Mount of the Holy Cross Trail

Gilman, Colorado 81645

Mount of the Holy Cross Trail

Mount of the Holy Cross Trail Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"This second hike in the Holy Cross Wilderness is a challenging pilgrimage to the summit of Mount of the Holy Cross. It is a tough day hike on steep grades and long stretches of trailless bouldering, but it is also one of the most rewarding hikes in the entire state.

There are unforgettable views of the namesake mountain and its trademark cross, demanding scrambles up a succession of thirteener peaks and a fourteener peak, and a deep valley descent. A truly epic day is in store. Bring plenty of food and water and a good map, plan on an alpine start (at least 3 AM), and set aside about 11 hours to complete the loop."

More Mount of the Holy Cross Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

Climbing and Skiing Colorado's Mountains (Falcon Guides)
Ben Conners and Brian Miller
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"The Cross Couloir is arguably one of the most famous snow couloirs in the Lower 48. If you have ever skied the Back Bowls of Vail, you have probably looked to the southwest and stood in awe of a peak so prominent, it was granted an entire wilderness region. To be able to scout a couloir this easily from a ski resort is a blessing, as it makes spring plans to ski it that much easier. The reclusive nature and difficulty of reaching this iconic peak deters many a fair-weather ski mountaineer, but sometimes upon first glance, the pull of the Cross can overcome you and bump the line to the top of your list. Next time you find yourself driving west on I-70 as you exit the Eisenhower Tunnel, be sure to look down the valley and you just might catch a glimpse of this peak in all its glory."
Best Summit Hikes in Colorado (Wilderness Press)
James Dziezynski
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"Holy Cross, Batman! This sturdy 14er is a favorite for hikers of all denominations, thanks to some heavenly routes that utilize the mountain’s long, stable ridgelines."

Mount of the Holy Cross Trail Trip Reports

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Tough hike due to the extra elevation gain it takes to get over half moon pass. Mentally prepare yourself for the 900 ft climb after the 4000 ft descent on the way back. It snowed on us in mid-sept. be prepared
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We did the Mount of the Holy Cross summit hike as part of a backpacking trip. We stayed the night at Lake Constantine, which was beautiful. We got a late start in the morning (10am) and started heading up towards the Tuhare Lakes. This was a very beautiful hike as well, with tons of wildflowers and several small waterfalls. We were following a route that had been shown on, which showed a route going up the ridge just to the north of the lower Tuhare Lake. Unfortunately, there was no trail. We were able to make it to the top of this first ridge in about 2 hours (the route was trailless bouldering the entire time). We then hooked up with the trail that shoots off from the Notch Mountain trail. However, there wasn't much of a trail (more bouldering), and it was a very, very long hike to get to the summit still. We had to climb up and over several thirteeners and walk around the ridge, approaching Mount of the Holy Cross from the south side. We almost gave up several times. But, we kept pushing on and made it to the summit at 4pm. We took a different route down--we dropped into the upper Tuhare Lake basin and made our way around the lake, down and around the lower Tuhare Lake, and finally back down the hill towards Lake Constantine. We made it just as it was starting to get too dark to see. All in all, it was an absolutely amazing hike--we got to see almost 10 lakes in 5 valleys. However, it was probably the most difficult route to take, with the most bouldering. I would not recommend this route if you are just looking to summit the mountain as quickly as possible. It was an 11 hour hike for us and we were under-prepared, but we made it with determination.

Mount of the Holy Cross Trail Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
6,790 feet
Elevation Gain
Trail Type
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
11+ hours
Late June through October
10,315 feet
Trailhead Elevation
14,005 feet
Top Elevation
Snowmobiling, Hiking, Mountain Biking
Additional Use
White River National Forest
Local Contacts
USGS Mount of the Holy Cross
Local Maps

Trail Log