Round-Trip Length: 8.76 miles (out-and-back)
Start Elevation: 10,218’
High Point: 11,511’
Elevation Gain: 1,293’ (net gain 1,978’)
Skill Level: Moderate
Trailhead Location: From I-70, take exit 238/Fall River Road. Go a couple hundred yards on the frontage road, turn right on fall River Road and reset your odometer. Drive 6.5 miles and turn left on Road 274. From here, it’s about 1.9-2 miles to the trailhead. Passenger cars can drive the first mile. Depending on your skills and clearance, you may be able to drive further. Just remember, once you park, just hike up the road and look for the trailhead on your left. Look for a place where the road looks like it splits in two.
With summer in full swing in the High Country, I was anxious to get out and do some hiking at higher elevations. I looked through my list of hikes that I haven’t yet done (as I’m always looking for a new, unexplored trail) and decided on Bill Moore Lake.
I was pleasantly surprised to have the trail to myself. It’s not as popular as many of the other trails in the James Peak Wilderness and is a beautiful high alpine hike with terrific views. All in all, a perfect hike!
From where I parked, I hiked about 0.5 miles up an old jeep road to the Continental Divide Trail crossing and took a left on the CDT and headed up the single track trail. The CDT runs 3,100 miles between Mexico and Canada and follows the Continental Divide along the Rocky Mountains, traversing five states. Only about two dozen people a year attempt to hike the entire trail, taking about six months to complete it.
The trail immediately begins a steady climb up through a thick forest.
A little less than a half mile through the thick forest, you come to a large open area with beautiful views.
From here the trail continues steeply upward with lots of switchbacks. The trail gains about 500 feet in the first 0.6 miles.
There were still a few small snow fields along the way.
Continuing on up through some open meadows.
The wildflowers were in full bloom on the tundra.
Beautiful views of the Continental Divide.
A view in the direction I was heading. Bill Moore Lake is across the meadow and down in the valley to the right just below the Continental Divide.
A view to the south. The two peaks on the right are Grays Peak (14,278’) and Torreys Peak (14,275’), two 14ers which I have climbed.
A close up of Grays and Torreys Peaks.
I had to grab a selfie of me with the Continental Divide on this beautiful bluebird sky day!
A shot of some beautiful Indian Paintbrush along the trail.
The wildflowers this summer are amazing!
Continuing on up along the ridge.
After hiking down into the next valley, I came to some old cabin ruins near the lake.
Bill Moore lake and it’s beautiful mountain cirque!
The mosquitoes were pretty bad at the lake so I couldn’t spend a lot of time just sitting and taking in the view. I kept hiking around the lake.
A couple of shots looking back to the east across the lake.
I would have liked to have continued exploring further up past the lake (there is supposed to be another lake or two further up), however, there was no trail and I would have had to fight my way through the willows so I decided to turn around and head back. One final shot of the lake before leaving.
Some beautiful wildflowers in a meadow near the lake.
As I continued back up the trail, the wildflowers continued to catch my eye.
Looking back along the trail where I had come from.
I stopped to look back and was surprised to see a hiker behind me as there was no one else at the lake when I was there. I then realized that I was hiking along the Continental Divide Trail. The guy stopped and we had a nice chat. He asked where I had hiked from and I told him the lake. I asked him the same question and he told me he had started in Mexico 6 weeks ago! It was the first time I had run into a through hiker on the trail.
I found out he was 25 and had graduated a couple of years back with an English degree and was trying to figure out what he wanted to do with his life. He has already hiked the Pacific Crest Trail and half of the Appalachian Trail.
The PCT is 2,663 miles long closely aligned with the highest portion of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade mountain ranges, which lie 100 to 150 miles east of the U.S. Pacific coast. The trail’s southern terminus is on the U.S. border with Mexico, just south of Campo, California and its northern terminus on the U.S.–Canada border on the edge of Manning Park in British Columbia; its corridor through the U.S. is in the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. The PCT ranges in elevation from just above sea level at the Oregon–Washington border to 13,153 feet at Forester Pass in the Sierra Nevada. The route passes through 25 national forests and 7 national parks.
The guy had spent some time up in North Dakota earning some money in the oil fields up there and then in the summers has been thru-hiking the country’s long distance trails. He said he hikes around 30 miles a day. He was traveling pretty light and gets rides into towns whenever he needs supplies or wants a shower, then it’s back to the trail. I often thought it would be fun to hike one of these long distance trails. It would certainly be a challenge! This guy said he figured he might as well hike now while he’s not tied down. He’s considering going back to school to get a Finance degree. He asked how far I was hiking or how long I was out. I told him I was just on a day hike and it was back to my desk job tomorrow!
He continued on up the trail ahead of me, still a lot of miles to get in before the day was over.
The trail went through a forest of twisty, Bristle Cone pines.
I continued on back down the trail to the car.
My complete route:
What a beautiful day to have been in the High Country. But, back to my desk job tomorrow until the next weekend!