, six years after Telluride Ski Resort opened. From the earliest mining days, Scandinavians introduced skiing to the region as a means of transportation and, when possible, recreation. Billy Mahoney, Sr., remembers that in the early 1930’s, there was a resurgence of recreational skiing, using small engines and rope tows. As some of the early ski areas in the nation started to become reality, Telluride locals began to dream. It made sense: a beautiful Victorian town full of character, great terrain, warm, sunny climate, and an elevation that would provide winter snow coverage.

There were some early discussions that perhaps trails should be named after card games such as No Limit, Deuces Wild, Card Shark or Black Jack. Instead, the trails honor history, mining structures and claims, the women of Prospect Basin, and local legends of Telluride.

Traces of History

Coonskin Mountain is the summit where Allred’s and the San Sophia mid-station sit between Telluride and Mountain Village. Named in the early days when the Ute Indians inhabited the area, The Coonskin trail runs into town giving skiers access to 1,435 of vertical and challenging terrain from the saddle of Coonskin Mountain to the base of Coonskin Lift (Lift 7).

Galloping Goose is the longest run on the mountain, named after the series of seven railcars, also called “motors” that would transport light cargo and passenger loads. Totaling 4.6 miles of terrain, nearly 22,000 feet long, Galloping Goose gives beginners access to beautiful views and comfortable learning terrain. The world-famous Plunge, one of Telluride’s best steeps, was named after the plunger used to ignite dynamite.

Mining Claims

More than fifty historic claims are within the boundaries of Telluride Ski Resort, so it’s only natural that many of the names would serve as trail, lift, and area names. The Black Iron mining claim is the namesake for the runs off the saddles and peak of Palmyra Peak.

Iconic Telluride runs named after mining claims also include the bump run, Happy Thought, Black Iron and Palmyra Peak’s hike-to’s Mountain Quail, Roy Boy (named after the Roy Johnson mine), Calumet and Capitol, Dynamo and even Electric Shock, as well as runs on the lower mountain like Alta  and Smuggler.

The Women of Telluride

The runs that comprise Prospect Basin and Black Iron Bowl were originally to be named after the famous women of the night from Telluride’s former red light district. However, since some of these women’s names were a bit racy, Johnnie Stevens instead chose mining claims that were named after women. These runs include some all-time favorite steeps, bump runs, and glades across one of the most technical areas of terrain on the mountain. Genevieve, Stella, May Girl, Madison, La Rosa, Crystal, and Little Maude are among the women of the mining claims honored within Prospect and Black Iron Basins.

Tributes to Influential Characters

Some trails are named after people who made the resort what it is today, along with local legends that mean a great deal to the region. Kant-Mak-M was named by compiling the initials of the children of Ron and Joyce Allred, this iconic bump run in the Plunge (Lift 9) pod honors the man who envisioned and financed a great deal of the Mountain Village and substantially improved and expanded the ski mountain.

Other notable runs include Woozley’s Way (Tim Woozley), Stormin’ Norman (General Norman Schwarzkopf), Andy’s Gold (Former Mayor of Mountain Village, William “Andy” Hanley) and Millions (Robert Million, a claim owner who played an integral role in the Gold Hill terrain acquisition). Similarly, Senior’s takes you 790 vertical feet from the summit of Palmyra Peak down over 1,300 feet of slope length as a tribute to Senior Mahoney himself.

Some of the trail names have changed and will continue to change, but the history will never fade, only become more deeply engrained in the character and feel of this beautiful place deep in the mountains of Southwest Colorado.