Climb Mount of the Holy Cross, North Ridge
Colorado › Half Moon (Tigiwon) Trailhead
Added by Austin Smith
- Famous for its "cross"-like rock features visible from miles away
- The pinnacle of the Holy Cross Wilderness and also one of Colorado's 54 14ers at 14,009 feet
- The trail will take you over mountain passes, through alpine forests, above the treeline, and across an easy rock scramble to the summit
- 12 miles roundtrip, 5600 foot elevation gain
Just a few miles South Minturn, Colorado, turn onto Tigiwon Road (dirt) and take it about 5 miles to the Half Moon trailhead at . Tigiwon Road is easily accessed by 2WD vehicles and the trailhead should be reachable in the Summer months after the snows have melted.
Start early as, at 12 miles, this is a long hike and you'll want to beat the early afternoon storms that are predictable on Colorado's 14ers. Beginning around 10,500 feet, the trail ascends a mile and a half to Half Moon Pass. From here you will have to descend into and across the valley separating the pass from the mountain itself. This will require descending and then ascending again around 1,000 feet both on the approach to the mountain and on the return to the trailhead. At the bottom of the valley is an easy creek crossing and you'll pass by a number of camping spots that are available if you wish to spend the night (these must be reserved at the ranger station).
Across the valley, the ascent up Mount of the Holy Cross begins with a number of switchbacks that will eventually emerge from the treeline around 11,700 feet. From here the trail ascends a long ridge line to the base of the final summit push. The trail in the ridge area is incredibly well maintained, with stair-like steps made of rock carrying you most of the distance with a number of large cairns guiding the way. After a half mile of easy ridge hiking, the trail becomes less discernible with a short and easy scramble up the last 500 vertical feet of the mountain. The rocks here are large and stable and make for easy hiking.
From the top of the summit you will have a commanding view of the 10 mile range to the East-Southeast, the Gore Range to the East-Northeast, the Sawatch to the South, and the Elks to the West.
- Day pack
- Plenty of water for a strenuous 12 mile, 7-10 hour hike
- Trail mix and any lunch you'll want along the way
- Hiking boots. Tennis shoes will be fine in the summer months.
- First aid kit
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Spring, Summer, Autumn
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Huge Challenge, Huge Reward
My roommate and I decided to day hike Holy Cross. I would recommend an overnight and to camp after you make your initial descent- the day hike was pretty rigorous. It took us 9 hours total, and climbing up, then down and then up again was brutal. However, best views I've ever seen when you reach the top. Totally breathtaking! Prepare yourself for the hike back to the trailhead, the descent down and then hike back uphill was a complete killer when you're already exhausted from making it to the summit. Word to the wise- bring bug spray!
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