Stock SUV with High Clearance and 4 Low
From waypoint 2-4 the undulating terrain will keep most lower ground clearance vehicles from continuing. In between waypoint 17-18 is where the larger rocks are, which shift from year to year requiring higher clearance and possibly 4 low.
Typically, more rock or undulated road surface. Potential rocks and/or tree stumps less than 12" tall and/or vertical ledges less than 12" tall and/or near vertical ledges or waterfalls less than 24" inches. Tire placement becomes more difficult. Can be steep. Read more about our rating system
The Bill Moore Lake Trail is part of the Empire 4X4 Loop. The road follows County Road 251 for the first few miles before it joins Forest Service Road 183.1. 95% of the trail has passing areas except at the very end when you climb down into Bill Moore Lake. It starts within a more wooded area along Country Road 251 which is filled with whoop-de-dos and washouts. Once you pass the Conqueror Mine it follows a shelf road before one last narrow switch back. It finally joins with Forest Service Road 183.1 where the forest thickens before it climbs to the fringes of timberline giving way to a general alpine and open space. Once in the alpine zone there are plenty of moderately steep climbs with loose rock. It connects with the Mill Creek and Red Elephant Hill Loop. 4 low and high clearance recommended.
1. Air Down Area
Turn right at the fence to head to the official trailhead. This is also a great location for airing down and disconnecting sway bars. The road will start climbing immediately.
2. Whoop-de-do Number 1
Continue on the main road as it climbs up this first switch back. Each year the make up of this section of the trail changes. This is a fun section of the trail to test your vehicles ability to flex.
Follow the switch back uphill, where you will navigate through more whoop-de-dos.
4. Whoop-de-do Number 2
Stay straight. Years past this was more whoop-de-do and less wash out. Today its more washout so just pick and plod your way through.
5. Conqueror Mine
Follow the switch back uphill. The Conqueror Mine was an active gold mine back in the mid to late 1800s; production from this mine helped establish the town of Empire.
6. Private Road
7. The Chutes
Optional: You can turn uphill here for a more challenging hill climb. It does get narrow with loose rock. If you choose this optional route, turn left at the top of the hill where it meets the main trail.
Stay straight: Continue straight and follow the switch back uphill. Be sure to watch for oncoming vehicles just after the next switch back, there is little to no passing area until you reach the next waypoint.
Stay right. The split ends at the same place. GPS mapping shows the lower road to be the official route.
9. The Chutes - Top
Stay straight. If you choose to come down this way, its a good idea to send a scout down and radio up as there is no passing.
10. Bill Moore Lake Trailhead (183.1) and Miller Creek Dead End Trailhead (171.2)
Follow the trail left uphill.
11. FR 171.2 Red Elephant and Miller Creek Loop Trailhead
Follow the trail left uphill.
12. FR 171.3C
Follow the trail left uphill. There are a few different lines to take on this uphill, with the right side being the more easy.
13. FR 183.1A Bypass
Stay right for an easier route. Stay left for the more challenging and scenic route. The route to the left is steep with loose rock, it is a fun climb, but 4 low is recommended.
14. FR 183.1A Bypass
Stay straight on the main road. You will have amazing views down below from this point and also get to see the hill climb you will partake in. There are several pull outs, but keep an eye on newer drivers that may not know uphill has the right of way. The trail generally gets more rough and challenging from this point forward.
Stay left on 183.1. This road eventually dead ends with 1 or 2 dispersed camping locations and includes views to the eastern plains and Denver Metro off in the distance.
Stay straight. USFS MVUM mapping shows this road as 183.1D, but signage shows it as 183.1L
Stay straight. Shortly after this area the trail will descend into the Bill Moore Lake area. It will get narrow and slightly more challenging with few passing spots. Take caution to mind oncoming uphill trail traffic which would have the right of way.
18. Bill Moore Lake
End. There are a few dispersed camping spots which can fit vehicles. Surrounded on 3 sides by nearly sheer cliffs, the lake is framed by Breckenridge Peak to the southwest at 12,889 feet and Witter Peak to the north at 12,884 feet. There are remains of an old cabin within the parking area. Be courteous and leave everything cleaner than when you found it.