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Mountain Biking: Colorado > White River National Forest > Sopris Ranger District

Quick Facts

Holy Cross Wilderness-Sopris Ranger District Wilderness Area

Satellite and Topo Map

General Description



The Holy Cross Wilderness encompasses 123,410 acres in the Sawatch Range of the Rocky Mountains of Central Colorado. This wilderness, located on the White River and Pike/San Isabel National Forests, derives its name from its key landmark, Mount of the Holy Cross. High on the the northeast face of this peak lies a deep crevice, which retains snow longer than other crevices and appears as a "Latin" cross from a distance. The area was first made famous by photographer William Henry Jackson in 1873.

Elevations within the wilderness range from 8,000 to over 14,000 feet. These elevations support lodgepole pine, Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, aspen, and spruce/fir vegetation communities, as well as alpine tundra above 11,500 feet. One-third of the wilderness is above tree line, with the Continental Divide forming its southern boundary. The area contains a myriad of creeks and lakes. There are many constructed trails available for travel through this rugged terrain, which offers moderate to difficult hikes.


As humans, we must minimize our impacts to help preserve this resource for present and future generations.

GROUP SIZE: Holy Cross Wilderness use regulations allow no more than 25 people and/or stock.

DOGS: Please remember, dogs must be on a leash at all times! Dogs may harass, stress, injure, or kill wildlife, annoy fellow hikers, and introduce disease. In protecting the natural ecosystem, the USFS enforces the leash regulation.

HUMAN WASTE: Deposit human waste in cat holes dug 6 to 8 inches deep at least 200 feet from water, camp or trails. Pack out toilet paper.

TRAILHEADS: The following trailheads access the wilderness:

Access from Frying Pan River Road (104): Proceed on HWY. 82 to Basalt, then travel east on the Fryingpan River Road for 27 miles. Approximately 3 miles past the town of Meredith, turn left on FDR 501.

Last Chance: Travel on FDR 501 for 4 miles. Take the left fork onto FDR 506 (Burnt Mountain Road). At the first stream crossing (5 miles) the trailhead is on the right.

Tellurium Lake: Continue past Last Chance Trailhead. As the road makes a sharp right on the second ridge, you will see a closed road with a cable across it. This is the beginning of the trail. Parking is about 1/8 mile down the road.

Eagle Lake: Continue past Tellurium Lake trailhead on FDR 506. Once in Lime Park turn left on FDR 507. Travel for 3 miles.

Lyle and Mormon Lakes: Travel on the Fryingpan River Road until the pavement ends, bear left and go 9 more miles until you come to a sign pointing to Hagerman Pass, bear left onto FDR 105 for 100 feet. Park at bulletin board.

Savage and Carter Lakes: Travel on FDR 501, approximately 1 mile past Elk Wallow Campground take the left fork to the trailhead 0.2 mile from the end of the road.

Josephine Lake: Travel on FDR 501 one mile past Elk Wallow campground. Take the left fork 1/2 mile to trailhead on left. It is marked as Henderson Park.

The following maps cover different portions of the Holy Cross Wilderness. They can be purchased at district offices or outdoor recreation shops

National Forest Maps:
White River and Pike/San Isabel.

USGS Quads (7 1/2 minute series):
Fulford, Grouse Mountain, Minturn, Crooked Creek Pass, Mt. Jackson, Mt. of the Holy Cross, Nast, Homestake Reservoir, Leadville North.

"The richest values of wilderness lie not in the days of Daniel Boone, nor even in the present, but rather in the future." Aldo Leopold

Directions from Carbondale: Follow HWY 82 southeast to Basalt. Travel east on the Frying Pan River Road beyond Reudi Reservoir, Meredith and Thomasville. The trails mentioned here are all accessed from various roads beyond this point.

Directions from Carbondale: Follow HWY. 82 southeast to Basalt. Travel east on the Frying Pan River Road beyond Reudi Reservoir, Meredith and Thomasville. The trails mentioned here are all accessed from various roads beyond this point.

Seasonal Information:
Normally Accessible: Summer through Fall (NOTE: Seasons vary depending on snow depth and weather. Many trails travel through high elevations and are not clear of snow until Mid-Summer. WEATHER: Weather patterns change quickly. Warm sunny days can turn into powerful electrical storms. Be prepared for snow even in August!) .

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Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Backpacking
ICON Forest Areas Holy Cross Wilderness-Sopris Ranger District Wilderness Area
ICON Hiking & Walking
ICON Horseback Riding
ICON Mountain Climbing

Related Activities
Eagle-Thomasville Road (ET Road) - This scenic dirt road travels from the town of Eagle, over Crooked Creek Pass, down to Thomasville, near Ruedi Reservoir.

More Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Email the Local Ranger

Visitor Information:

Sopris Ranger District, 620 Main St, P.O. Box 309 , Carbondale, CO, 81623, Phone: 970-963-2266, Fax: 970-963-1012


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