Mount of the Holy Cross Trail

HARD 59 reviews
#11 of 193 trails in

Mount of the Holy Cross Trail is a 12.5 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Minturn, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
12.5 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
5980 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

backpacking

camping

cross country skiing

hiking

snowshoeing

trail running

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

snow

hiking
1 month ago

This used to be my dad's favorite area to hike when he lived in Colorado 25 years ago. Growing up in CA it was a person goal to come here one day since I'd heard so much about it from him and see this place. Beautiful area as everyone can attest to. Difficult hike even for the physically fit. I loved it, but it was mentally challenging as you get close to the summit due to the many rock steps that lead to the top. Hard on the knee's as well. Make sure to check the weather. Happy hiking

backpacking
4 months ago

Very beautiful and very hard. You have to go over a 1,400 ft elevation gain ridge and then straight back down it before you even start to hike Holy Cross. Bring a TON of water and water filtration to refill at the stream crossing. I burned through 5L on summit day. My friend and I did it as the first backpacking trip of the Summer and it was tough over 3 days and 2 nights. Bring bug spray. Our temps got up to high 70's in the day and high 20's at night in July, reapplied sunscreen like 20 times in 3 days and still got some sun exhaustion. Once you get about 1 mile past the ridge a view opens up of Holy Cross that is the most beautiful view I've seen in Colorado.

hiking
7 months ago

A beautiful, but rigorous hike. It took me, a 54-year-old male in fairly good shape, roughly 10 hours. The younger guys were doing it faster, but be sure to give yourself enough time. Also, take lots of water. I went through 4 liters in September.

backpacking
8 months ago

This was our first 14er, so it has a special place in my heart! Probably could have chosen an easier one, considering I live at sea level and only had three days to acclimate before setting out... This trail was a really challenging in-and-out for us. Between the elevation gain and struggling with the altitude, there were points where we were taking 20 steps and pausing to catch our breath!

But the path it winds offers unbelievable views of forests, other peaks, and small alpine lakes nearly the whole way, which means you're never just slogging. You're constantly being blown away by the scenery only a 14er provides, which we'd never experienced before!

There are some tight switchbacks less than halfway that were BRUTAL for us and the last couple miles are making your way along thick scree fields, which slow you down. But there's only a little easy bouldering to get to the summit, and holy hell that view is completely worth it.

If did it again, we'd camp along the way and wouldn't attempt 12+ miles in one day without being properly accustomed to the altitude. :)

backpacking
8 months ago

We did this hike in two days on Labor Day weekend and it was quite the challenge. The initial hike with our packs to East Cross Creek took roughly 2.5 hours. We were able to share site #5 with a couple who was already there and found our own secluded spot with enough privacy. We started the ascent around 4am and the trail was easy to follow with headlamps and so beautiful to stop to admire the stars. We were about half way to the summit when the sun rose and summited around 9am. The last portion to the summit is all boulders but very doable if you stay to the left, as our small dog was able to climb with no problem. After descending back down to camp, we took a much needed power nap before hiking back UP (yes, it's not all downhill on the way back) to the car. Definitely a strenuous and long hike but safe and worth the feeling of accomplishment! As many people have said, pack way more than 2L of water. We filtered at least 6L for two people and our dog from the river near camp between the 2 days.

hiking
8 months ago

This was my first 14er I really didn't know what I was in for. I packed plenty of food water and extra layers. I was definitely tested to my limits I've done 10 mile hikes and 25 mile ruck matches in the army, but nothing was as difficult as this. I didn't let it beat me and finished the whole hike in 10.5 hours including breaks to eat and change my socks. The last 1,000 feet up are very difficult I felt like Q*bert hopping from rock to rock.

8 months ago

Amazing! 2hr hike to campsite then all day up to summit and all the way back to parking lot. So beautiful!

backpacking
8 months ago

This is a beautiful trail, though challenging. We did this as a backpack, Saturday to Sunday, making the summit on Saturday after dropping our weight at camp. Both of us are in good shape and this was a brutal hike. Like folks say, bring plenty of water & snacks!

hiking
8 months ago

I did a solo 2 day backpacking trip to climb this; hiked in and camped Friday, summited Saturday morning, packed up and hiked back out that afternoon. The hike in, with my camping pack at its heaviest, was brutal. It's an incline and elevation gain right from the trail head...finally going downhill felt nice. It only took me 2 hours and 40 minutes to summit from camp, about 1 hour 40 minutes to get back down to camp, and I went through about 2L of water (I needed an extra 1-2L for the whole hike in and out). The last hike up gets into some scrambling but pay attention to the rock tower markers and you should be able to stay on trail, for the most part. Bring snacks/energy food...you will need it. Great views everywhere.

9 months ago

This is a rewarding hike but not easily earned. The top section becomes semi- technical. The vertical gain was challenging but the views at the top were worth everything

hiking
9 months ago

This is an intense hike. I did it in two days with my hiking buddy. On the first day, we hiked over Half Moon Pass and shared a campsite with a few other parties after crossing Cross Creek. The creek is pretty much the only source of water between the trail head and the summit of Mount of the Holy Cross. From camp, I took two liters of filtered creek water and a half-liter of Gatorade with me to the summit - not enough. From camp, it's a steep and challenging trail, and once you're up above treeline, you're walking on rock for a long time.

The views are some of the best I've ever seen. The only real signs of civilization are when an airplane flies overhead. It took us about four hours to summit from our campsite, and then another three hours to get back... and while the climb to the summit was pretty challenging, loading our gear and walking back up to Half Moon Pass after hiking to the summit was the real killer. That took another two to three hours. The hike took a lot longer than we anticipated. And it was exhausting.

Give yourself plenty of time and make sure you have a lot of water - I'd say to bring at least three liters from the camp. Also bring bug spray. Mosquitoes are out in full force in this wilderness. But if you're up for a challenging hike, this has to be one of the best in Colorado.

hiking
9 months ago

The trail was beautiful. The trail was also mighty. Very mighty. Just because this is one of the lowest 14er's in Colorado doesn't mean it's easy. Unfortunately, we had cloud coverage once we summited so we didn't get much of a view. Really was an experience though! I recommend you bring plenty of water. My boyfriend and I brought along about 9 liters and we ended up coming home with just over 2. Also, bring food and lots of it. We found it helped to sit and snack on protein dense foods before going up each ascent. Be warned that because you're sweaty, you'll get pretty chilly when stopping. On the last bit of the trail be prepared to really scramble (after the ridge). The trail gets pretty sparse, but keep up and you'll reach the summit. Most importantly, be safe and keep an eye on conditions. Stick to the trail!! Above all else, enjoy!!

hiking
9 months ago

I'm a moderately experienced hiker. I've done several longer Day hikes and was ready to attempt my first 14er. The trail was challenging and strenuous. Once you pass the tree line you are climbing rocks. The trail is well marked and the stone steps are helpful but it was difficult. I made it to 13K feet and knew that was the end for me. While I was there it started to hail. My husband continued in to summit and described the Rick scramble as another intense physical challenge (he's in excellent shape). I'm grateful for this experience and the views were spectacular but it was the most difficult physical challenge I've ever taken on. It was a day I won't forget.

hiking
10 months ago

This hike is a grueling journey. Yeah it's beautiful from the top of half moon pass looking at Mt.OTHC but this is not an easy day hike by Any means.

The bouldering and scramble required at the top is pretty challenging.

Hiking this all in one day is about as hard if not
Harder than Long's Peak.

Bring bug repellent! Especially near half moon creek.

I used a water filter on the way back from the summit at the creek. I tried to conserve water the whole way and still ended up using 4.25 liters.

hiking
10 months ago

Hiked this again Saturday and forgot how awesome and difficult this trail is. It's a must do for the adventurous at heart. The forest service has done a great job building rock stairs through the boulder field. It feels like some scene out of Lord of The Rings. Bring lots of water!!! I brought 3 liters and ran out before I got back. Next time I will bring 4 or 5 liters.

hiking
10 months ago

Awesome hike. 5:30 hrs round trip for me but I was cruising. Started getting a little stormy by 1100am

hiking
10 months ago

Brutal hike, but very satisfying once completed. It's pretty difficult for one's first 14er. Definitely not for the faint of heart. The drive there will be longer than expected because of Tigwon road. Usually takes 25-30 minutes to travel the 8 mile road. Make sure to bring a hat and light jacket. I would recommend sunglasses as well. However long it takes you to get to the top of the mountain it will take about as long to get down. Took me exactly 4 hours to get to the top and 4 hours to reach the trailhead because traveling back down the boulder field is time consuming (I'm 18 and in good shape). BRING PLENTY OF WATER! 2 liters is not enough. I brought 2 and ended up drinking an extra liter or two out of the creek.

hiking
10 months ago

Absolutely fantastic trail and route leaving you with wonderful views of holy cross and the surrounding area. Currently a few patches of snow in the upper trees along with several avoidable patches around 12,000 ft. Be mindful that you still have to climb 1,000 feet on the way out so drink plenty of water and come prepared for Colorado weather.

11 months ago

Save some gas (and water) for the hike out!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Did this in September, backpacked in and started at 3am, best star gazing ever, super great fall color and one of my fav 14ers!

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Big hike, great scenery!

hiking
Wednesday, August 17, 2016

It's a bummer to lose 1000 ft and have to regain, but this was a great hike to get in shape for Rainier.

hiking
Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Awesome, lots of hiking till you get to the cabin, then if you do the whole circle trail there is a lot of climbing involved, on a 13er to get to the 1000ft mountain part then desend down. Great view of the lake below.

backpacking
Thursday, June 23, 2016

The hike is a crusher but also amazing. We backpacked in the first day and camped near the creek. The moon came up and we made huge shadows over the valley. That was a trip. :) Next day we climbed the peak. Not for the faint of heart. Hiking out is brutal because of the climb out of the creek. Go to Pazzos Pizza in Vail and drink beer and eat pizza afterwards. When I did it as a day hike it is long and tiring. Leave early to avoid afternoon lighting when above tree line. Stay very high right when descending the ridge from the top. Easy to drop to low to the left because of the double fall line and miss the trail. Some people have gotten lost and die when they get lost in this area.

hiking
Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Relatively tough with the the initial climb to timberline being negated by going all the way back down to 10,500 at the creek. Beautiful overall, took us about 10 hours.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Difficult considering we has never packed in to camp before. Most gorgeous 14er I have done (lakes and views). Bring tons of bug spray and be prepared to summit twice.

hiking
Friday, June 19, 2015

It is a beautiful trail! Can't wait to do it again!
Bug spray is absolutely needed!

camping
Saturday, March 07, 2015

Hiked over one pass and went down into the valley. I set up camp and keep on hiking to the top of Mount of Holy Cross. Where a storm was coming in. So being the only person on top I head back to camp. The next day I hiked out. It was will worth the trip.Lots of scenery.

hiking
Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bug Juice. A must.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Good hike but try to go on weekend trail can get crowded.

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