Hiking Colorado: Holy Cross Wilderness


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Soar In Colorado's Eagles Nest Wilderness

Holy Cross's abundance of water sets the state for one of Colorado's longest running and most bitter conflicts over wilderness versus water development.

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The wilderness takes its name from 14,foot Mount of the Holy Cross. The famous photographer William H.

Jackson embellished the peak's reputation by doctoring his 19th-century photographs of the perpendicular snow-filled gullies, or couloirs, on the mountain's east face. Jackson's additional white touches enhanced the already strong resemblance of these couloirs to a cross and drew countless thousands of pilgrims in subsequent years.

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This fourteener is by no means the only high peak in the northernmost extension of the Sawatch Range; more than twenty-five peaks over 13, feet in elevation dot the wilderness. Holy Cross represents the archetypical Colorado wilderness area - soaring ridges and peaks built of 1.


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The streams run full of fish, and the area's remote valleys offer refuge for deer, elk and a multitude of other solitude-loving creatures, such as black bear, bobcat and lynx. In fall, hikers sniff crisp air foretelling of winter and shuffle through leaves fallen from the ubiquitous aspen groves, blazing golden amidst dark forests of spruce and fir.

Rainbow Blvd. Shortly after the bridge, turn right west on Homestake Road. From Leadville take 24 north and turn left west on Homestake Road. Follow Homestake Road on a good dirt road for about 7. Turn right at the sign for Missouri Creek Road.

Colorado Trail to Holy Cross Wilderness

From here the road gets a bit bumpier and steep in spots. SUV is recommended but low clearance cars can make it if you are careful.

Parking is plentiful. The basin is beautiful, the hike is steep, and the lake is pristine.

Backpack The Holy Cross Wilderness (via the Missouri Creek Trailhead), Missouri Creek Trailhead

The Lake has a number of terrific camping spots and is ripe for dayhiking and backpacking. From the trailhead start climbing up through dense evergreen forest along wide switchbacks to a prominent outcropping and the wilderness boundary. As you continue up, up, and up, you'll pass through various meadows with wildflowers and get a few peaks at the nearby peaks.

You're first major destination will be an awesome view of the creek cascading down a narrow, deep gorge.

Hiking Colorado:  Holy Cross Wilderness Hiking Colorado: Holy Cross Wilderness
Hiking Colorado:  Holy Cross Wilderness Hiking Colorado: Holy Cross Wilderness
Hiking Colorado:  Holy Cross Wilderness Hiking Colorado: Holy Cross Wilderness
Hiking Colorado:  Holy Cross Wilderness Hiking Colorado: Holy Cross Wilderness
Hiking Colorado:  Holy Cross Wilderness Hiking Colorado: Holy Cross Wilderness
Hiking Colorado:  Holy Cross Wilderness Hiking Colorado: Holy Cross Wilderness
Hiking Colorado:  Holy Cross Wilderness Hiking Colorado: Holy Cross Wilderness

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