Holy Cross City

4.9/5 (19 reviews)
Minturn, Colorado (Eagle County)
Last Updated: 08/05/2022
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Trail Information


Located in the Sawatch Range, on the side of 14,009 foot Mount of the Holy Cross, Holy Cross City is one of the state's most difficult and famous hardcore rock-crawling trails. Stock vehicles should not attempt this trail. Best known for its two biggest obstacles, French Creek and Cleveland Rock, this trail also provides amazing scenery and fantastic historical highlights. Required equipment for this trail includes a winch, 33'' or larger tires, locking differentials, and various recovery and repair equipment. This trail is always crowded on the weekends, so expect a full day on the trail as you wait your turn to conquer the major obstacles.

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

If you are looking for trailer parking to start your day, please read the "Directions to Trailhead" section above. The trail starts by quickly climbing the mountainside with a handful of small boulder obstacles that you will need to traverse. The first 1.3 miles are one-way uphill only, so you should not run into any other traffic on this section. You come to an intersection on your left, which is the exit for the trail. You will return to this point at the end of your trip. This intersection is also the entry point for groups coming up to recover damaged or disabled vehicles. Continue past this intersection where the trail gets increasingly harder with forest service signs announcing the same statement. There are a number of small, slightly off-camber rock ledge obstacles within the trees that you will make your way over, starting with the Knotch just past the exit. Eventually, you make your way to a wide clearing with a much larger ledge obstacle called the Steep Rock. Steep Rock is the first major obstacle on the trail and has a number of different lines, all of which are challenging. Once above this rock, French Creek is the next obstacle you encounter. French Creek is a major bottleneck if there is traffic on the trail. This obstacle changes every year, and the easy line from a prior year may look nothing like before. Do not park your vehicle in the creek if waiting in line for your turn to complete the obstacle. Without lockers or a winch, this obstacle will be impossible. Please remember to stay on the trail and always use tree-saver straps if winching to nearby trees. Past French Creek, the next obstacle you will come to was once known as the Tippy Tree. The tree is long gone, and the trail has widened quite a bit here, but the climb is still challenging. Eventually, you come to the surviving mining cabins of Holy Cross City. There is a lot of parking here, so stop for a while and explore the rich mining history you are seeing before you. Be sure to leave things as you found them. Many groups will turn around here and head back down the trail as the next obstacle is extreme. Shortly after the city, you will traverse 2-3 small obstacles that pale in comparison to the massive rock obstacle known as Cleveland Rock. This obstacle will find the weakest link on your vehicle and expose it immediately. Large ledges and holes on the right side will swallow up tires under 40 inches. The steep slab to the left seems to ignore the laws of friction, providing zero traction for hard compound rubber tires. To top things off, mother nature throws salt on the wound by deliberately planting a mud hole at the base of the obstacle. If you are lucky enough to conquer Cleveland Rock, you can continue a short distance over three more small obstacles until the trail ends at a fence marking the end of the motorized route. Several lakes are just a short hike away, providing great fishing opportunities. You must return down the way you came up, taking the exit route noted earlier. From here, take the easy Homestake Collection Systems Road and follow it back to the main dirt road you came in on, and back to the highway. Holy Cross Ranger District MVUM

Trail Reviews

4.9/5 (19 reviews)
Status: Open
Rated 5/5
Visited: 09/17/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Great trail, but very challenging. There are 4 main obstacles before getting to the city. I was able to do this trail with a 2-door Jk Rubicon with 2.5" lift and 35" tires. With the help of spotters I did not have to winch, but did see others having to winch over the challenges. Going back down seemed to be more challenging and was when I received the damage to my bumpers and skid plates. We went on a Saturday and it took 5hr just to get to the city due to the amount of people on the trail queuing for the obstacles.
Status: Open
Visited: 07/31/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

The trail is open, but the small parking lot to the left of the trailhead (where you’d normally air down) is closed 🤷‍♂️. Our group come upon a SxS that rolled over while descending the Notch. Be careful out there.
Status: Temporary Closure
Visited: 06/12/2022

As Ryan said, definitely still closed as of Sunday the 12th.
Trail Review: Holy Cross City - Dan Stewart
Ryan Boudreau
Official Crew
Status: Temporary Closure
Visited: 06/06/2022

Holy Cross will be closed June 6th - 17th due to road construction on roads 704 and 727.
Status: Open
Visited: 10/03/2021

We ran this trail on Sunday 10/10/21. There was very little snow at the entrance but as we got up to Holy Cross City, the snow was several inches deep. The Knotch was wet with light snow melt and ice, we ended up having to winch up it. We made it the rest of the way without winching but turned around just below Cleveland rock. I would think this trail will be completely snowed in very soon, maybe even already, and inaccessible again until next summer.
Trail Review: Holy Cross City - Seth Siders
Trail Review: Holy Cross City - Seth Siders

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