Trailridge Runners 4WD Club
Bill Moore Lake
by Rich Horiuchi, pictures by Cathy and Rich Horiuchi
July 23, 2011

Karla and Richard; Gene; Kathy and John; Caroline and Mike; Linda and Roger; Amanda and Jeff (Linda and Roger's guests); Laura and Mike; Linda and Bill; Jamie, Brian, and Lilly; Eileen and Alan; and Cathy and I (11 vehicles) met at the Loaf -N-Jug in Golden, all gassed up (I'm referring to the vehicles, of course), and ready to go. We aired down at a nice parking area at the start of the Bill Moore Lake road just above Empire and headed up.

Airing down

The road was fairly rutted as we headed up and we suspect it was because of a heavy spring runoff season. Once we got to the steep and loose section of the road (the supposed hardest spot), it wasn't difficult at all. No one needed lockers as they headed up the incline. As we climbed up, we got great views of a fish hatchery and Georgetown.

Fish hatchery and Georgetown in the distance

The mud bog area just before getting to the end of the road, which had a 3-foot snow drift that Cathy and I had to bust through (very fun) the previous week when we scouted the road, was essentially snowless this day. The mud bog is also no more, fortunately having been filled in.

Former mud bog area

Once we got to the lake, we had lunch and tried our best not to be bothered by the relentless barrage of mosquitoes.

Lunch (mosquitoes not visible)

After lunch, we enjoyed the scenery of the lake backed by rugged mountains and snowfields.

Beautiful Bill Moore Lake

Because it was still early, we decided to drive the Empire Loop. We wanted to drive the loop in a clockwise direction, but we made a wrong turn and started going in a counterclockwise direction. After realizing the mistake, we turned around (for some reason, it took quite a while to get the group turned around) and were on our way. The Empire Loop road had some fun rocky sections, a couple of water crossings (Mill Creek), and a couple of stinky mud puddles. We had fun checking out the "Empire Hilton" cabin, signing the guest book, and wondering whether we would be brave enough to stay overnight inside the cabin or would rather stay in a tent outside (I think the consensus was to stay outside).

Empire Hilton cabin

For our way down, we decided to avoid the tippy section on Red Elephant Hill and instead returned to our starting point via the Bill Moore Lake road. About half of us had a nice dinner at the Buffalo Bar in Idaho Springs (Karen and Don joined us for dinner). Overall, we had a great day out of the Front Range lowland heat.

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