Description - 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. Recreation opportunities within the Holy Cross Wilderness are restricted to activities using non-motorized and non-mechanized devices. Hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, fishing, photography, ski touring and cross-country skiing are a few of the activities that may be enjoyed in this vast area.
Copyright: Zander Higbie-Interactive Outdoors, Inc.
Meadow and East Brush Creek, along Lake Charles Trail
- "IN WILDNESS IS THE PRESERVATION OF THE WORLD." Henry Thoreau
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 hiking.
Recreation - Recreation opportunities within the Holy Cross Wilderness are restricted to activities using non-motorized and non-mechanized devices. Hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, fishing, photography, ski touring and cross-country skiing are a few of the activities that may be enjoyed in this vast area.
The following National Forest maps cover different portions of the Holy Cross Wilderness: White River, Pike and San Isabel. The following quad maps can be used in the wilderness: Fulford, Grouse Mountain, Minturn, Crooked Creek Pass, Mt. Jackson, Mt. of the Holy Cross, Nast, Homestake Reservoir and Leadville North. These can be purchased at district offices of the National Forest or outdoor recreation shops throughout the region.
Climate - Weather patterns change quickly in the high country. Warm sunny days can turn into powerful electrical storms. Temperatures below freezing and snowfall can occur any month of the year. Be prepared for snow even in August! Afternoon thunderstorms often form in the summer. In case of lightning, move down from high ground below tree line. Avoid ridge tops and open meadows. Think ahead and get to safe areas before the storm hits.
The Holy Cross Wilderness encompasses 123,410 acres in the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains of Central Colorado. It lies south of Interstate 70 between Minturn and Edwards. Highway 24 is a major thoroughfare that provides access to trailheads on the eastern side of the region.