Located in Eagle County, in central Colorado, USA, Holy Cross City Jeep Road is truly a breathtaking trail. This is one of the most difficult and popular hardcore roads in the state. It’s one of the highest mountain roads of Colorado.
Located in the northern Sawatch Range, part of the Rocky Mountains, Holy Cross City Jeep Road (Forest Road 759) is 3.8 miles (one way) long climbing up to Cleveland Lake, at an elevation of 3.618m (11,870ft) above the sea level. The road to the summit is rocky and gravel. A sign at the trailhead cautions that vehicle damage is likely.
Menacing rocky terrain with numerous steep, rocky climbs. Large, sharp rocks require tight maneuvering, increasing the likelihood of tire damage. Stock vehicles should not attempt this trail. High clearance, skid plates and differential lockers required. No stock vehicles. A complex network of poorly defined roads makes route-finding very difficult, even following a GPS tracklog. The higher parts of the trail are generally covered with snow from late November through mid-July. Very hot in summer. Carry plenty of water. Never drive this trail alone. This trail is always crowded on the weekends.
The trail follows numerous remnants of Colorado's mining heritage. At the top of the trail is the old Holy Cross City mining town with building remains and rusting mining equipment. It is an old mining trail that gold miners built and used until 1883 when the mines on Mt. Holy Cross played out. The trail also provides amazing scenery and fantastic historical highlights.
This trail shouldn’t be attempted without the appropriate training and equipment. So, understand your vehicles 4 wheel drive system and know how to use it; at all times, make sure you travel with at least one passenger and one other vehicle. Its two biggest obstacles are French Creek and Cleveland Rock. At French Creek you make a long, shallow stream crossing, then, with wet tires, you have to negotiate a section of large boulders and tire-eating holes. At Cleveland Rock the rock is giant boulder with two possible lines that are not easy either way you look at it. Take emergency supplies and extra parts; make sure you know your route. Required equipment for this trail includes a winch, 33'' or larger tires, locking differentials, and various recovery and repair equipment.
Pic: S Allen