One of Western Colorado’s Most Overlooked Hikes – Holy Cross
One of Grand Junction’s best hikes also happens to be one of the most overlooked. If you’re in the market for a good three to four-hour hike complete with a special attraction, make Holy Cross your next adventure.
Holy Cross comes in as one of the longer courses on the Lunch Loop system of trails. Estimates vary, but the Holy Cross portion comes in at a minimum of five miles. Depending on where you set out from, you could be looking at a good seven to eight-mile hike or bike ride.
Unlike some of the other trails on the network, this one offers some challenging areas. The trail winds through a long series of boulders, some as big as a two-car garage. As a result, the path can get steep and narrow. According to gjhikes.com, “The Holy Cross trail is a masterpiece of design and construction that was created to provide a challenging ride for advanced mountain bikers.”
Unfortunately, the namesake for this trail tends to be overlooked. As you wind through the boulders, please keep your eyes open. Nestled between the boulders is a giant cross, roughly 12 feet tall. Many joggers and bicyclists are unaware of the cross. Their eyes are fixed on the trail, and as a result, the cross goes unnoticed.
Holy Cross can be accessed several different ways. You can start at the trail head on Monument Road, or you can access it from above by starting on Little Park Road. For that matter, it can be accessed from almost any trail converging at the base of Widowmaker.
How do you find the cross? Well, that’s the hard part. It depends on which direction you’re traveling on the trail. In the event you are on the floor of the canyon heading up towards Widowmaker, you’ll encounter a number of narrow passages and short climbs between boulders. Shortly after you begin your ascent, and just as the trail switches from an easterly direction and begins heading southwest, you’ll see the cross on your right.
If you’re heading down from Tabeguache and Widowmaker, the cross will be on your left. Before reaching the floor of the canyon, you’ll begin to encounter the large boulders and steep drops. This portion is fairly brief. Unfortunately, this is one of the most difficult portions of the trail, and consequently, a difficult time to take your eyes off the trail.
During my last hike on Holy Cross, I crossed paths with other people only two or three times over a four hour period. In each case, the people encountered were either joggers or bicyclists. I was the only dog walker on the trail. In the event you walk your dog on this trail, please PACK WATER. You’re looking at a minimum three-hour investment, and temperatures can get hot, even in cooler seasons.
Holy Cross is a magnificent trail, possibly the best in the entire system, if not all of Grand Junction. Obviously, that is a matter of opinion, but most people agree the trail is an engineering masterpiece. Add to this the incredible cross, and you have a “must see” experience for anyone looking for a good walk or bike ride.