Missouri Lakes/Pass, Fancy Lake/Pass, Holy Cross City Loop


Trail Stats & Info

RT length 13 miles
Elevation gain 3,230 feet
Difficulty moderate-strenuous
Lowest elevation 10,030 feet
Highest elevation 12,410 feet
Trail type loop
Trails Illustrated Map™ # 126
Restrooms @ TH? yes
Missouri Lakes & Pass, Fancy Lake & Pass, Holy Cross City Loop
Missouri Lakes & Pass, Fancy Lake & Pass, Holy Cross City Loop

Missouri Lake and Missouri Pass

Missouri Lakes & Pass, Fancy Lake & Pass, Holy Cross City Loop

Fancy Lake

Missouri Lakes & Pass, Fancy Lake & Pass, Holy Cross City Loop

Fancy Pass


From I-70, take Hwy 24 (exit 171) south towards the town of Minturn. Follow Hwy 24 for about 14 miles and turn right onto Homestake Road. Follow Homestake Road for about 7.5 miles, then turn right onto Missouri Creek Road. Follow Missouri Creek Road for about 2 miles and a small parking area and the trailhead is down from the road on the left. If you continue onto Missouri Creek Road for a short distance Fancy Lake trailhead is on the left by a small parking lot and restrooms on the right. The two trailheads are less than 100 yards apart. You can park either parking lot, but the trail starts at Missouri Lakes trailhead and ends at Fancy Lake trailhead.



Holy Cross Wilderness is definitely an amazing and breathtaking area.Missouri Lakes & Pass, Fancy Lake & Pass, Holy Cross City Loop This area features the Sawatch Range, including Mt. of the Holy Cross, a 14er, and many alpine lakes. This is a great loop hike that allows you to experience some of the best views over two passes and hike to awesome alpine lakes. We did this hike as a one-night backpacking trip. You can do it as a very long day hike, but why speed through this beautiful wilderness? The hike starts off at the Missouri Lakes trailhead, but you can start at the Fancy Lake trailhead if you want to do it counter-clockwise. We decided to go clockwise in order to follow a trail guide that I had found. Most of the trail up to Missouri Lakes is in trees, but it does veer through several meadows and over a few streams/creeks via wooden bridges. Along the trail, you can peer over a cliff to see the river down below, but be careful as it is a far drop.

At about 3 miles, you’ll reach one of the many Missouri Lakes which sits just at the base of Savage Peak. As you hike further, the last of the Missouri Lakes is the largest lake and from here you can see Missouri Pass. This is a good place to take a break and eat a snack/lunch, as the next part of the trail goes over the pass. We saw some other hikers camping at the largest lake. As you head towards Missouri Pass, you’ll splash through melted snow water, especially during the spring or early summer. We hiked in water during most of the trail up to the pass and had to hike around large snowfields just below the pass. This part of the trail is a little more steeper, but it didn’t take long to get to the top. On top of Missouri Pass, don’t forget to look back over Missouri Lakes as that basin is spectacular. Looking over to the north, more amazing views of the Holy Cross area and Treasure Vault Lake down below. The trail descends down for less than 100 ft in elevation into the Cross Creek Basin and you can see Fancy Pass to the east, which looks like a rocky notch in the middle of the saddle. The trail initially ascends gradually, then steeply up to Fancy Pass.

Missouri Lakes & Pass, Fancy Lake & Pass, Holy Cross City Loop

Inside one of the remaining cabins in Holy Cross City

From the pass, the trail steeply descends in rocky terrain. During the spring or early summer, there will still be quite a bit of snow, so hike down cautiously as one slip may have you glissading down to a rocky bottom. When we hiked this part, the trail was mostly covered in soft snow which made it a slow and tedious trek down. For this part, it would be good to have an ice axe, but we had our trekking poles instead. Just above Fancy Lake the snow was gone, which made it much easier to hike, but there was still a lot of loose rocks on the trail. As we came up to Fancy Lake, there is a trail sign indicating the trail to Holy Cross City or to Fancy Lake. We camped at Fancy Lake for the night, which there are a few campsites east of the lake.

The next morning we left our tent at Fancy Lake to make our load lighter and hiked to Holy Cross City. You need to backtrack to the trail sign to get to Holy Cross City trail. The trail is about 1.5 miles to the city. At Holy Cross City, you can see 2 remaining cabins and several remnants of other cabins. Some of the guides say you can see various mining equipment scattered across the landscape, but we didn’t see any when we were there. We took some photos of the cabins and their interiors, then headed back to Fancy Lake. From there we packed up our tent and sleeping bags and headed down the trail. The trail from Fancy Lake is pretty steep, but then gradually descends all the way to Fancy Lake trailhead. If you do this as a backpacking trip, there is always a water source and several campsites either at Missouri or Fancy Lake.

Comments or Questions?

About Jake & Mar

Jake and Maria have spent a good chunk of their time hiking and exploring all that the Colorado wilderness has to offer. Their ambition is to seek out all the hidden treasures of the Rocky Mountains from pristine alpine lakes, to tall dense Aspen forests, to high mountain summits. They both bring their own unique talents and abilities to Findhikingtrails.com, whether it's the organizational skills and consistent ambition to take on new terrain, or the desire to creatively record and document the experience. They are truly passionate about their site and the outdoors. "We thank you for visiting Findhikingtrails.com and wish you safe and fun adventures!"