Features: River/Creek — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
Family Friendly: Ease of access, mellow grades, plenty of scenery and critters to look for.
Dogs: No Dogs
The lovely Shrine Ridge Trail
is so named for its wonderful views of Mount of the Holy Cross. The trail was first made by Ute Indians and afterwards used by settlers and silver miners.
From the Shrine Pass parking area, first take the doubletrack driveway west for 100 feet before turning left (south) onto the Shrine Ridge Pass Trail. The gentle descent is often very muddy with water running down the trail. However, the views are already amazing and will only get better. After passing through lush grassy meadows and hopping over a few streams, the trail turns west and enters a pine forest ascending at a steady grade.
Emerge from the forest with the ridge looming above you. Skirt the rocky hillside and climb a short steep ravine to the saddle. If you can tear your eyes away from the views you'll see the Wingle Ridge
trail leaving to the south. Ignore this and turn north to stay on the Shrine Ridge Trail
as it surmounts some rocky ledges. Stay right at the fork (junction with Shrine Spur
) to reach the summit of Shrine Mountain. From here you'll truly appreciate the massive Gore Range to the north, Copper ski area/Ptarmigan Pass/Tenmile Range to the south, Holy Cross/Sawatch Range to the southeast, and the Flat Top Mountains far to the west. Continue downhill along the ridge to ogle from all angles the unique red sandstone formation which has a few technical rock climbs on it. Retrace your steps once the trail peters out at a final rock outcropping.
This high elevation trail suffers from early season mud and snow drifts that can last into July depending on the severity of the previous winter. The trail is badly braided. Don't make the problem worse- it is better trail etiquette to hike through the muddy center than to stray off trail and thereby widen it.
This trail is open to hiking and equestrian use in summer. No mountain bikes. Wear blaze orange in the fall to be visible to hunters. This area sees heavy use in the winter from backcountry skiers, snowshoers, and snowmobilers. Winter travel info
Deer, elk, marmot, chipmunks.