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Monte Cristo Ghost Town

Hike to an old mining town by ambling up a long-closed road along the South Fork Sauk River and largely sticking to the old route taken by miners over a century ago.

In the 1890s a mining boom brought thousands of men to Monte Cristo, an isolated area nestled in the mountains along the eastern edge of today's Snohomish County. To deliver the lead-silver ore to Everett, a railway was built along the South Fork of the Sauk River. Homesteaders filled the valley and the miners created two tiers of housing at the steep Monte Cristo site, as well as mills to process the ore. By 1893 there were more than 200 mining claims. However, the dreams of riches came to a crashing halt as funding woes, flooding along the rail line and miscalculations about the mining potential caused the production to stall and then cease by 1907. There were a few attempts to make this a resort destination, but they too were abandoned.

Monte Cristo is a ghost town today. A few relics remain, but not much. When visiting, do respect the remaining structures and property. Take photos and imagine the scene here more than a hundred years ago - teaming with men and with tramways bringing ore down from the steep hillsides. Do note that this site may be closed at a future date for clean-up of hazardous materials still remaining from the mining days.

Start at the Barlow Pass trailhead and hike along the closed road for about 4 miles. The way is fairly level, with a few steep spots. Floods in 2003 and 2006 have also taken chunks out of the road, which provides ample evidence as to why this road was never re-opened.
Driving Directions:

From Granite Falls follow the Mountain Loop Highway east for 31 miles to Barlow Pass and park there (elev. 2360 ft).

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Recent Trip Reports

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There are 88 trip reports for this hike. See all trip reports for this hike.
Monte Cristo Wagon Road, Monte Cristo ghost town — Oct 27, 2013 — Kim Brown
Day hike
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Construction on the road for heavy equipment to enter Monte Cristo for the arsenic cleanup is done f...
Construction on the road for heavy equipment to enter Monte Cristo for the arsenic cleanup is done for the season. The new road is gated, and parking is minimal, but consider this as an alternate route to the town site while it is still open to visitors (once the actual cleanup begins, the area will be closed to unauthorized visitors).

In my opinion this road is not bikeable - the cobble used to top the roadbed is fist-sized with razor-sharp angles; some of the hills are extremely steep - we estimated about a 25% grade. 2 of the bridges are unfinished - if one happened to bike over the cobble, they'd have to carry the bikes over these bridges.

For a road-walk, it's not bad. Old growth forest of hemlock and silver fir; and second growth. In a few places, we exited the new road and found traces of the old wagon road, including a small bit of puncheon.

Unfortunately, portions of the old wagon road were destroyed in the construction of the new road. However, they did make efforts to preserve the old road here and there.

It is a pleasant walk; the new road "T's" into the well-familiar road walk. When you reach that intersection, turn left and continue your trek into the old town site. GPS showed it to be a longer route by about a mile (one way), but it goes fast - and there's no potentially dangerous log-crossing.

Note this is a temporary route. Once construction begins next year, the road will again be closed to pedestrian traffic. There are several features of this road that I hope will be corrected; temporary road or not.
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Monte Cristo ghost town — Sep 21, 2013 — Jerrie
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
Issues: Mudholes | Bugs
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Lovely hike, however I lost my camera on the trail. The case is a purple plaid case with a white Ni...
Lovely hike, however I lost my camera on the trail. The case is a purple plaid case with a white Nikon digital camera in it. There is several pictures of a blonde lady and also pictures of my hikes that I went on during the summer. One to stehekin. If any one knows of the whereabouts of the camera I would love to have it back. (360)854-9406 contact Jerrie. Thank you.
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Monte Cristo ghost town — Sep 19, 2013 — Muledeer
Day hike
Features: Fall foliage
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With a personal connection to this towns history, this hike was a top priority for my friend Susan. ...
With a personal connection to this towns history, this hike was a top priority for my friend Susan. As she tells it, her Dad earned his first brand new car at 16 by picking up the 'sporting women' in Seattle on Friday, driving them up to the mining town, then picking them up again on Sunday. He also figured out that if he hauled a little moonshine under the hood he could make even more cash. When he would tell her this story, her mother would be mortified and tell him to quit. As we nosed around the townsite, we imagined the bustling streets, trains filled with ore, dirty miners and wild Friday nights. The forest has reclaimed Dumas street, with just the rusting remnants there to tell the story. The interpretive markers have been removed for the mine cleanup. Look for the pink flagging tape with writing on it marking where some of the buildings once stood. There is blue fencing and warnings posted along some of the area. They are working on a road in from the Barlow Pass area and have punched it thru to the trail(closed road), so you may encounter heavy equipment. The trail itself has no problems, the log across the river is wide and easy to cross on. I believe this area will soon be closed to hikers for the cleanup, so if you haven't done this hike, now's the time. Also, we found a hunting knife between the townsite and the Glacier Basin TH, if someone is missing one.
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Monte Cristo ghost town — Sep 01, 2013 — kayemarrh
Day hike
Features: Wildflowers blooming | Ripe berries
Issues: Bridge out | Washouts
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Easy hike if you're ready for the distance--the path is mostly gravel with nearly no elevation rise ...
Easy hike if you're ready for the distance--the path is mostly gravel with nearly no elevation rise to speak of.

The trail is hard to follow--it splits with another couple trails and it's not very clear where Monte Cristo splits, save for an intrepid other hiker writing it on a piece of paper and taping it to the sign provided. You'll cross the river on a big fallen tree--or in your waterproof shoes, but be careful attempting it barefoot, the rocks are pretty slippery.

Monte Cristo is a great gem buried in the mountains, plan to spend about an hour exploring once you reach it.
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Monte Cristo ghost town — Aug 31, 2013 — Autumnice
Day hike
Issues: Bridge out | Bugs
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Busy labor day weekend, the trail had parking lot was full by 10am. An old mining road leads hike...
Busy labor day weekend, the trail had parking lot was full by 10am.

An old mining road leads hikers, bikers, backpackers and strollers to a washed out bridge which used to cross a happy river bubbling over rocks. A few feet further up, the trail forks at a privy and trail sign; the sign says Walden Creek --> Do not take the right fork. Look behind the sign for the trail to More Cristo.

A large log acts as a bridge over the river, carefully step over the root system, there are notches cut into the far side to provide steps down to the log. During wet weather, I can imagine this log would be slippery.

The next three miles are a wonderful combination of deep shadows with moss,pine needles, and mushrooms and open sunny areas with delightful views of the glacier covered peaks.

Cross the bridge into Monte Cristo and stop for the photo opportunity at the old rusted signs. Inside the town, relax at one of the log benches or picnic tables, enjoy your lunch then explore town. Rusty pieces of history litter the ground and provide opportunities to yep. Check out the still functioning rail road turn table.

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monte cristo juliestge.jpg
Photo by juliestge.
Location
(#)
North Cascades -- Mountain Loop Highway
Mount Baker - Snoqualmie National Forest, Darrington Ranger District
Statistics
Roundtrip 8.0 miles
Elevation Gain 700 ft
Highest Point 2800 ft
Features
Rivers
Wildflowers/Meadows
User info
Good for kids
Northwest Forest Pass required
Guidebooks & Maps
Green Trails Sloan Peak No. 111
Monte Cristo No. 143

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Red MarkerMonte Cristo Ghost Town
48.0269777 -121.4446967
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