After completing the Mill Creek Loop, we came to the turnoff to Bill Moore Lake. It can be confusing after the three-way turn to find the trail to the lake. We turned right at the first intersection after the creek crossing and then went uphill. We knew we had found the right trail when we encountered the very steep gradient of the trail up to the lake.
There is a bypass for non-4x4 vehicles but we didn't take it, and we didn't know what it was like. It is too much fun climbing the really steep hills that make this trail so interesting. On the first hill, two options exist -- left or right. Some of us took the left path because it seemed less steep, but it does do a right turn and then immediately you are into a chute where you either go left or right. The left is better for stock vehicles since there are larger rocks on the right. Others in the group took the trail on the right, looking for more of a challenge. Once on top, we stopped for some excellent photos of Georgetown and Saxon Mountain.
It is always a laugh passing the sign for the high-clearance bypass. It would be interesting to see where this trail goes to understand what actually high clearance is given that most on the trail would be 4x4s and clearance seems to be a part of being a 4x4 vehicle. It is doubtful a AWD vehicle could get up the initial steep hill without a lot of challenges.
We came to the final confusing turn. It feels wrong to go left on a trail less wide than the trail going straight ahead. You would think to go straight but you turn left. Everyone made the turn.
Finally, we crested on top of the highest spot at about 11,500 feet. Because we kept postponing the trip, this was the first weekend you could actually get to the lake. The previous weekend, right after the long descent, snow completely blocked the trail.
The only spot where we had snow to deal with was in a bog right before the lake. Sean decided to try to get through the snow on the trail. Knowing winches were available, he didn’t feel like he would get in trouble. The only problem was a groove under the snow that changed his plane so he almost scraped a downed tree. Going back, Sean had Mark go first in case Sean was unable to get back across the snow.
On the way down the hill, a solo Jeep was coming up so we all got to the side of the trail with plenty of room for the person coming up the hill to pass.
At the lake, we initially got out and went to look at the lake. It was surprising the number of mosquitoes that were there given the cool temperature. Once we got done enjoying the lake, Niko, Mark, Matt and Carter put their vehicles up on the rocks in the parking area. One rock was taller than the Jeep and they all climbed it.
We went back to the Mill Creek trail and went down the trail into Empire. Instead of heading down to the Bill Moore Lake trailhead, we decided it was easier to just to go back to the turn connecting Bill Moore Lake, Red Elephant Hill and Mill Creek, turn right, and then another right going downhill into Empire. We got down to a large parking area and aired back up. Overall, it was a great day.
Reports from Other Days: 9
Use the arrows or dots to flip through the previews of the other reports for Bill Moore Lake. Click one of them to read more and see all of the photos from that day.