Mt. of the Holy Cross - North Ridge
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|Difficulty:|| Class 2 |
|Trailhead:||Half Moon (Tigiwon)|
|Total Gain:||5,600 feet|
|RT Length:||12.00 miles|
|USGS Quad.:||Mount of the Holy Cross|
|County Sheriff:||Eagle: 970-479-2201|
|National Forest:||White River|
|Wilderness Area:||Holy Cross|
From Interstate 70, take Exit 171 and follow U.S. 24. Drive almost 5 miles and turn right onto the Tigiwon road. The turn is just before U.S. 24 crosses the Eagle River and starts to switchback up the hillside. The Tigiwon road is dirt and cars can usually make it to the trailhead. Drive just over 8 miles to the trailhead. More information on the Tigiwon Road (#707) can be found on the US Forest Service Motorized Vehicle Use Map for the Holy Cross Ranger District.
The trail starts above the end parking area. Fill out a Wilderness Registration Card and hike up the Half Moon trail (Photo #1 and Photo #2) to reach Half Moon Pass ( 39.4942° N, -106.45334° W) (Photo #3 and Photo #4) after 1.5 miles. The north ridge of Notch Mountain (13,237') is up to your left. Cross the pass and follow the trail as it gradually descends west - Photo #5 and Photo #6. Below 11,400', Holy Cross and much of the route is visible to the southwest - Photo #7. Continue over the northwest shoulder of Notch Mountain and continue your descent toward East Cross Creek - Photo #8, Photo #9, Photo #10, Photo #11 and Photo #12. From Half Moon Pass, you will lose about 1,000' of elevation to reach the creek. After a steep descent, reach the thick forest near East Cross Creek (approx. 10,700'). If you're camping in the area, please read the information sign (Photo #13) because it has a map of defined camping spots on the north (right) side of the creek.
Cross the creek ( 39.48873° N, -106.47101° W) (Photo #14) and follow the trail as it climbs west - Photo #15. Hike through several rocky areas (Photo #16) and continue south up through the forest to reach tree line ( 39.48298° N, -106.48026° W) near 11,700' - Photo #17 and Photo #18. Taken from the northeast, Photo #19 is an overview of the remaining hike up the north ridge. Follow the trail south and southeast to reach the crest of the ridge near 12,100' - Photo #20 and Photo #21. The Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI) has built an excellent trail from here to 13,400'. Much of it weaves through talus to reach the upper ridge but it's defined and cairned - Photo #22 and Photo #23. Above 12,200', carefully follow the rocky trail and look for large cairns along the way - Photo #24, Photo #25 and Photo #26. When the terrain begins to ease near 13,100' (Photo #27), continue south along the ridge crest (Photo #28 and Photo #29) to reach a corner ( 39.46829° N, -106.4853° W) near 13,400' - Photo #30.
Turn left (southeast) to continue on a less-defined trail and not too far away from the ridge crest to your left. Near 13,700', reach another notch at the top of the Angelica Couloir - Photo #32, Photo #33 and Photo #34. The remainder of the hike is steeper and is the crux of the route. Ascend 300' of talus (Photo #35) by searching for trail segments and cairns to reach the summit ( 39.466713° N, -106.481766° W) - Photo #36, Photo #37, Photo #38 and Photo #39. On your return trip, you must re-gain nearly 1,000' of elevation to reach Half Moon Pass - Photo #40. It's rather unpleasant but the only way out.
When descending from the summit, be sure to follow the same route back down the north ridge. Some hikers have become lost by not returning to East Cross Creek on the main trail. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Holy Cross Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the Wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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