“This is a lengthy romp along the creek & behind Mt. Holy Cross with early wildflowers & fall colors.”
— Megan W
Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers
No mountain bikes or motorized vehicles. Horses allowed. Dogs must either be leashed or under voice control. Access road closed Nov-June (also known as Tigiwon Rd., Notch Mountain
The Cross Creek Trail roughly follows Cross Creek, behind Mount of the Holy Cross to the headwaters about 13 miles away - this description is for the first 5 miles which are the most popular. For a full stats and information on the trail, check out the Cross Creek Trail #2006
Pretty rocky and rooty, good shade for most of the route.
After an initial descent from the trailhead, the path winds among a surprising array of enormous boulders and smooth domes. Scattered along the length of this trail there are pockets of aspen trees that turn a brilliant yellow in September. In the first mile, a couple of side trails provide access to the rushing creek for wading or fishing.
Continuously undulating, this trail has many distinct micro-areas, each with its own feel: from open valley vistas to mossy damp forest, to alpine swampland. You never stay in one zone or run on the level for long. Hop across a couple of small side streams and enter a larger meadow. Here, at about 1.25 miles from the trailhead, is a wooden sign directing runners to the bridge crossing and horses to a different ford. The robustly constructed bridge is at a pleasant spot and serves as a turn-around point for some. If you are continuing on from the bridge, run to the right (downstream) for a few steps and pick up the path again after a steep set of rock stairs. A huge rock cairn at the top shows the way. Shortly, the horse track rejoins the foot traffic path.
Continuing up-valley, you soon come across a series of large rock slabs. The trail threads across these, sometimes aided by cairns. Being one of the more open spots along the trail, this is another pretty spot for a snack or a potential turn-around. Next comes one of the larger stands of aspen, soon followed by the appearance of a "lake" at about 2.6 miles.
This low spot collects enough water to sustain pretty marshy plants and waterfowl. Run through more aspens and meadows to get impressive side-on views of Mount of the Holy Cross. After a steep ascent to navigate below some cliffs, cross a few small side streams and continue upwards. Eventually, the Cross Creek Trail intersects with the Martin Creek Trail below Grouse Mountain. This is another reasonable turn-around spot, although the Cross Creek Trail continues further into the Holy Cross Wilderness eventually ending near Blodgett Lake.
Flora & Fauna
Aspens! Signs at trailhead warn about bears in the area- be sure to use bear-resistant containers for food and other attractants.