The Mile-Hi Jeep Club of Colorado hosts an event each year in Colorado known as : All-4-Fun. This year was a smaller one, due to COVID restrictions of course, and despite all of the rain, it was still a great event. Being that this was my first time at this event and to Leadville, Colorado, I had my sights set on the Holy Cross trail. While this trail has a few challenging spots, the one that stands out is the French Creek crossing, because if it rains, it gets closed. Since we had so much rain, we spent time exploring some of the surrounding mountain passes hoping the rain would let up.
The views and mountains in this part of Colorado are stunning to say the least, but the heights along the shelf roads are not for people scared of falling or of heights in general, and..that would be me. But, I have gotten better at containing my fears since doing a lot of shelf roads in the San Juan Mountains surround Ouray, Colorado.
On our last day, a small group of 4 of us went ahead of the “big group” to make sure the creek was passable. From the start of the trail it was game on. I thought the rubicon trail was demanding! Holy cross grabs you from the start and doesn’t let up much. As the signs warns, “For experienced drivers only”, it is also deemed one the most popular hardcore roads in the state. Holy Cross road is 3.8 miles mostly one way and is one of the highest county roads in Colorado at 11,870 ft in elevation. A sign at the trailhead cautions that vehicle damage is likely and that is no lie!
The trail was built in 1883 and provides vistas of the Mount of the Holy Cross where you will find Holy Cross city where structures are still present still today and is a historic sight. Along this route there are many mining sites and mining equipment left from Holy Cross city mining town. The trial also provides amazing scenery and fantastic historical highlights. It was once a major mining camp, complete with two stamp mills, a number of boarding houses, a school, a post office, a hotel, two general stores, and at its peak 300 residents.
I recommend going with a group, and you will need to be a pretty dam good driver. If you don’t have to winch your rig or someone else’s at some point, I would be surprised. And of course the chance of breaking something is very real. The biggest obstacles are the big rock ledges which will get you vertical and you will need to commit to some throttle to overcome…then there will be French Creek.
The Creek is very demanding and full of water and big holes and big rocks. Cleveland rock is at the end of the trail…and most will need a buggy to concur that obstacle, especially if its wet! For that one, I wouldn’t advise attempting that without some winching and extra parts when you break something. This trail is outstanding and will demand all of your attention, which is also why it’s one of Jeep’s Badge of Honor Trails! Happy Jeeping!
It’s hard to image 300 people living at this altitude and in this terrain…but what a beautiful place it is.