Looking for Melmont

It’s been one of those summers… The middle of August is fast approaching and yet it seems like the nicest days we’ve had this year were in April.

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Complaining about the weather is terrible when the rest of the country is suffering from “heat domes”, I know, but that’s what we do here in the Pacific Northwest. We complain about the weather. Especially when it’s August and I’m wearing a sweater and will be putting on tights before I leave the house today. Because, brrr…

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But damn the weather! Jae had a day off on Monday, so we layered up, grabbed our teenage boys, and headed out on a hike.

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We’re still on the ghost town kick. This time we decided to explore Melmont.

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Not Melmont, but another town a few miles down the road: Wilkeson.

Melmont was once a coal company town, established in 1900. As long as there was a demand for coal, the town thrived. But then the demand diminished and so did the town. By 1918 it was already becoming a ghost town and in 1920 a fire destroyed most of the buildings that remained. Today a few stone ruins can be found here.

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We followed the directions as given on Alltrails, so we parked by the Fairfax bridge, on SR165. If you’re coming from Carbonado, cross the bridge and park on the left side of the road. Then cross the bridge and look for the trail going down.

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It’s a steep and tricky climb underneath the bridge. Not something I’d recommend for little kids.

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The Washington Trail Association website also describes a second way to get to the trail. This one would be a little harder to find, but apparently not as hard to access. It does require you to find white poles next to a highway though… We didn’t go this way.

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The length of the hike on the WTA site is listed as 6 miles, roundtrip. On the Alltrails site the length is 4.3. Our hike ended up being 8.6 miles. 🙂

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Well, we tried our best to follow directions and find the abandoned buildings, but the whole venture proved to be a little tricky. As soon as we got under the bridge, we decided to take a left (good move. Going to the right would most likely lead us to the other beginning/end of the trail). And very soon we came across the first structure.

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Now, I took a bunch of pictures here, but unfortunately they all came out blurry! Thanks a lot, ghosts of Melmont! There is a great big wall here that looks like an old castle wall. I’m assuming there were no castles in the old company coal town at the turn of the 20th Century, so I’m just going to believe the internet and say that this used to be a coal bunker.

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We then followed a trail down a very steep hill. This proved to be a mistake, because it ended up a trail to nowhere and we got very dirty trying to get down.

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We turned around as soon as we realized that the trail wasn’t really leading to anything.

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We went back the hill and got back on the main, wide trail again. Soon we came across a second structure and this one photographed better.

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This was also the last structure that we were able to find. We remained on the main trail and expected to come across the main town site, but never really found it.

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I did some reading online about the townsite and the trail reports for this hike and I concluded that the actual town was right here, in this clearing, which is now a meadow. We walked across it and found a path leading to the river from here.

After getting back home I found out that there’s another path here somewhere, which leads to more foundations and artifacts. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any of it during this visit.

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After climbing back up from the river, we got back on the main trail and kept on walking.

It was a beautiful walk, through lush green forest and occasional glimpses of the Carbon river.

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William, Darien, Jae, me and Zika (not posing)

We made another stop by the river and took a group shot on a timer.

Not a whole lot of wildlife on this hike. Snails, slugs and this alien egg looking thing.

Signs of fall and views of the river.

At 2:30 pm we decided to turn around (had an appointment to keep) and we got back to the bridge a little after 4 pm.

On the way back we stopped in Wilkeson to see the Coke Ovens. Coke (otherwise known as fuel derived from coal) was fired up in these beehive-like ovens at the turn of the 20th century. These ovens first went into operation in 1885, but ceased their operation by the late 1920’s/early 1930’s. Now they look like something that the local teens would find incredibly fun on the weekends.

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8.6 hiking miles, 879 ft of elevation.

YTD Hiking Miles: 75.9

 

2 thoughts on “Looking for Melmont

  1. It is actually only 1 mile to Melmont, 2 miles round trip – further to Fairfax, or if you hike the railroad bed from Carbonado 🙂 The red berries are red huckleberries, very edible. Thanks for the great description. More information located here: http://ghosttownsandmines.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=72:melmont-washington&catid=43:washington-state-ghost-towns&Itemid=55

    Please give my Grandson a hug for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That makes sense! I was confused by the lengths given on the Alltrails (4.3) and WTA (6 miles) websites. And thank you for the link! I’d love to check out more ghost town hikes near us.

      Like

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