Trail Map - click on map to view at full size
Rating - 8-10
The Holy Cross trail is only 4 miles in length but you will want to plan on spending almost all day to travel the trail due to the difficulty of the obstacles, and popularity of the trail. Holy Cross is non stop obstacles with most having a reasonable bypass. The signature obstacle for the trail is French Creek but this obstacle does not have a bypass. Depending upon the amount of snow melt runoff French Creek can be either traversed by a moderately modified vehicle or the difficulty can be to the point its extremely dangerous even in a significantly modified vehicle.
From Colorado Springs travel west on highway US 24 for about 76 miles to US 24/285. Turn left on US 24/285 travel for about 13.5 miles to US 24 and turn then north towards Buena Vista. Travel through Buena Vista for another 36 miles to the town of Leadville. Continue on US 24 for about 20 miles past the town of Leadville to FS 703 or Homestake Rd and turn left or south. Travel on FS703 for about 7.5 miles and turn right just past Gold Park campground on FS 759.
Holy Cross is a trail that combines some of the best of Colorado - stunningly beautiful scenery, a historic mining town and an incredibly difficult 4WD trail. In the 1880s Holy Cross had a population of approximatley 300 souls that braved cold and deep snow falls to eke out a living for only a couple of years. Holy Cross is named after a local rock formation that has a snow field in the shape of a cross.
This is a very difficult trail and one of the obstacles should only be attempted by a significantly modified vehicle. The trail is one obstacle after another with the signature obstacle being French Creek. French Creek is an obstacle that has sofa sized boulders that changes in difficulty from year-to-year depending upon the amount of water that is flowing down the creek. The difficulty changes are from very difficult to out-right ridiculous as you are sometimes dealing with hard flowing water, wet tires and very large boulders.
Just past the town of Holy Cross is the most difficult obstacle on the trail called Cleveland Rock. Cleveland Rock is just a very large rock with several pot holes and should only be attempted by the most significantly modified of vehicles. After this obstacle there are a couple of smaller obstacles called Cleveland Rock 1 and 2. From Cleveland Rock you can hike to Cleveland Lake to enjoy some great fishing.
Shortly after starting the hike up Cleveland Trail venture to the right side of the trail as you will be treated to an incredible view of Hunky Dory Lake.
When you travel up the Holy Cross trail just remember that you will need to traverse the same obstacles on the way back home, just in the opposite direction .