Bear Lake Trail


Bear Lake is located north of Turquoise Lake, 1/2 mile within the Holy Cross Wilderness. The Trailhead is off of Forest Service Road 107, north of County Road 9. High clearance vehicles are needed to get to the Trailhead. You can also access Bear Lake from the western-most end of County Road 9 for a two mile, one-way hike through the Holy Cross Wilderness.

Bear Lake is one of Leadville Ranger District's Suggested Day Hikes.

At a Glance

Permit Info: Permits are required for overnight stays.
Usage: Medium-Heavy
Restrictions: Wilderness regulations apply
  • Camping and fires are prohibited within 100 feet of water and trails;
  • Groups are limited to 15 people per group with a maximum combination of 25, including pack and saddle animals;
  • Dogs are required to be on a leash;
  • Bicycles are prohibited;
  • Organized groups are required to obtain approval from the  Forest Service Office in advance; and
  • Shortcutting switchbacks are prohibited.
  • Thousands of people enjoy climbing Colorado’s peaks. To protect natural resources and preserve the experience for others, please visit to become familiar with Leave No Trace techniques.
Closest Towns: Leadville, CO
Water: None
Restroom: None
Information Center: Leadville Ranger District

General Information

General Notes:

The wilderness takes its name from 14,003-foot Mount of the Holy Cross. The famous photographer William H. Jackson embellished the peak's reputation by doctoring his 19th-century photographs of the perpendicular snow-filled gullies, or couloirs, on the mountain's east face. Jackson's additional white touches enhanced the already strong resemblance of these couloirs to a cross.

Holy Cross represents the archetypical Colorado wilderness area - soaring ridges and peaks built of 1.7 billion-year-old schist and gneiss tower over immense, U-shaped glacial-carved valleys whose headwaters contain placid emerald lakes. The streams run full of fish, and the area's remote valleys offer refuge for deer, elk and a multitude of other solitude-loving creatures, such as black bear, bobcat and lynx. In fall, hikers sniff crisp air foretelling of winter and shuffle through leaves fallen from the ubiquitous aspen groves, blazing golden amidst dark forests of spruce and fir.

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