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Backpacking: Colorado > White River National Forest > Holy Cross Ranger District

Quick Facts

Holy Cross Wilderness Trails - Holy Cross District

Difficulty: Varies
Elevation Gain: varies by trail
Length: varies by trail




Satellite and Topo Map




General Description

Close-up view of Mount of the Holy Cross
Copyright: - US Forest Service
Close-up view of Mount of the Holy Cross
"IN WILDNESS IS THE PRESERVATION OF THE WORLD." Henry Thoreau

INTRODUCTION

The Holy Cross Wilderness encompasses 123,410 acres in the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains of Central Colorado. This wilderness, located on the White River and Pike/San Isabel National Forests, derives its name from its key landmark, Mount of the Holy Cross. High on the the northeast face of this peak lies a deep crevice, which retains snow longer than other crevices and appears as a "Latin" cross from a distance. The area was first made famous by photographer William Henry Jackson in 1873.

Elevations within the wilderness range from 8,000 to over 14,000 feet. These elevations support lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, aspen, and spruce/fir vegetation communities, as well as alpine tundra above 11,500 feet. One-third of the wilderness is above tree line, with the Continental Divide forming its southern boundary. The area contains a myriad of creeks and lakes. There are many constructed trails available for travel through this rugged terrain, which offers moderate to difficult hikes.

LEAVE NO TRACE

As humans, we must minimize our impacts to help preserve this resource for present and future generations.

GROUP SIZE: Holy Cross Wilderness use regulations allow no more than 25 people and/or stock.

DOGS: Please remember, dogs must be on a leash at all times! Dogs may harass, stress, injure, or kill wildlife, annoy fellow hikers, and introduce disease. In protecting the natural ecosystem, the USFS enforces the leash regulation.

HUMAN WASTE: Deposit human waste in cat holes dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp or trails. Pack out toilet paper.


TRAILHEADS:

The following trailheads access the wilderness:

Access from US HWY. 24: I-70 to Exit 171 (Hwy. 24/6), travel south on US HWY. 24.
Grouse Mountain: Proceed 1 mile on US HWY. 24 south to trailhead across from Meadow Mountain Business Park.
Martin Trail: Proceed 3 miles through Minturn of US HWY. 24 south to trailhead on the right (behind blue house).
Beaver Lake/Turquoise Lake: Take I-70 to Avon Exit, head south on Village Road to Beaver Creek Ski area. Travel 2.5 miles and park in parking structure. Follow 5 Senses trail.

Access from Tigiwon Road: I-70 to Exit 171 (Hwy. 24/6), travel south on US HWY. 24 for 4 miles to Tigiwon Road FDR 707.
Cross Creek: Proceed 2 miles on Tigiwon Road to trailhead on right.
Halfmoon Pass (Mt. of Holy Cross and Fall Creek Trails: Proceed 8 miles on Tigiwon Road to the end of the road.
Notch Mountain: Same as Fall Creek trailhead. Hike the Fall Creek trail for 2 miles to the junction with Notch Mountain trail.

Access from Homestake Road: I-70 to Exit 171 (Hwy. 24/6), travel south on US HWY. 24 for 14 miles to Homestake #703.
Whitney Lake: Turn right onto Homestake Road and proceed 5 miles to trailhead.
Missouri Lakes: Travel on Homestake Road for 7 1/2 miles to Road #704. Turn right and continue for 1 1/2 miles.
Fancy Pass: Same as Missouri Lakes trailhead.
East Fork/Lonesome Lake: Proceed approximately 10 miles on FDR #703. Trailhead on left.

MAPS:

The following maps cover different portions of the Holy Cross Wilderness. They can be purchased at district offices or outdoor recreation shops

National Forest Maps: White River and Pike/San Isabel.

USGS Quads (7 1/2 minute series): Fulford, Grouse Mountain, Minturn, Crooked Creek Pass, Mt. Jackson, Mt. of the Holy Cross, Nast, Homestake Reservoir, Leadville North.

Directions from Vail: The Holy Cross Wilderness lies to the southwest of Vail. It can be accessed from several trailheads off Highway 24, from Beaver Creek, or from Lake Creek Road, south of Edwards.

Directions from Beaver Creek: The Holy Cross Wilderness lies to the south of Beaver Creek. It can be accessed from the Beaver Creek Trail, south of Beaver Creek village, from several trailheads off Highway 24, or from Lake Creek Road, south of Edwards.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: Summer through Early Fall (NOTE: Seasons vary depending on snow depth and weather. Many trails travel through high elevations and are not clear of snow until Mid-Summer. Weather patterns change quickly. Warm sunny days can turn into powerful electrical storms. Be prepared for snow even in August) .



Current Conditions & Trip Reports
Snow line at 12,700 feet. Down trees maybe encountered on trails. Updated: 1999-07-19 17:22:00.0


Add your own trip Report! Newly re-released feature. One of the most popular features on Wildernet, trip reports allow you to share your experiences with others. This is an invaluable resource for determining what to expect on your outdoor adventure, so please participate! To prevent spamming, you must be a registered user of Wildernet in order to submit a trip report

Filed By: Kim Fenske (Copper Mountain, CO)
Difficulty:
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: October 28, 2010, conditions on Holy Cross Jeep Trail to Holy Cross City were snow-covered, ankle-deep to knee-deep. Fleeces, snowboard pants, extra down jacket in daypack, insulated boots with footbed heaters were all required. Duration of trip was six hours. Further details can be found in Holy Cross Wilderness Area hiking guide and my web-site: http://coppersnowboarder.tripod.com. Several mines and miner cabins remain at Holy Cross City. In July, the trail is surrounded by wetlands and meadows filled with dozens of species of wildflowers among lower aspen meadows and higher elevation spruce and fir forest.

Filed By: Kim Fenske (Copper Mountain, CO)
Difficulty:
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: In late summer, I recommend the Halfmoon Trail along the western slope of Mount of the Holy Cross for blue columbine, groundsel, fireweed, gentians, and other wildflowers. Encounters are likely with mountain goats and pikas. For more photographs and information, view my web-site: http://www.fenskefoto.com/index.html

Filed By: Suzanne (Centennial, CO)
Difficulty:
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Neutral
Report: I started at Halfmoon campground at 5:25AM. I'm in decent shape and used to hiking below 8,000ft. I made it to the summit just before 10:30. The boulderfield was enlightening and fun and at the same time I remember thinking these rocks are relentless. Was I in for a surprise when an experienced hiker let me tag along to descend via Halo Ridge. These boulders were sharper,less stable and there was no sign of a trail. We managed to hit all the high points across the ridges in about 2 hours. It took another hour to get past the shelter on Notch Mtn. We managed to make excellent time coming down the rest of the way. Our route of choice(Halo Ridge)was 9 miles and with John being in great shape and leading, the trip down from the summit only took about 41/2 hours. As a beginner this was a great accomplishment and way too much fun to stop there. See ya on the peaks.

Difficulty: Easy
Number of People Encountered: 0-10 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: 1234 and 1234



Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking
Yes
ICON Forest Areas Holy Cross Wilderness - Holy Cross District
Yes
ICON Hiking & Walking
Yes
ICON Horseback Riding
Yes
ICON Mountain Climbing
Yes



Related Activities
Blodgett Campground - Blodgett is a small campground, with six sites, located in the Homestake Valley south of Minturn.

Gold Park Campground - This small campground is located in the scenic Homestake Valley, south of Minturn at an elevation of 9300 feet.

Holy Cross Wilderness - Eagle Ranger District Wild - The Eagle Ranger District portion of the Holy Cross Wilderness lies to the southeast of Eagle. The different trails are accessed from either East Brush Creek or Lake Creek.

Holy Cross Wilderness-Sopris Ranger District Wilde - The Sopris Ranger District portion of the Holy Cross Wilderness lies to the east of Basalt. The different trails are accessed from various points in the Frying Pan drainage, above Reudi Reservoir.

Homestake Road - The Homestake Road is an improved dirt road which runs up the scenic Homestake Creek Valley to Homestake Reservoir. It accesses numerous trails and three campgrounds.

Hornsilver Campground - This small campground sits at the mouth of the Homestake Valley, along Hwy. 24 south of Minturn, at an elevation of 8,800 feet.

Tigiwon Campground - Tigiwon Campground is located near the end of Tigiwon Road, south of Minturn, at an elevation of 9,900 feet. Tigiwon is an improved gravel road, accessible in 2 WD vehicles.

Tigiwon Road - Tigiwon Road climbs from just south of Minturn, up to Tigiwon Lodge, Tigiwon Campground, and several trailheads.

Upper Eagle River General Forest Area - The Upper Eagle River General Forest Area includes most of the area from Minturn, south to Tennessee Pass.



More Information

Visitor Information:

Vail Valley Partnership, 100 East Meadow Drive , Vail, CO, 81657, Phone: 800-525-3875, Fax: 970-476-6008, www.visitvailvalley.com

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