I for one try to get out to Monte Cristo once a year, however this year may be the last until 2015 due to upcoming work at the town site. So grab your pack, your camera and your water and hit the trail.
Here are the details:
I am planning on taking our time getting up to Monte Cristo, having some lunch, doing some site seeing around the old town, and then pushing on to Glacier Basin and maybe beyond if I am feeling good, then recuperating for the hike back to the cars.
- Meet at the listed coordinates at 9:00 am on Saturday October 13.
- Bring food and water for your entire party.
- Good hiking/walking shoes/boots are strongly encouraged.
- Keep in mind, this is a long hike (8 to 12 miles round trip depending on how far you go past the town).
- Not much of an incline, this is an old railroad grade.
Please keep in mind that this is a long hike and may not be suitable for younger children.
NOTE: The reason for planned work at the townsite is to reduce heavy metals such as Mercury, Arsenic and Lead that have been leaching into the river for years. I would suggest bringing enough water for the entire hike as I cannot recommend drinking filtered water from the river.
Monte Cristo/Glacier Basin
A nice trip back in time to the mining era of the late 1800s. Glacier Basin is home to several daunting and snow capped peaks, including Monte Cristo, Cadet and Wilmans. This can also be a great overnight trip for the experienced hiker and climber with plenty of opportunities for scrambles to high peaks. Ruins from the mining era and the old town site make for an interesting history lesson in addition to the stunning hike.
Don't let the mileage scare you away from this great day hike. The Monte Cristo road follows the old grade of what used to be the Monte Cristo railroad. At 1.7 miles you will cross a large bridge as it passes over the South Fork Sauk River. Once at the town site, there are plenty of places for lunch and a quick rest stop. There is a rack to lock your bike up, and then the trail continues up the path until the first junction at a quarter-mile. Go straight and follow the signs to Glacier Basin.
The old-growth forest trail is short-lived, and you will find yourself in the Glacier Falls region, then climbing up a short but steep area called "Mystery Hill." Please be aware that the steep section has large rocks and can be difficult at times, especially on the way down. Once you pass the steep section you will enter the alpine zone amid heather and rock. The grunting and struggling up Mystery Hill is well worth views in the basin. A fragile meadow sits in the heart of the basin, so pleasebe careful and limit your impact
Directions: From the Verlot Service Center (11 miles east of Granite Falls), travel west on the Mountain Loop Highway 19.5 miles to Barlow Pass. Park on the highway or in the parking lot and proceed on foot past the gate on the Monte Cristo Road
Distance: 12.2 miles round trip (8.0 miles round trip to Monte Cristo)4.2 miles round trip from Monte Cristo to Glacier Basin
Difficulty: Difficult, dont be scared by this rating-the first 2 miles are on a fairly level dirt road. Last 2 miles are and moderate trail with only a 400' elevation gain from parking.
Elevation gain: Barlow Pass: 2,151 ft.; Monte Cristo: 1,300 ft.
Seasons it's hikeable: • Summer • Fall
Map: Green Trails Monte Cristo 143
Permit? $5 Northwest Pass required for parking, restrooms are available at the trailhead.
Phone: Contact the Verlot Service Center at 360- 691-7791
Info updated: May 2011