- Oct 26, 2017
Notch Mountain gets its name from the notch in its center, but is most famous for the impressive views of Mount of the Holy Cross. Because of the views Notch Mountain Shelter was built to accommodate the hundreds of people viewing the Holy Cross.
The Trailhead shares a parking lot with the Mount of the Holy Cross Trailhead. I spent the night in the Half Moon Campground that sits below the parking lot. The hike starts on Fall Creek Trailhead (#2001).
With thunderstorms and rain in the forecast I hit the trail before sunrise.
As the sun started to rise the forest came alive and I got my first good view of the trail.
Colorado has seen many forest fires this year and the air was filled with smoke. Hiking in smoke is never fun, but I do love the red glow the sun puts off as it rises or sets.
After hiking about 2.5 mile through the forest with amazing views of mountains in the distance, wildflowers, and a small stream crossing a fork in the trail appears; turn right (#2000) and the trail begins ascending quickly toward tree line.
Switchbacks guide you through a meadow as you gain elevation.
The trail remains well marked all the way to the shelter, but just above tree line the trail becomes rocky and switchbacks and more switchbacks. I stopped counting the switchbacks while gaining elevation.
Finally after the last switchback and up a short hill the shelter and Mount of the Holy Cross come into view.
The views are so impressive that the site was a frequent stop for hikers making pilgrimages to see the cross formation, so a shelter was built for those staying overnight. The shelter has a large window facing the cross; got this nice reflection in the glass. No camping is allow in the shelter anymore.
August of 1873, a survey party led by Dr. Hayden, which including a photographer William Jackson surveyed the area. Jackson took his famous picture of Holy Cross. In the decades that followed, the area became a popular destination for religious pilgrimages. This plaque was placed in memory of him.
Taking a few more pictures of the cross I could see the storm clouds building; time to get off the mountain. Heading back down into the forest I had more time to check out all the wildflowers.
Just before returning to my campsite I was spotted by this pretty lady. This just completed an awesome day of hiking and photography for me.