How to backpack Colorado’s Cross Creek to Fall Creek Loop in the Holy Cross Wilderness

Ever since hiking the Missouri and Fancy Lakes loop earlier this summer (which was incredible!), I’ve been wanting to get back to the Holy Cross Wilderness to explore more. Well, last month, my friends got kicked off the Pacific Crest Trail due to wildfires and took a last-minute flight out to Colorado to visit, so I got the chance to do so! Eager to impress them (and convince them to move to Colorado), we headed out to the mountains near Vail and Leadville to hike the 28-miles Cross Creek to Fall Creek backpacking loop.

This loop may be my favorite backpacking trip that I’ve taken in Colorado yet, and that is really saying something! There are so many incredible places to hike and backpack here, and this one really stands out for its epic scenery, exposed passes, and sparkling blue-green alpine lakes. This trail is nearish to Vail and Leadville, Colorado.

Getting there

To start this loop, park at the Cross Creek Trailhead near Minturn, Colorado. Follow the Cross Creek Trail up and over Fancy pass, then keep left toward Holy Cross City. Once the trail turns into Jeep roads, keep right. Do NOT go through Holy Cross City – there is no true trail there. Instead, keep to the right once you get there. About a mile or past Holy Cross City, you will pick up the Fall Creek Trail at a gorgeous meadow overlook. Follow the Fall Creek Trail past Hunky Dory Lake, up and over Fall Creek Pass, past Lake Constantine, and to the Halfmoon Trailhead. From here, you either have a 6.5 mile drive or road walk to your car at Cross Creek Trailhead.

More info about the Missouri and Fancy Lakes Trail (11.5-mile loop in this same wilderness): https://youtu.be/CH24LCbEZuQ.

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Published by Audrey

Hi! My name is Audrey, otherwise known as Glowstick on trail. I've always been into hiking, adventuring, and the outdoors, but these things took a backseat as I worked on my career in public relations for several years in Washington, D.C. In 2018, I decided that I was discontent with city life. Instead of working on my career, I needed to work on my happiness. So, I reprioritized. I quit my (amazing) job at World Wildlife Fund, thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, and relocated to beautiful Boulder, Colorado, where I work in climate communications and climb mountains every chance that I get.

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