|Hiking up the narrow road.|
|Second Mine we passed going up the road|
Specs: The drive up the dirt road is very rough and bumpy, I was unsure our new (new to us) SUV would make it, so we opted to park in an area on the side of the road where we did not see any private property signs. We decided we would just hike up the road, and got on our packs and started walking. The road was rough on the ankles with all the huge rocks. Eventually the road split and we took a very rough side trail up to the top of the mountain. It was here we found the signs for the Bill Moore/North Empire Loop trails and the parking lot. There are no facilities at the trailhead and very little parking, this is not a well known trail and on a Friday night we only saw 3 cars making the drive up to camp as we were leaving at 8pm. There are several backcountry campsites in the area, several with good views of the mountains beyond and we sat here to eat our dinner.
|On top of Mtn, Road Split.|
The Journey: After being turned around at Guanalla Pass we were at a loss as to where to go, and I remembered the Clear Creek website where we found the Empire Loop Trail. We were immediately confused by their directions as it stated to turn right on Park Ave, but Park Ave is also Hwy 40, so there was no-where to turn. We guessed and turned right on Main Street, a small side street in the center of Empire and continued on this until it turned to dirt. We hoped that we were in the right place, but when we drove up the road for longer than 1 mile and didn't reach a trailhead we questioned if this was the right place at all. I decided we should just stop and hike, the road was deserted, rocky and rough, just like a trail and I was sick of being in the car. We found a place that didn't have a "no trespassing" sign and parked alongside the road, however I believe we were probably still on private property.
|One backcountry site at top of Mountain|
|Rough Road, this is nothing, it gets worse!|
We took the opposite trail split going down the road and saw several more backcountry campsites, by this time we saw another three vehicles heading up the road packed to camp for the weekend and I was envious because the sites were really cool and I love camping.
Because we never reached Bill Moore Lake, we will definitely be back to hike here again; I am always eager to see what is around the next corner or over the next hill and we didn't get as far as I would have liked due to walking up the road, not the trails.
This road would be great for mountain biking and ATVing, and there is evidence both have been done recently.