Billings Lake

Maysville, Colorado (Chaffee County)

Last Updated: 11/04/2020
4.4 / 5 ( 7 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Partially Open
Typically Open: 07/01 - 11/01
Length: 8.9 miles
Highest Elevation: 12035 feet
Duration: About 1 hour, 40 minutes
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Travel: North
Nearest Town: Maysville
Nearest Town w/ Services: Poncha Springs
Official Road Name: Chaffee County Rd. 240
Management Agency: US Forest Service
District: Salida Ranger District
Showing 0 trails within 2 miles

Highlights

Highlight: Billings Lake
The Pride of the West Tunnel is not a mine such as others in the area. Rather it was a "Toll Tunnel" That connected the Billings Lake Valley and the townsite of Hancock to the north near Buena Vista by boring through Pomeroy Mountain. This tunnel predates rail travel through the area by 2 years. The ornate stonework with the keystone engraved with "Pride of the West Tunnel 1880" were used as the backdrop by photographers taking pictures for prospective investors. A two story hotel stood as the connecting stone structure.

Video

Weather

7 day forecast for Billings Lake

Route Information

Technical Rating:
(EASY - MODERATE)

Read more about our rating system

Waypoints

1. Trailhead (0 mi)
The trailhead is 3.1 miles off of US Hwy. 50 where the pavement ends. OHV parking is available at this point.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 38.580750, -106.209040

Starting Point: Poncha Springs, CO

From the intersection of highway 50 and highway 285, take highway 50 west for 6.3 miles. At Maysville, turn right onto Chaffee County Road 240. Drive north on Chaffee County 240 for 3.1 miles. Trailhead is where the pavement ends. Follow signs to Billings Lake.

Camping

Dispersed
Improved

Trail Reviews (12)

Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Snow and icy conditions may exist. Travel on 4x4 roads this time of year is not recommended. Expect winter weather at high elevations.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Great views. Easy fun drive. I aired down to 15psi and it smoothed it out right quick. 2000 Frontier, 33's, 3" lift, 2019 Tacoma, 31's, no lift. The Tacoma handled it fine. No clearance issues. RESERVOIR IS CLOSED to vehicles and camping, although foot traffic is allowed - USFS closed it for all the dead-standing trees being a fall-hazard. We moved a couple fallen trees off the trail ourselves. Keep your eyes open for falling trees if it's windy while you're up there! The Pride of the West Tunnel smells like sulfur - we didn't venture down it because it could be a suffocation hazard without proper air supply. Keep that in mind that gasses in the tunnel could possibly displace enough air to make you pass out.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran this for my first time and I really didn't enjoy the drive itself. It's rocky and bumpy the entire time, and not rocky like it's a fun challenge. Rocky like it's almost a dirt road in which you think you can go faster, but you actually cant because of how many small rocks are jammed in the dirt that you're constantly driving over. Definitely want to air down for this one. One way drive time was just over an hour for me. Aside from the drive, the views at the end were very nice and I enjoyed hanging out at the lake. It's a real trade off in my opinion between crappy drive but great views at the end. Views along the drive are mostly in trees with nothing to see.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Went up to check the trail on my motorcycle. Although the route was rocky in spots its pretty consistent with how the route had been in the past. Camped out in a nice little spot on Friday night. North Fork campground was still closed, however Angels of Shavano campground was open. The avalanche debris was impressive!

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Open all the way to the top, although North Fork campground is currently closed due to needing tree-removal work done. The road is not in great shape, I'd say this could probably use an upgrade from a 2 to a 3.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
According to the US Forest Service Website Covid 19 restrictions expire in the area May 31st. That does not necessarily mean that all restrictions are lifted there however, there just isn't any more information posted at this time. I will update as information becomes available. The trail is open to North Fork Reservoir, but I am unsure of the conditions up higher.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Impassable
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Snow has begun to fall in the Colorado high country making this trail impassable until next year. If travelers find gates open in this are please travel at your own risk.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
The road just opened last week and we spent the day between North Fork Reservoir and Billings Lake yesterday. Wildflowers are just reaching their peak up at Billings Lake - spectacular!

Author:
Status: Temporary Closure
Offroaded on:
Road closed sign between waypoints 1 and 2 at 240A campground turn off. We went back over to run something else. Jeep went around sign and was heading up trail. Maybe they were official... maybe just not obeying signs. There was a sign stating that the road was closed until danger from avy debris was not a threat to the public.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Per the Us Forest Service: North Fork Reservoir and higher on the trail is currently inaccessible by vehicle due to avalanche debris on Road 240. Opening may be further delayed pending removal of potentially hazardous beetle-killed Spruce trees.

Author:
Status: Not Reported
Offroaded on:
I drove this with my father in a 1956 Oldmobile 63 years ago and in a 68 VW with my wife 50 years ago. From the pictures and descriptions it hasn't changed much. Both times in automobiles we routinely bottomed out and walked the last section of narrow road. Will drive this year in a Subaru Crosstrek with Primitive Racing skid plated.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Easy trail but very bumpy and rough. One could do the trail with a stock vehicle as I saw many stock trucks, SUVs (BMW X-3), and a couple cars, however I would not recommend this. As stated in the trail description the first couple of miles is paved road but that ends and it is dirt and rock the rest of the way. The last section, once you reach Billings Lake and head around it, is only wide enough for one vehicle and there is very little room to move to the side to let other vehicles pass. Once you reach the end of the trail you can walk a short distance to an old tunnel that goes into the mountain. The tunnel was built in the late 1800's. There is a sign warning you not to go into the tunnel. Many places to camp along the trail, the scenery once you reach Billings Lake, is outstanding.

Questions & Answers (3)

Q: Could you take a trailer camper up to the North Fork Campground? Or is it too rough?
–P (08/21/2020)
–Greg Stokes (08/21/2020)
Q: I noticed in the initial description that it says "impassable". Is there a projected date for it to open back up? Thanks!
–Jonathan Warford (01/04/2019)
–Tracy Barker (01/08/2019)
Q: Should I count on about 3 hours for the out and back on this trail?
–Aaron Ketchell (07/20/2018)
–Greg Stokes (09/28/2018)

Writer Information

Greg Stokes

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Greg Stokes Is a Colorado native, born and raised in Colorado Springs. He has been off-roading since childhood, his parents say his first trip was a Jeep run over Medano Pass when he was only 14 Months old. Greg has been at the wheel of everything from dirtbikes, ATV's, early Jeep CJ5's that he has restored, Wranglers, and presently explores in a 1997 80 Series Toyota Land Cruiser and a 2016 Kawasaki KLR650 motorcycle. Greg is a proud Husband and Father of 3. His passion in the off road world is the vehicle-reliant world of Overlanding. He hopes to one day make it to Canada to Explore the Yukon and Northwest territories.
For individual use only, not to be shared.