It was a nice day on Sunday, so Jae, Darien, Zika and I left the city of Seattle for the ghost town of Monte Cristo.
Monte Cristo ghost town is just off the Mountain Loop Highway and is one of my favorite easy, but long, local hikes. To get there drive on the Mountain Loop Highway for 31 miles from Granite Falls and park near the Barlow Point parking lot. Barlow Point will be on your left, but the Monte Cristo hike starts just across the street, on the right side of the street. It isn’t marked with any signs saying that this is the Monte Cristo trail, so just look for the closed road signs:
For the most part this is a very easy hike. Bring your kids, bring your dogs, bring your leashed ferret. Most of this trail is an old wagon road.
But then there are the washed out parts and the river that you need to cross if you want to get to the Monte Cristo townsite.
There is a map posted on a board maybe half a mile from the start of the road. Look for it on the right hand side. Study it. We didn’t do that… (I was here a couple of years ago, but that was before the landslide.)
See that Danger!! sign on the map? We decided to cross the river at that point…. This is NOT where you’re suppose to go. You’re suppose to follow the trail, go over a log and get to Bridge #2, but getting there is a little tricky. I’ve done this hike before and had a harrowing experience (a dog fell in the river; luckily my friend Lena saved it. The river is VERY rapid in this area. Don’t mess around in the current.)
No one fell in the river this time, but we did get very lost for a while.
We took the detour around the landslide (the area where it says: Active Clay Slide! on the map) and once we got to the fork in the road, we took a left. DO NOT DO THAT! Take a RIGHT.
If you take a left, you end up by the river (in the area just above where it says “new trail” on the map).
This is a very pretty spot and it looks like crossing the river here wouldn’t be too bad… Don’t be fooled. The river is much deeper and much faster than the pictures make you believe.
It took us awhile, looking for a place to cross where we wouldn’t get wet, but at some point we decided to just go in. We were thigh deep in some places, with very rapid current all around.
Once we got to the other side, I decided to leave Jae, Darien and Zika in one spot on the shore and go look for the trail on my own.
Needless to say, there was no trail to find. I bushwacked my way around and could’ve gotten hopelessly lost if it weren’t for the loud river nearby keeping me oriented.
I got trapped among there horrible prickly plants. I have no idea what they’re called, but they’re awful! The thorns scratched up my arms pretty bad.
After a while I gave up and we went back, crossing the river once again. Zika didn’t care. He had a great time playing with sticks!
We had a little lunch break and thought that maybe we should just turn around and go back, but then we remembered the road going to the right, so we decided to explore it a little bit.
Sure enough, this was the right way to go! We again came to a river and a large log, serving as a makeshift bridge.
There are several logs in the area, but the one to take is the big fat one, with a rope tied around it.
Once you get over the log, you shouldn’t have any problems finding the trail and Bridge #2.
A nice wide trail leads to the townsite from here for about 3 miles. It’s mostly flat (a couple of small hills to get through, but nothing major) and wide.
You will see a few signs and some remnants of old cabins as you approach the townsite.
And some random garbage as well. I suppose this will someday become a relic of the past. For now it’s a pair of snowshoes and an old battery pack, someone left here for some reason. It’s a mystery.
More legit, 19th century, relics can be found as well.
There are several bridges leading into town. This is one of them.
And here is another.
The town is pretty and fun to explore. To our dismay, however, on a nice sunny day like that Sunday, it was also pretty crowded with other hikers.
Try to come here on a weekday to get more of the “ghostly” effect.
Monte Cristo was once a booming silver mining town, where Donald Trump’s grandfather, Frederick, ran a brothel. True story. If you don’t believe me, read here.
There are plenty of artifacts all around the site. Feel free to look around and enjoy them. Just don’t damage anything and don’t take anything with you!
The buildings at Monte Cristo are still mostly very intact. It isn’t hard to imagine what life was like here back in the late 1800’s.
Now that we knew where to go, getting back was easy.
We saw some chipmunks (scared away by Zika) and a couple of snakes. This baby one.
And a big snake relaxing on a rock. So beautiful and graceful! I love snakes…
This is a gorgeous, 10 mile, hike. The only thing that would make it more exiting would a time portal in the town. One I could use to go back to the silver mining era of the late 19th century, find Frederick Trump, and stop him from reproducing.
10.2 miles, 623 ft of elevation.
YTD Hiking Miles: 47