Located in Eagle County, in central Colorado, USA, Holy Cross City Jeep Road is truly a breathtaking trail, only for the most experienced drivers. It’s one of the most difficult and popular hardcore roads in the state.
Set high 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. At this elevation it’s one of the highest roads of Colorado.
The rough road to the summit is unpaved and rocky. A sign at the trailhead cautions that vehicle damage is likely. The trail was built in 1883 and provides vistas of the Mount of the Holy Cross. This extreme road starts off Homestake Road #703 and ends at Holy Cross City historic site. This is one of the most difficult hardcore roads in the state. Stock vehicles should not attempt this one. The higher parts of the trail are generally covered with snow from late November through mid-July. 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. 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.
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. Winching is necessary, and you may need to build parts of the trail. 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